The phone rings in the average community management company. For the person answering the phone, there’s a 50/50 chance that the person on the other end is waiting to unleash their fury and rage over a lawn mowing or trash can issue. The first few words to the caller can dictate the course of the entire conversation. Let’s ask: Which would you prefer?
“Happy Management Company. How can I direct your call?”
“Good morning, thank you for calling Happy Management Company. How may I help you?”
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that first impression typically falls on the shoulders of our receptionist or customer service center. That impression should always be friendly, courteous, and project an active desire to help the caller. While management companies spend a lot of time and focus on their managers keeping Boards of Directors satisfied, they often overlook the importance of providing that initial positive customer service experience.
The next time the phone rings in your office, ask yourself: What message are we sending? Is the caller a bother, or is the caller a valued client whom we wish to help? The difference is as simple as changing a few words in reception’s script: From “How can I direct your call?” to “How may I assist you today?” That seemingly minor change makes all the difference in the mindset of the caller, letting them know their concern is your concern. Remember, most people want only two things, 1) to be heard and 2) to have their issue resolved. Making the caller feel like you’re there to listen and help is real customer service and makes for happier clients.
“How may I help you?” A simple phrase that we too often take for granted in our daily interactions. It should be our goal as management to impress upon our clients that we are listening to them and we want to help.
Lulu Rodriguez-King is Director of Strategy and Operations at SFMC, Inc. in Manassas, VA and a member of the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of Community Associations Institute.