How to Handle Telephone Calls in a Businesslike Manner
The first few seconds of a phone call influence client satisfaction more than anything that follows. It sets the tone.
First impressions are the most vital part of business success. This is where one can gain or lose a customer.
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 a number of things to consider. I'll explain each of these points in detail.
How To Say Hello When Answering
You don't want your personnel to answer with a long drawn out spiel. But you may have a preference of what the welcoming introduction should be.
So plan this 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 maybe the name of the specific department. Such as "This is the accounting department. How may I help you?"
It's important to instruct your personnel how to properly answer your business phone 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
Have a notepad or paper, and a pen or pencil, ready at all times by each telephone. As soon as the caller mentions their name, write it down.
If the caller doesn't say his or her name, ask for it before getting into a discussion.
Jot down details of the conversation while talking. It's important to know whom you were speaking with and what was discussed. This 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 realize that they are important to you.
The Importance of Proper Phone Etiquette
We don't have the advantage of visual feedback or body language when talking on the phone. So it's important to pay extra attention to the way the other party sounds.
Try to pick up on their feelings. If they are frustrated about something, show your concern and understanding. Make every effort to listen and respond accordingly to their needs.
Focus should always be on making a positive impression for your company.
Everyone Should Know Your Business Policies:
Business policy should not be shortchanged, however. There will be times when someone calls and makes unreasonable requests.
Here is an example of how this can work against you:
I once shipped 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 later made a policy to only accept orders prepaid by cash or credit card.
So make sure all your employees know your policies and stick to them when dealing with customers over the phone.
Good manners are important when speaking with customers. I once caught an employee becoming irate when a customer asked for help. He took it personally and spoke back to the customer in an unfriendly way.
It's important that you discover early if this is happening so you can do something about it before too much harm is done.
Show Professionalism with Proper Use of Grammar
If you hire people who don't use English as their native language, then they may not use proper grammar. This can make a bad impression for you company.
These employees may be very good at what they do, but you may not want them answering your phones. And if you do, then it may be a benefit to your success if you were to give these employees some form of training in ESL.
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 have as few distractions as possible, especially for those who work over the phone.
It's also important 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 definitely helps when dealing with callers who are complaining or who have problems.
Handling Customer Complaints
Customers will remember how responsive your people 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 he other. So verbal communication is more important than ever. This includes listening to the stress level that may be noticed in the tone of one's voice. Respond to this in a positive and friendly manner.
Have a policy in place to know how your company has chosen to deal with common 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. They waste the caller's time with promotional announcements that don't get right to the point.
This can frustrate callers who are usually in a rush to get connected to the right person. It can especially frustrate repeat callers who already know your company.
It's best to provide a simple, short, listing of options the caller can select, such as how to reach the most sort-after departments or personnel.
With the proper setup of your phone system and a businesslike manner of answering calls, your customers will notice the professionalism of your company.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Glenn Stok