Time to update your telephone policy? Here’s how!

February 6, 2020

Did you get a brand new telephony system, make the switch to cloud-based PBX, or buy a bunch of new phones? Then you need to update your telephone policy as well! And no, hitting send:all won’t be enough. Here are our best tips.

In many companies, the subject of who actually owns the telephone policy tends to be a bit of a thorny issue. While IT decide what telephone solutions you’ll be using, does that mean they should also be responsible for communicating with the rest of the company? No, exactly. Because telephony is part of your external presence – just like the rest of your marketing – the policy should be owned by somebody in charge of company marketing overall (such as a CMO). Essentially, the purpose of a telephone policy is continuously to increase customer and employee satisfaction alike. Clarifying who is in charge of the policy will also serve to highlight its importance to the entire organisation.

What is personal, what is work related?

It’s been a few years since every employee had their own landline, a holy, stationary centrepiece of communication with customers and partners. These days, everybody has a mobile phone in their pocket, and uses it at all hours of the day in many different situations. That puts increased importance on distinguishing between what is personal, and what is work related. Many companies spend large sums on expensive phones and powerful systems with a wide range of capabilities – which means they should be put to the right use for the organisation!

Start with statistics and optimise accordingly

Modern tools and systems allow for easy retrieval of statistics on your operations – what you’re good at, and what you need to get better at. These statistics make for an excellent foundation on which to base your telephone policy. They’ll tell you exactly how many customers called you, how many hung up before you could pick up, what your response times are, and how many received the help they were looking for. Sometimes you will have had a hunch already, perhaps one or two customers who mentioned having had a hard time getting through, or you’ve noticed customer service not solving as many problems as they should. By first pulling up these numbers and seeing them in black on white, insights on how you need to create or update processes to optimise your business tend to follow.

Updating the policy - step by step

1. Ask yourselves the following questions:

● What is a relevant level of availability in your company? Callers wait a maximum of 1 minute – then they hang up. Decide how available you’re going to be, what you think is a reasonable response or return call time, and how you can make it easier for customers to reach you.

● If you have long telephone queues – what other channels can you be reached through? Perhaps you can recommend a chat, writing to you on social media, or maybe even visiting your office.● What do your customers say? The bigger the company, the worse the telephone culture, and your customers’ opinions play an important part in how you can run the business.

● What’s your present situation? If you have an existing policy that isn’t working, if you’ve grown quickly, changed systems etc. – take stock of your internal starting points for easier focus on the right things.

● What do your statistics show you – what numbers will you be working off of? If your system has collected data for a while, you’ll easily be able to tell what areas you might need to address.

● What are the departments doing differently? Some teams might perform better or worse than others. Find out why, so you can regulate it specifically in the policy.

2. Use a telephone policy template

Regardless of whether you already have an existing policy or need to create one from scratch, having a straightforward template to work off of can be a good thing, so you can be sure you’ve covered all of the necessary aspects. Even if you think you know exactly what information your employees need to know and follow, it’s easy to leave something out by accident. With a template as a starting point, you’ll cover all the bases and be able to add details specific to your company.

3. Be yourselves

Make sure the telephone policy reflects your company culture. Encourage personal greetings that play with your tone-of-voice and overall style of communication, and offer advice and suggestions so that every team member can adopt the policy in a way that suits them.

4. Implement the policy in your organisation

Just like it’s important that there is a clear policy owner, it’s crucial that the policy is implemented in the organisation in the right way. Being presented with yet another policy document to stick to can feel tiresome and annoying – but if you introduce it the right way, it’ll just become a natural part of your team members’ day at work.

For new employees: Make sure that the telephone policy becomes an early part of the introduction – and that new staff sign off on it even before they receive their phone.

● For current staff: Organise a breakfast seminar or info meeting to highlight the relevant statistics and your need for the policy. Tip! Don’t be afraid to use both a little carrot and a little stick. With the statistics in your system, you’ll be able to see exactly how team members work. Why not set a few goals for you all to celebrate once you reach them?

5. Follow up and evaluate

By creating a report before you start following the telephone policy, and one after, you’ll gain clear insights into its effect on both employees and customers. Give it three months, then evaluate – and don’t forget to toast if it’s been a success!

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