Hi, guys. Valerie V. Today we are going to talk about something that has become pretty apparent to me. And that is there are one or two people in your office who can make or break a recruiting candidate and a lead immediately.
Hey, guys. Valerie V with The Valerie V Show. And I have something burning in my brain that I need to talk to you all about. And that is the person or people who answer your phones in your office. I know that when you started your business, the first thought in your mind wasn’t, “I’m going to get phone training for all of my office staff because when they answer the phone, they’re going to sound like they really don’t care and I don’t want that to happen.” That is not what you had in mind when you started your business. And you never thought that the folks answering your phone might sound a little harsh. They might sound a little disinterested, burned out like they’ve talked to 500 people who irritated them all day.
But I will tell you that in the 11 years of doing this business, we have had or offered clients tracked and recorded for the lines for a very long time. Now having said that, we didn’t offer tracked and recorded phone lines so that people could hear how bad their office staff sounds when they answer the phone. We did that so that they could see … Mark a call as a leader referral, or employment call, or whatever. But as it turns out, having a tracked and recorded phone line is also a very good opportunity for a little training. So I want you to take this back to your staff. And I totally want you to blame me for this. And tell your staff that you had talked to a consultant or you were talking with a consultant in phone training. And I’m really not a phone training consultant. But I want you to tell them that you talked to a phone training consultant. And here were the recommendations and we’re going to try this.
So let me back up for just a second before I tell you what to try. When a very overwhelmed adult child of an aging parent or a senior calls your office, they need to hear comfort, caring, compassion.
They don’t need to hear, “ABC Home Care. No. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have no idea what to tell you. I don’t know anything about you.”
That is not what they want to hear. They may be confused. They may be asking the wrong questions. They may be saying things that don’t quite make sense to the person who answers the phone. But that’s okay. They actually took a moment, and picked up the phone, and called you. And everybody watching this video wants their phone to ring more with prospects and potential clients. And for a lot of you right now, you want the phone to ring with potential caregivers.
So if the person answering your phone in your office comes off as kind of a jerk, number one, I’m not going to let you take care of my mom. And number two, I’m not going to work for you. Because I have 1000 other choices in this area. And I’m not going to work for somebody who answers the phone and sounds like a total jerk.
So let’s talk about the way we should be answering the phone. And let me preface this by saying I understand that your staff is tired of answering the phone. And they’re tired of solicitation calls. And they’re tired of caregivers calling in sick. And they’re tired of the no-shows for interviews. And they’re tired of people who are just plain old dingbat on the phone. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how many times your staff has answered the phone today. It could be 500 times they’ve answered the phone today. And whatever was on the other end was completely irritating. That is no excuse for answering the phone the 501st time and still sounding like a jerk. It doesn’t excuse it.
If somebody in your office is answering the phone like they don’t care, that’s because they really don’t have your best interest or the best interest of the person on the other end potentially in their heart. They’re burned out. They’re totally burned out on answering that phone. Switch it up. Let someone else answer the phone. Or have every … Twice a year, every six months. Because guess what. You tell them to change this behavior today, they’ll be back to this in six months. It’s the nature of human behavior. So if someone in your office is answering the phone and they don’t sound like the nicest person on the planet, it’s time to think about switching up who answers your phone or how they’re answering it.
Here is my example. I’m 48 years old. Been around the block a while. Everybody says customer service in general in our world today pretty much sucks. Nobody wants to talk to somebody in India. Nobody wants to be put on hold. It just … Phone call sucks. So if somebody actually takes the time to call your office, they’ve been through a lot of bad customer service in their life already, so let’s not make this another one to add to that pile. So when someone calls your office, whether it’s a solicitor or it’s that elderly gentleman who’s confused a little bit, or that caregiver who may have gotten confused about how to go about scheduling themselves for an interview with you, or how to fill out an application, don’t be a jerk. Be happy. Be happy that someone took the time to call your office.
Here’s how I would like to hear the phone answered every time I call your home care agency. And I don’t care who answers the phone. I don’t care.
This is how it should sound. “ABC Home Care. This is Valerie, may I help you? Oh, you’re looking for … You want to set up an interview? Okay, have you submitted an application with us? No? Okay. Well, why don’t you just give me one second and I’ll get the person who handles that. We need you to submit an application before you come in and we can help you get to that application. Or if you’d like, you can come in here and use our computer and fill it out. Okay, well let me have you talk to so and so. I’ll be right back, okay? Hang on.” Put them on hold. “Hey, so and so, someone’s a little bit confused about how to go about working for us but they could use a little help getting to the application. Could you help them?”
And I’m so and so now. “Oh, absolutely. This is so and so. How can I help you? Are you looking for a way to fill out an application and come in for an interview? Awesome. Okay, here’s what you do. You have two choices. I can give you the website address that takes you right to our application. Or if you don’t have a computer and you’d rather do it on a computer, you can come into our office and I’d be happy to help you get that application filled out and we can do your interview right then and there. Is it okay if I ask you a couple of questions? Do you have a valid drivers license, and do you have reliable transportation and are you a CNA or an HHA? Okay, great. All sounds good. What day would you like to come in? All right, we’ll see you on Tuesday at 10 AM. If you have any troubles, just give me a callback and we can even arrange for transportation if that’s something you need.” I don’t know. “Okay, see you tomorrow at 10 AM.” Click.
