Prank Calls May be GOOD for Business

How to Answer a PhoneLast week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a very candid phone conversation with right-wing billionaire David Koch – or so he thought. The journalist responsible for the prank call shared a recording of the chat and pundits didn’t hesitate to scrutinize Walker’s every word.

Lucky for Walker’s press team, the Governor seemed to share the same opinions in private as he had in public regarding the state budget, unions and the legislature. But they are politicians – masters of public relations. But for everyone who has ever hired someone to answer the phone – how do you train your sales and support staff to stay ‘on message’?

Say as I Do – and as I say you do

Some small businesses think all they can do to train sales and support staff, is to provide a standardized training and phone scripts; provide examples of frequently asked questions, observe and provide feedback post-mortem, and use incentives to encourage employees to stick to the company’s scripted talking points. They believe call recording or monitoring is more hassle than dazzle. But believe it or not, there are services that let you set this up with your existing phone system/computers.

A virtual call center is a web-based service that lets businesses manage their inbound support call effectiveness in real-time. They’re easy enough to set up:

1. Get virtual call center – add your agents

Virtual call center agents should each have their own extension. Most virtual applications allow these extensions to forward to any existing cell/landline/VoIP phone number.

2. Set up the call center ‘rules’

This is where things can get really fancy… but the most basic setup is creating a queue in which you set an order in which your agents will receive calls, and choosing recorded music or info for callers in queue. The benefit of the virtual call centers is that a supervisor would be able to monitor customer calls from anywhere in real-time. Call recordings, though not immediately useful for training or feedback, at least provide greater context in evaluating your employees’ performance on the phone.

3. Pick a call and Go!

Once a call is in progress, supervisors can pick a call to monitor and BAM! Instantaneous connection and, if the supervisor and rep are on an instant messenger service, the rep can get real-time feedback and advice on a call.

Note: if you record calls, make sure you are aware of the disclosure laws in both your state AND those of your callers’. Some states require 2-party consent to monitor or record conversations, while others only require 1-party consent. Want to play it safe? Make sure a recorded message is included in your hold music that lets all callers know ahead of time that their call may be recorded.