Why Telephone Etiquette is So Important

Whether you’re a high-power executive who has regular phone conferences with crucially important business clients, or just taking delivery orders at the local pizza place, there’s one skill that’s essential and determines whether or not your new customers will come back or go elsewhere next time – telephone etiquette.

A telephone call is often the first point of contact between a customer and a business, as well as being an integral part of each day for most companies. Because of this, whoever is answering the phones can be considered the ‘face’ of the brandname, and this role should not be taken lightly. If your business obtains the majority of its leads via phone – or if you yourself work in a position that involves a lot of phone time – it is almost always worth having your employees (or yourself, if you’re in a role that involves answering phones) complete a phone etiquette course. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you be the best representative of your business over the telephone line:

Be prepared – Just like the Boy Scouts motto suggests, you should always be prepared. In a phone call situation this may mean you give yourself some time at the beginning of your work day to get ‘in the zone’ for taking or making phone calls. It might also mean that you spend a few seconds before making or answering a call to take a deep breath, clear your throat and relax your shoulders, so you sound calm and relaxed when you speak. If you do the later, just be sure you’re not leaving the caller waiting too long, of course. Picking up before about the third or fourth ring is usually fine, but waiting longer than this should be avoided.

You should have water, pen and paper or computer and anything else you need at your fingertips, so you don’t need to put the customer on hold unless you really need to. If you do put the customer on hold, don’t leave them for any longer than two minutes. If you feel you’ll take longer than that, offer to call them back instead.

Know what to say – similar to the above, you should prepare a greeting, so that the customers’ first interaction is consistent and predictable. A good rule of thumb is to say “Hi, you’ve reached Example Industries, you’re speaking with John Doe” (of course, using your own business name and personal name instead of Example Industries and John Doe).

You should also be extremely knowledgeable about the product or service you’re selling, so that you don’t sound inexperienced or have to consult with a boss or colleague. It’s advisable not to read from a script, because this will make you sound, well, scripted! You can however learn a flexible spiel, so that your phone interactions are consistent and informative. Also, don’t forget to write down the name of the person you’re speaking to as soon as you learn it (and ask politely for their name, if they do not offer it), so that you’re not flailing if you forget it.

Act like you’re talking face to face – Your voice says more about you than you may realize, so be sure to smile as you speak, as this will positively change your tone of voice and your customer will know you’re smiling. Ensure you’re using good communication skills – speaking pleasantly, then listening intently to what the customer is saying in their reply to you. Obviously, remain pleasant and friendly, even if your customer is being difficult or is angry, as kindness has a way of diffusing people who are upset. Also, don’t eat while you’re speaking!

By using these easy to implement tips every time you take or make a call, you’ll gradually increase your communication skills so that good phone etiquette becomes a natural habit to you. Ensuring that your calls are made a priority, you’ll be drawing in new customers with every call!

The CFS Team
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