Ask an Expert Judy Cude

How does a small business make a BIG impression on the telephone?

I am so glad you asked! I am passionate about making a great first impression for every caller whether it’s their first call or they’ve called a hundred times before. Even if they’ve called the wrong number, I believe people remember those interactions. The overall success of any business depends on the impression made on every phone call.


There’s a lot of competition, how do we stand out?

Yes, there is a lot of competition, but I think that’s actually a good thing when it comes to making a great impression on the telephone.

Customers are used to automated systems now. They expect to be forced to narrow down their needs to a one-through-nine “press this” list. Calling a small business should be refreshing in comparison. It’s a golden opportunity for the small business to make a bigger impression than their big-business counterparts.

We have to seize the opportunity though because if the caller doesn’t feel the person they are speaking with really cares about them, there’s a good chance the customer would rather be handled by an automated system. They anticipate a computer to be indifferent, but not a fellow human being.

So, despite more competition, if we are being intentional about the service we are providing to each customer, the human interaction will set the small business experience apart from big-business automation.  

It’s a beautiful time for your small businesses to really stand out.


How do we make sure we’re making a great first impression on the phone?

Happy woman answering phoneI think there’s a lot of training for staff on how to handle that very first call. And that’s really important, but I think small businesses need to understand that every time a customer calls there is a “first impression” opportunity.  Every experience a customer has with the person answering their call determines what they believe the entire company is about.

I know as a customer myself, I’ve had a great experience on my first call to a business only to have a very different experience on subsequent calls. Which changed my opinion about the business moving forward.

That’s the power your front-line staff holds. There must be consistency in how callers are handled and that’s where I believe choosing the right person for the job is key.

The right person has a heart for service! Yes, you are running a business, but at the end of the day, it’s about the human element. People are people and especially for a small business, every customer counts.

The right person truly wants each caller to feel special, appreciated and happy about the connection after speaking with them. Yes, making sure they have the basic skill set is important when choosing who answers your phone. But for your business to make an outstanding impression consistently, you want someone who has a passion for the job. You can train skills, but you can’t train the heart.


So, what does the “right person” look like?

Great question! Your ideal person truly wants to not only answer questions but to make a meaningful connection with that caller. They understand and appreciate what customer loyalty means to the business. They are sincerely eager to help, and more importantly, they understand that they represent their entire team and the business’s brand promise.

When the phone rings, they don’t see that opportunity as “just another call”. They pick up that phone with the intent to treat the caller like family. It’s not an interruption to their day, it’s the chance to brighten their day.

I know this may sound like sunshine and roses, but I truly believe the right person to answer the phone is a small dose of just that, “sunshine”. Look for people who just naturally love people.


What are some specific things to look for when choosing our “right person”?

happy receptionistAnother great question! You want someone who can easily, and without much training at all:

  • Express enthusiasm and cheerfulness.
  • Treat each caller with genuine care, courtesy and, respect.
    • No matter if they are a new customer or a telemarketer. The right person believes that every caller deserves to be treated kindly.
  • Make sure the caller’s questions are answered and will go above and beyond to do so.
    • No matter how insignificant their question is, they won’t quit until they get them the help they need.
  • Be friendly and empathetic throughout the call; even if the caller is frustrated or having a bad day. They are consistently courteous.
  • Finds the good, praises it and celebrates people.
  • Loves their job, enjoys their role and is proud to be the voice of your company.


I absolutely love my job! When I see who’s calling, I truly enjoy answering the phone “It’s a beautiful day just for you {person’s name}.  I feel like I am making a difference when I hear someone say, “I was having a bad day and you just made it better.” And I make sure to let them know they brightened my day as well.

I always thank them for calling, communicate that I am happy to help them and before we hang up, I wish them an awesome day.

I am always looking for ways to improve my phone skills. I really believe that when you love what you do, appreciate seeing clients happy, are proud of the team you work with, and enjoy people in general, it’s fairly easy to make each caller feel important, cared for and to make a BIG impression on them.  


Already part of the Affordable Image family but curious about how we can help you ensure your team is making a great first impression? New to Affordable Image and want to know how we can help with your overall marketing strategy? CALL 800.639.1622 NOW!  We’ll help you get started before you can say “big impression” .