Communication in the corporate world has been diversified along with the technology advancement. With so much attention being placed on online communication, whether it’s via email and social media, it seems that conversing with your actual voice is a lost art. However, answering the telephone and phone etiquette are still a big part of the experience for many businesses as your corporate image was formed by how well that call is handled by the person who answers it.
Why Phone Etiquette is Important
Talking with a stakeholder on the phone can be a difficult task compared to talking to people online and in person. During online communication such as email, webchat, or Whatsapp messaging, you would have the time to really devise a great answer and think about what you are going to speak about before you press “enter”. When you are talking to someone face-to-face, you can use facial expressions and body language to convey your message. But when you are talking on the phone, it’s all about your voice and the way you speak to them directly. Without seeing an individual’s face, messages can become muddled and meanings misinterpreted. That’s why being aware of the basic rules of phone etiquette is so important.
Answer the Phone as Quickly as Possible and Introduce Yourself
Most people who call you will hang up if the phone doesn’t get answered after five or six rings. It’s a fast-paced world, and people simply don’t want to wait for any type of service these days —especially not on the telephone. If it takes you forever to answer the phone, the customer’s first impression is that you’re either lazy, have no manners, or that you simply don’t care. And that’s a huge no-no when it comes to phone etiquette. They might also think that your business is understaffed or disorganized. Therefore, you should pick up the phone before three or four rings.
Upon picking up the phone, you should confirm with the person whom they have called. In personal calls, it’s sufficient to begin with a “Hello?” but in the corporate context, you are expected to introduce yourself. Start with your greeting, company name and your name such as “Good Morning! Aventis Learning Group. This is Andy”. The caller will be met with warmth, which will encourage a positive start to your call and allow the caller to know whom they are speaking with.
Listen Actively, Use Their Name and Take Notes
People enjoy hearing their name, so using it helps set a positive tone for the call. Using the caller’s name and saying it correctly is an efficient way of letting them know that you intend to assist. Listen actively on the purpose of their call and jot down the main points of the conversation. Staying active during the call helps you not drift away (which sometimes we all did). If you get distracted for even a few seconds you might not hear a customer’s question or comment. It will sound unprofessional if you ask a customer to repeat his question. Keep yourself into the call and actively listen and answer to what the customer says. While you are being plagued by numerous tasks at work, taking notes help to remind you on the content of the phone conversation and the follow up action required.
Speak Clearly and Be Sensitive to the Tone of Your Voice
When you are speaking on the phone, your voice is the only thing that connects you to your caller and the tone of your voice tells them about your approach and intention. Make sure you sound confident as the customers want to feel like they are talking to the appropriate person who’s knowledgeable and who can answer all of their questions. A good practice is to sit up in the chair or stand up if you’re more comfortable talking on a phone this way. Do not lean back in your chair as it will automatically change the way you talk (it sure does!). You’ll get too relaxed and instead of sounding like a professional you’ll sound like a random person, friend or worse, someone who doesn’t care. In addition, avoid using speakerphone as your voice projection will sound fuzzy and frustrate the caller as they are trying to hear your voice. However, you may use speakerphone only when it is a conference call.
Don’t Panic if You Are Dealing with Demanding Customers
Sometimes you may pick up the phone of a demanding customers. It’s important to use the correct phone etiquette in these types of cases to produce the most effective outcome for both the customer and the company.
You need to speak slowly, remain calm and show willingness to resolve their problem or conflict. Be firm with your answers, but at the same time show your understanding and empathy. It is OK if you can’t resolve their problem immediately and admit to it. It is better than giving a half past six solution or answers as it will aggravate the situation. Let the customer know that you would like to look into the issue further and would like to follow up via their preferred contact method (and really did a follow up to close the case).
Even in the digital world, phone calls should not be taken lightly. When a customer calls you, there is a good chance that this is their first contact with your company. You need to make a good first impression and create a positive and lasting relationship with the caller.
Having good phone etiquette is a great starting point for providing a great customer experience. This initial contact could mean a lot when it comes to getting a picture of your business and what it stands for. Great phone manners make people feel better about doing business with you.