With everything that is currently going on in dealerships, nothing is more noticeable than the phones ringing off the hook. With each state, county and city having their own individual rules on social distancing, showrooms being open, or parts being delivered curbside, the phone has become once again the lifeline we have to connect with our customers.

I thought because of that it might be a good time to go back over some of the basic rules for the proper way to handle phone calls coming into your dealership. In all cases, a phone call from a customer starts with the phone ringing. The question is how many times it should be allowed to ring before it is either picked up and answered or it flows into an auto attendant that gives the caller options that they can chose from. That magic number is three rings. The perfect time to answer is on the second ring, but if that is not possible then by the third ring the phone either needs to be picked up or transferred to another person or again a voice mail.

When you answer the phone, it is important to have a smile on your face. While the caller can’t see you, they can get a sense of who you are by the way your voice sounds. When it comes to answering the phone, it doesn’t matter what has happened in your life prior to you picking up the phone, what matters is how the caller perceives your attitude towards them. That smile changes the tone of your voice and makes the customer feel like they are important to you. Keep in mind that when you are face to face with a customer, only 38 percent of your effectiveness comes from the tone and pace of your voice, 7 percent are the words you say and 55 percent is because of the non-verbal cues your body is giving off. On the phone, over 80% of your effectiveness come from the tone and pace of your voice. That smile you start the conversation with goes a long way in building trust and confidence with your caller.

Once you answer the phone, how you use your words will, in many cases, determine how the caller will interact with you. You should always say, “Good morning, or Good Afternoon, Thanks for calling XYZ Dealership, my name is Bob, how can I help you?” Again, a nice greeting tends to create a nice exchange. If you are abrupt or quick with the caller, they will have less patience with you.  If you are with a customer when the phone rings, ask the customer you are with to pause for a second as you pick up the phone. At this point you use the same greeting, let the caller know you are with a customer and ask if they would mind being put on hold for a short time. The key to being on hold is the phrase– short time. About every 45 seconds you need to reconnect with the caller to make sure they still good with holding or at least give them an option of being transferred to someone else.  If you feel like it might be a few minutes, ask them to give you their number so you can call them back when you are finished with the customer you are working with.

In your dealership, it’s important to understand that the person calling in is not calling to have small talk with you, they are calling because they have a problem and need your dealership’s help in solving it.  Keep in mind that regardless of how small their problem might seem to you, its big to them and they are looking for your help in solving it.

Take some time today, work on your phone skills and help your dealership take your customers experience to the next level.