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Live Calls: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

When it comes to sales calls, we’ve heard it all. From unhelpful family members answering business calls to angry customers turned into brand evangelists, there truly is a range in quality when it comes to how businesses answer the phone. Our team set out to listen and learn using real life call examples so we could share our findings and help others improve business relations, one call at a time. Below we explore real calls with a grade of either Pass or Fail, including details about what went right and what went wrong during the conversation.

Live Calls

Examples From Real-life Calls

The following calls are based on real conversations between real customers and real businesses. No personally identifiable information has been included and modifications to the conversations have been made to protect the individuals of these calls where necessary. All business names and personal names have been changed in the following call examples.

Customer Calls Air Conditioning Business

Business Owner: Air Conditioners Inc., how can I help you?

Caller: Hi.

Business Owner: How can I help you?

Caller: I’m wondering if you can give me information about installing air conditioning in my home.

Business Owner: Yes, but I don’t have prices. The process to get a price involves sending a technician to your house who will build you a free estimate.

Caller: Ok what types of air conditioners do you have?

Business Owner: We carry four main types of air conditioning models [owner lists them].

Caller: Ok what information do you need from me for the estimate?

Business Owner: Just your name, address and phone number.

Caller: [Gives required details] Could I have an appointment after 1pm?

Business Owner: Unfortunately our technician is only available at 8am.

Caller: Ok that’s early but it will have to do. Thanks.

Business Owner: My pleasure, thanks for calling!

Grade: Pass. Owner is helpful and polite and books an estimate with the customer.

Customer Cancels Appointment

Caller: Hi, I have an appointment on Tuesday at 2pm that I’d like to cancel.

Business Owner: Ok.

Caller: …I’ll call back for another appointment.

Grade: Fail. Owner doesn’t ask why and is dry with the customer. Always find our why and try to reschedule on-the-spot.

Caller Can’t Get Delivery On Time

Business Owner: Hello, this is Paul’s Pool Palace!

Caller: Hi, I’m wondering if you have a part in stock for my pool?

Business Owner: Ok. We might, tell me what you’re looking for.

Caller: I’m looking for a type of replacement hose for the cleaner. This is the number on it [caller gives details of part].

Business Owner: Ok. Let me check our system. … Ok. We don’t have it in stock at the moment but we can order it and it will be here in two weeks for you to come pick up from the store.

Caller: Two weeks!! It’s the middle of the summer and my pool is broken! I can go to any other pool store and have it faster than this.

Business Owner: Ok well unfortunately that’s not true sir. While I do appreciate your situation, we all order and operate from the same supplier and no one keeps an inventory of these parts in stock. No matter who you buy from, there will be an ordering and delivery period.

Caller: [Pause] I guess let’s just order it then. Is there any chance it will come in sooner than that?

Business Owner: I can put a note to rush it ok, but in my experience the two week period is common.

Caller: Well what choice do I have? [Gives personal information and orders part].

Grade: Pass. Owner saves call with unhappy customer, by staying calm and showing expertise and professional confidence. Owner says “OK” a little too frequently.

Miscommunicated Part Replacement

Business Owner’s Wife: Yeah?

Caller: Hi, I’m calling because I left a message last week about a part I need to replace and no one got back to me.

Business Owner’s Wife: [says nothing, puts phone down, shuffling is heard]

Caller: Hello? Hello?

Business Owner’s Wife: Is this Harold?

Caller: No this is Steve.

Business Owner’s Wife: Oh ok sorry, I’ll get my husband to call you back to do an estimation.

Caller: No that’s not why I’m calling.

Business Owner’s Wife: Yes, the installation process is easy and free. He will call you back to book an appointment ok?

Caller: No I already have your product, I’m a customer! That’s why I’m calling! I need to order a new part!

Business Owner’s Wife: Ok I’ll get my husband to call you back. What’s your number?

Caller: Ughh ok. [Gives personal information in frustrated tone].

Grade: Fail. Owner’s wife is unhelpful and doesn’t listen to what the customer is saying. Business owner should answer the phone or put a trained staff member on the job.

No Time for Jokes

Business Owner: Hello?

Caller: Hi, is this the owner of the business?

Business Owner: Depends who’s asking [laughs].

Caller: [hangs up]

Grade:Fail. Customer hangs up before conversation even begins!

Lawyer’s Receptionist Not Being Helpful

Receptionist: Yes this is We Know the Law Lawyers, how can I help you?

Caller: Hi I’m hoping you can help me with my mother’s immigration case.

Receptionist: No, we don’t do immigration law.

Caller: Ok can you refer me to a firm that does?

Receptionist: No, check the Yellow Pages. [hangs up].

Grade: Fail. Rude and unhelpful response that ends abruptly. Person who called will remember this and tell their circle of friends (who may be looking for a lawyer in an area they do service).
Misleading Photography Information

Business Owner: Hello?

Caller: Hi, can you do a wedding photo shoot this summer?

Business Owner: No, I don’t do those anymore, I’m too busy.

Caller: Oh, ok I’m asking because it says on your website that you do wedding photography.

Business Owner: Yeah but it’s a waste of time for me now and I’m too busy for the next 6 months.

Caller: Oh, ok thaaanks….

Grade: Fail. Owner advertises services he no longer offers and is negative about this change.

Getting a Construction Job Quote

Business Owner: Angelo’s Construction

Caller: Hi, I’m looking for someone to renovate my kitchen this summer but just looking for quotes first.

Business Owner: Ok just send me a photo of your kitchen and we’ll send back the quote.

Caller: Really? Ok yeah I can do that, what email do I send it to?

Business Owner: Well you can see our company email address on our website, but it’s free_estimate@_____.com. You can also include my personal email in your mail to make sure I see it. My email address is Angelo@________.com

Caller: Ok great! Thanks! I’ll send that over right away. That’s easy enough.

Business Owner: Ok I’ll keep my eye out for it and you’re welcome. Have a nice day.

Caller: You too. Bye.

Grade: Pass. Owner is helpful, shows he cares and has an easy customer service process.

Yoga Teacher Gets Unexpected Student

Business Owner: Yes, this is ASDFG Yoga

Caller: Hi, I’m wondering if you offer yoga teacher training and certification?

Business Owner: No, unfortunately we don’t. Have you considered though what type of yoga you’d like to teach? The reason I’m asking is because each requires unique certification and of course a dedicated amount of time and training and I HIGHLY encourage you to try many different types of yoga before seeking certification. We offer hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, kripalu yoga, acrobatic yoga, hot yoga, baby yoga…even dog yoga!

Caller: Wow! I didn’t even think of that honestly, I sort of thought there would be a general certification class and then I could specialize from there, but that totally makes sense. I’m really curious to try acrobatic yoga with my boyfriend.

Business Owner: Well you should stop by the studio then! We offer that class Tuesday and Thursday mornings and afternoons. You could also watch some of the other classes if you wanted to get a sense of what they were like before seeking out training. Let me just write down your email address and I will send you some information about it.

Caller: That’s a great idea and I definitely will [gives email address]. Thanks you were really helpful and I’ll be there Tuesday!

Business Owner: Ok looking forward to having you! Have a blessed day.

Grade: Pass. Owner converts the wrong customer lead into new student and got contact info in order to follow up!

Closing the Call

Answering the phone is always a gamble of what will come next – good or bad. Business calls can certainly go either way and the adapted transcripts above can attest to that! Fortunately we can all learn and improve our practices. The calls above with a passing grade are inspirational examples of how business owners can align their call-answering practices. Similarly the calls with a failing grade, remind us of what not to do. By learning from real-life examples how to improve our business and sales calls we can take the best and leave the rest.

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