Talking with clients – the professional phone consultation.
One of the big challenges with operating a business out of your home is talking to clients on the phone.
Clients want to know you are running a professional business and that you are focused on their project. Having kids screaming, dogs barking, and the television playing in the background can totally distract from the professional image you are trying to convey.
Here are some easy solutions to creating a professional office image while working from home.
Communicate primarily through email
We all know the convenience of responding to email when we have had a chance to think about the questions from the client. Make sure to have a policy of responding to all emails with 24 to 48 hours during the regular business days even if you don’t have the answer yet. Responsiveness is the most important thing.Keep the message clear and professional.
Sarcasm and jokes never read the way you intended them to and could be misconstrued.
Establish office hours
Many moms who work from home hire a babysitter to come in, watch the kids and help with light housework during their “office hours”. This allows the kids to be safely in another part of the house while business calls are being made. This added expense may not be in the budget yet and so many Mom entrepreneurs trade “office hours” with other moms. One mom will take the kids on Monday and Wednesdays from 9 to noon and then the other mom will take the kids on Tuesday and Thursdays. As the kids get older office hours can be during school hours.
Having office hours for the work at home business owner is important to remind other family members that you are working and just because you are home does not mean they can come in and ask what’s for dinner.
Outsource your receptionist
One great solution that my small business used for years was an answering service. Instead of paying rent on an office space, installing phone service, and hiring someone to staff the office, we contracted with a service and only paid on a per call basis.The thing I loved about this service was that clients could call our number 24/7 and talk to a real live person who would answer with our business name. To our clients it seemed as though they were calling our fully staffed office. The service could take orders, make appointments, or take messages. For an additional charge they could put the person on hold and then connect the call through to my cell phone so that it would seem as though the customer was just being transferred from the receptionist to my office.
When using any outsourced service, I highly recommend that you test it out yourself. Call in as though you were a client to see how they handle the call. Make sure they are representing your company they way you want and make any corrections early and quickly.
AnswerForce.com – online answering service