How to Answer Business Telephone Calls Professionally
The first few seconds of a phone call can influence client satisfaction more than anything that follows. It sets the tone, and you want to impress clients with professionalism when answering calls. I'll tell you how.
I ran a business for over 30 years, and I learned the importance of training my staff to know how to answer the phone and how to handle telephone conversations in a businesslike manner. There are several crucial things to consider, so let's get started.
How To Say Hello When Answering a Business Phone
You don't want your personnel to answer with a long drawn out spiel. But you may have a preference for what the welcoming introduction should be.
Write a script and provide it to all personnel. It should be simple and to the point, such as "Thank you or calling Xyz Corporation. How may I help you?"
In some cases, you may want your employees to state their name or the name of the specific department. Such as "This is the accounting department. How may I help you?"
It's essential to instruct your personnel on how to properly answer your business phone professionally so that everyone puts out the same message with a certain amount of consistency. Even part-timers you hire should be included with the training.
Be Prepared to Take Notes
A notepad or paper, and pen or pencil, should be available at all times by each telephone.
Personnel should write the caller's name before getting involved in the discussion. Otherwise, it may quickly be forgotten. If the caller doesn't say his or her name, ask for it before going any further.
Jot down details of the conversation while talking. It's important to know whom you were speaking with and what was discussed. That helps if you need to refer to the phone conversation again later.
Use the caller's name once in a while throughout the conversation. And again, at the end, when you thank them for calling. When the caller hears you repeat his or her name, they will feel that they are important to you.
Use Proper Phone Etiquette
We don't have the advantage of visual feedback or body language when talking on the phone. The focus should always be on making a positive impression for your company.
It's essential to pay extra attention to the way the other party sounds. Try to pick up on a caller's feelings.
If they are frustrated about something, show compassion, and understanding. Make every effort to listen and respond accordingly to their needs.
Everyone Should Know Your Business Policies
There will be times when someone will make unreasonable requests on the phone. Here is an example of how this can work against you:
I once sent my product to a customer who said he didn't have a credit card and wanted me to ship with an invoice. His company later claimed he was not authorized to make purchases, and they refused to pay. I then made a policy only to accept orders prepaid by cash or credit card.
Policies are not meant to make things difficult. They are intended to keep the business profitable. So make sure all your employees know your policies and stick to them when dealing with customers over the phone.
Good manners are required when speaking to customers. I once caught an employee becoming irate when a customer asked for help. He took it personally and talked back to the customer in an unfriendly way.
You must discover early if this is happening so you can correct it before doing too much harm to your company.
Proper Use of Grammar
If you hire people who don't use English as their native language, then they may not use proper grammar. That can make a bad impression on your company.
These employees may be very good at what they do, but you may not want them to answer your phones. And if you do, then it may benefit your success if you were to give these employees some form of training in ESL.
Over the Phone vs. Face-to-Face Conversations
When you work face-to-face with someone, it's easy to focus on that person. But when talking over the phone, all you have is their voice in our ear.
Things might be going on around you that attract your attention away from the caller. Don't let this happen. It will create a feeling of disinterest in the mind of the caller. You might lose a good customer over that.
Make sure your work environment is set up so that your personnel has as few distractions as possible, especially for those who work over the phone.
It's also vital to give verbal feedback to the caller to show that you understand his or her issues or concerns. Instruct your staff to do that. It helps when dealing with callers who are complaining or who have problems.
Handling Customer Complaints
Customers will always remember how responsive your employees were to their problems. A positive attitude will make a lasting impression and can bring more business in the future.
Remember that when talking over the phone. One cannot see a caller, so verbal communication is more critical than ever. Try to notice the stress level of the caller. Their tone could make that apparent. Respond to that with a positive and friendly attitude.
Have a policy in place to know how your company has chosen to deal with everyday problems. Make sure all personnel know these policies so that they can respond quickly and decisively to customer complaints over the phone.
How To Use a Business Phone Answering System
A short greeting is all that's necessary, announcing the company name along with a simple-to-follow list of routing options. Some companies use greetings that callers dread listening to because they want to get connected to the right person quickly.
Never waste the caller's time with promotional announcements in the greeting message. Lengthy greetings can especially frustrate repeat callers who already know your company.
It's best to provide a simple list of options the caller can select, such as how to reach the most sort-after departments or personnel.
Always include a known method of reaching a receptionist who can help callers who don't know for sure what department they need to speak with for any particular issue. Option zero is mandatory for that reason.
With the proper configuration of your phone system and a businesslike manner of answering and handling calls, your customers will notice the professionalism of your company. That will keep them coming back whenever they need something that your business provides.
© 2012 Glenn Stok