Click here to listen to Daniel Bobrow’s interview with Lydia Ramsey, the author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish that Builds Profits.
Ms. Ramsey is an international business etiquette specialist, prolific writer and, since 1998 presented seminars and workshops to thousands of corporate workers across the nation and worldwide.
She recently worked with the Voice Of America China help Chinese nationals with cross cultural communication.
According to Ramsey, helping organizations promote themselves by “adding polish that builds profits” is a carefully chosen subtitle to her book. The title underscores the point that people often miss that,in today’s competitive world, the risk of ‘commoditization’ ones product or service seems ever present. Going after the same market with an offering that is perceived to be interchangeable makes differe4ntiation not just a ‘nice to have;’ it is vital in maintaining a dental practice’s profit margins.
That’s where advanced interpersonal skills comes in.
Having a professional approach, appearance, and demaeanor, using that little touch of manners and etiquette can mean the difference between a appointment and a no-show. It can mean the difference between a successful case presentation and “I’ll think about it.”
Manners are something that people sometimes cannot even detect, but they feel it. More important, they show it in their action.
In the world of marketing, packaging is of course vital. The typical dental patient is not able to discern differences in quality of clinical service, but they certainly know when someone makes them feel special, cared for, and respected.
That why top-shelf customer service remains one of the best ways to keep from falling into the commoditization trap.
When it comes to telephone etiquette, areas where dental team members are often challenged includes concerns include transfer of a call, placing a caller on hold, and voicemail.
Transferring phone calls
People will often state as one of their pet peeves being transferred to another team member – people dread hearing “I need to transfer your call.” almost as much as “Hold please” (more on this in a minute). Both can create a stricken feeling version on anger that the caller is not going to be required to wait longer and then need to repeat him/herself.
First, avoid use of the ‘transfer’ opting instead for ‘connect’, ‘place in touch,’ ‘help get you to the correct person,’ etc. Second, always explain to the caller why you are transferring them: how it will help them. Third, be sure the person is there – don’t send them to a voicemail! Finally, give them your name and number “…in the event we should get disconnected or you do not get what you need.”
Placing a caller on hold
“Please Hold!” is not the way to place a caller on hold! Always communicate in terms of how you action is going to help the caller. A great way to do this is by using the last phrase from The TAFI Introduction May I place you on hold per TAFI Introduction “Would you mind if I place you on hold for just a moment, so that 1. I can get to a quiet area, and give you my undivided attention? or 2. I can connect you with the appropriate party?” Both scripts show the caller that you care about them, which is usually about 90% of what the typical caller wants first and foremost.
Use of voicemail
Most voicemail message are way too long:That’s because they use filler material such as “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911” and “Office hours are Monday through Wednesday, and alternate Thursdays, Saturdays by appointment…” If anything the second example actually encourages callers to NOT leave a message. When you consider that just about every dental appointment is preceded by a telephone call, that is, walk-ins are extremely rare, callers are going to need to talk to you to schedule an appointment so why share your hours with them on your voicemail? The answer is; you shouldn’t!
Keep your voicemail short. Twenty-five seconds should be more than sufficient. The shorter the better. Just be sure your message exudes caring and enthusiasm. Show concern. Although you’re not actually having a conversation, your message is communicating with a real human being, so keep that in mind when you record your outgoing message.