The right way to answer the phone?
Seth Godin has a great post up today (admittedly, most of his posts are great ones) about handling customer phone calls. Here's his opening salvo: "The new rules mean that the most valuable marketing event is almost always an inbound phone call."
I'll admit that answering member calls is something I struggle with, because in my career in association communications, I've often received calls from members with questions that had nothing to do with my area of expertise--the member operating under the assumption that "communications" meant that I knew the answers to any given question they might have. I've struggled with the conflict between wanting to give great customer service and just not knowing the answer to a question. And, of course, no member enjoys being bounced all over creation while they're trying to find the one person with the answer they need.
But last week I noticed something while I was working at Springtime: The hardest questions I had to answer were the brand-new ones. Once I had told one person where the closest Starbucks was or how to get to the general session, I could answer the question easily and fluently the next time it was asked. Our meetings department gave me pretty much all the information I needed, but I had to go through the experience of answering the question once to upload it properly into my brain.
I'm wondering: Would it be worthwhile to cycle all of your staff through a few weeks of answering member phone calls? It would certainly be hard work for all concerned, but would it help your staff get a truly fluent familiarity with the questions your members tend to ask--and therefore help them to provide better customer service when called upon to answer those questions again?