Many people are going to get their first impression of your program through the telephone. Who answers your telephone? Who answers when that person is not available? Do they all understand phone etiquette and what is expected of them? Do they understand that they can make a great first impression and make someone excited about the possibility of enrolling in your program or make a horrible first impression and assure that person never sets foot on your property?
In my very first job in a child care center, I was the Assistant Director of a well-established program. We had a receptionist who answered the phone (very professionally) and when she was unavailable, the phone rang in one of the preschool rooms for one of the teachers to answer. I was walking past that classroom one day when I heard the phone ring. The teacher answered it with the words "Daycare. What do you want?" All I could think was "Who is on the other end of that phone and what must they be thinking right now?"
Prior to that incident, I assumed that phone etiquette was common knowledge. I realized in that moment that not everyone knows how to properly answer a phone, which leads to the knowledge that not everyone knows how to properly respond to a client or potential client’s questions. Who we have answering our phones and how they do it could make or break our program.
So, how do we make sure that the messages I would like to have shared with people are the same messages my staff will be sharing? We establish the standard and then train our staff so that they understand our expectations.
- How would we like the phone answered?
- What happens if you are helping a parent when the phone rings?
- How do you handle a conflict with a parent?
- What verbal and nonverbal techniques should be used?
- How do you take a message for another staff member....and be sure that person receives the message in a timely manner?
After you establish your Customer Relations Policy, you need to ensure that EVERY staff member is trained on it during their New Employee Orientation. You work hard to ensure the success of your program. Don't let a mistaken assumption of common knowledge undermine all of your hard work.