Okay, that was nice.
Now that person felt welcomed, they felt like you gave a shit, they weren’t put off.
You didn’t say, “They don’t do it that way. What do you mean interview? We don’t have anybody that comes in just for an interview, you have to fill out an application first.”
That is not the way to handle it. I don’t care if that person shows up or doesn’t show up. You haven’t any idea what’s going on in their life. And maybe this is something they’ve really been looking forward to is applying for a job closer to their home and in-home care but they’re not really web savvy and they only are looking at a cell phone and that’s really hard to fill out that long, crazy application you’re making them fill out. So why not have a computer available to them to fill out? Or sit and help them. Maybe they’re not a great reader. Maybe they’re not a great speller. But if they’re an excellent caregiver, who cares?
Okay, next. If an elderly gentleman, or a female, or an overwhelmed adult child who’s not in this business, call you and they don’t seem to be making sense, here’s how you answer that call.
“ABC Home Care. This is Valerie, may I help you? Oh, okay. You know what? I’m not exactly sure. But if you just hang on one second, I will get somebody on the phone who can help you. Okay, hang on. Hey, so and so, I got a guy on the phone that says he wants a free senior care guide or he’s ask for it. Can you take this call? Yes. Okay great.”
“This is so and so, how can I help you?” “Well, I’m not sure. “Oh, okay. Well, let me ask you a couple of questions and then we’ll get some information out to you or help you with whatever you might need. Okay, uh-huh, yeah. Why don’t you give me your mailing address and I will mail this right out to you? Okay. And what’s going on at your house? Oh, I see. I see. Your wife is having some troubles. Yeah. Oh, yeah. I know it’s hard. Well, I’ll tell you what. I can answer any questions that you might have and then we’ll be happy to mail out your senior care guide to you and some other literature. And if you need our help, you can give us a call. And in fact, I’ll call you back in about a week and find out how you’re doing and if there’s any other questions I can answer. Does that sound good? All right, I’ll check up on you in about a week. Thanks, bye-bye.”
How hard was that? That wasn’t hard. And you may never get that person as a client. But by golly, that old dude or that old lady is probably going to tell three people that you were the nicest person they’ve ever talked to on the phone. And that if somebody needs home care, that’s probably a great company to go with.
So here’s the deal. I don’t care how many times you’ve answered the phone today. I don’t care if the person who answers your phone is your best friend, the best coworker you’ve ever had, the person who’s been with you from the very beginning. If they’re answering the phone and they sound like a complete jerk, then you need to change who answers your phone. Because if they’re a jerk, the minute they pick up the phone because they’ve had 400 calls today that were solicitations, or wrong numbers, or caregivers calling in sick, it doesn’t matter. Being nice to the next person who calls on that phone is important.
And by the way, maybe if they were nice to everybody who called, they wouldn’t get as many call-ins. If you treat your caregivers like lowly people or like you don’t care, then guess what? They’re not going to care either. Some of the home care agencies out there that I have the privilege of working with don’t have caregiver shortages, they don’t have caregiver problems. And I can tell you that the reason for this is 110% the way they treat their caregivers. And I realize that most of you out there not only answer the phone correctly, and kindly, and compassionately, but you also treat your caregivers like gold and you still have issues. I totally get that. But the ones that are happy, and healthy, and invite their caregivers to lunch, and are so concerned about them when they’re sick, and send them little goodies, and make sure they come in to get their caregiver of the month gift, or whatever. Those people who take the time to do that are the ones who have caregivers who stay with them for years, and years, and years.
So please, please, please, please, if nothing else, get a tracked and recorded line, and listen from a stranger’s perspective as to how people in your office are answering your phone. It doesn’t matter who it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best employee you ever had. If they’re toxic on the phone, they’re going to be toxic in your business. So that’s my tip for today. And it’s because I heard a lot of phone calls lately. And no leads are going to be closed and no caregivers are going to be hired when you have toxic people answering your phone.
Okay? So that’s it. Tell your staff that a consultant told you that this is how you’re going to be answering the phone for the next six months. And that somebody will be doing mystery calls to make sure that everybody’s answering the phone super politely and compassionately no matter who it is that calls. Okay? So just tell your staff that. Give them an example of how they should be answering the phone. And how if they are not sure what the person wants, they’ll be happy to help. Just let me ask a couple of questions. And then when you hang up the phone, you can go CRAZY all you want.
But on the phone, you are like a totally different person.
Valerie’s motto and favorite saying is: “Impact is not created by big budgets, impact is created by innovative marketing ideas!”
Valerie is a Registered Nurse and the author of three books, Aging Answers (2003), The Senior Solution (2007) and Priceless Caregiving (2009). Her adventure in internet marketing began as a self-promotion experiment and ended up becoming a full time marketing consulting business for the elder care market.
Valerie has appeared on national television (Today Show), has hosted her own local radio show, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications and radio shows across the country regarding her business and the business of elder care.
She fast became the foremost authority in driving sales via the internet, seminars, and e-mail for senior service providers and elder care entrepreneurs.While Valerie’s best known for her expertise in marketing, her students share that her biggest impact comes from her ability to make things happen quickly, even on a small budget.
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