Speak Up, Please!

Spa retailers record calls to improve training and customer service

“This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.”

We’ve all heard this familiar phrase when dialing our internet provider, medical center or nearly any other service. Many companies record incoming calls from customers and outgoing calls from their service and sales departments to ensure customer satisfaction. But these calls also provide useful insights on customer issues that might arise and how to improve sales performance.

“We don’t feel it’s necessary to pull up every call, but we do ‘police’ them,” says Sean Schaben, co-owner and vice president of Hot Spring Spas and Endless Pools of Iowa and Minnesota, with six locations in two states.

Georgia Spa Company records and follows the calls closely at its seven Atlanta-metro locations, says executive vice president David Baker. “Our managers regularly monitor calls,” he says. “We look at them, listen to them and read the transcripts for quality training.”

Both companies have robust training programs that benefit from these recorded calls. From a service standpoint, most potential technical issues have already come up during new employee training, Schaben says. 

“Our service coordinators are trained to handle various scenarios,” he says. “We pretty much have a script that they go by; it’s basic and just gives the customer the right information for what they need to facilitate the appointment.” 

Occasionally, some miscommunication occurs. “We use those recorded calls to verify what information was provided to the customer and what resolution we gave,” Schaben says. “[If there’s a miscommunication] it’s usually a newer employee who doesn’t understand all the protocols. Even though we have an extensive training program, there’s still a learning curve.” 

Sales staff also benefit from the recorded calls. According to Schaben, the company spends a lot of resources training its sales team and will sometimes pull a call just to see how it went, particularly with new employees. These reviews help managers evaluate performance, give feedback and identify growth areas, he says. Sometimes, they’ll draw employees into the call review to hear what they sounded like. “It’s good to know how you come across; you don’t always know that,” he says.

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Even though the hot tub market is growing, there’s less foot traffic in showrooms than during the pandemic, Baker says, with hot tubs becoming a “more digital buy.” Customers have already done a lot of research, he says, so sales team phone calls “need to take the customers as far as they can go. Our strategy is to treat customers as if they were shopping in one of our physical stores.”  

That includes training the sales team to keep customers on the phone. “If [the call] is only two minutes, that’s probably not a productive conversation, not building a relationship,” he says, noting it’s ideal to try to stay on the call for five minutes or more.

The learning curve works both ways. By analyzing call records, companies can adapt their best practices. Georgia Spa instituted a call queuing system for its service department that ensures customers don’t feel ignored by getting directed to voicemail, Baker says. Instead, “they are informed that the next available representative will assist them — a strategy that has been successful in our industry and many others.”

Hot Spring Spas of Iowa and Minnesota has also made improvements in its sales process based on the evaluation of recorded calls, resulting in more positive and clear communication, according to Schaben. 

At Georgia Spa, the combination of HubSpot for customer relationship management and Vonage, which records calls, has made communication seamless, Baker says.

Schaben says his company uses “a lot of digital [tools], and we took our time developing them. Every call recording company has its different rates and formats, so you have to find the one that fits you best.” 

A final consideration: While that ubiquitous announcement at the start of a call serves as a legal and compliance tool in many states, it is also a useful tool for all retailers. “When customers hear that they’re being recorded for quality assurance and training purposes, they know right away that there’s a clear record of their conversations, too,” Schaben says. 

Baker agrees: “It puts everyone on a professional level.”