Phone calls are the number one way of communicating within a business, and despite the rise in technological communication consumers want human interaction. In fact, two-thirds of consumers say that they prefer to use the phone while speaking to an insurance provider. A staggering 92 per cent of people acknowledged it was extremely or very important to speak with a real-life person when contacting their primary financial institution. Despite the pros, phone calls are not always easy to navigate. Dealing with employees, vendors, customers, and business associates… it all brings its own challenges and individual needs. How can you deal with business calls in the best way? What tools can you use to manage phone calls as a business? With a little help from the experts, you can create a professional phone call system to boost your business and support your sales. Let’s jump into a few useful suggestions!
Business Call Etiquette – The Dos and Don’ts
The etiquette involved in dealing with phone calls is often common sense but it’s good to have some useful reminders. The truth is that recent studies show that telephone communication is a dying art. With the emergence of communication that doesn’t involve face-to-face conversation, phone calls are getting more difficult for many people. With this in mind, let’s consider a few dos and don’ts:
- Answer the phone promptly. It’s good practice to answer an incoming phone call at least before the third ring.
- Use a cheerful and positive greeting. After a pleasant “Good Morning!” or “Hello!” give your name straight away and confirm the name of the business. This will give your caller reassurance straight away.
- Smile! It might not seem obvious but even though the other person can’t see your smile, the fact that you are smiling will positively affect the sound and tone of your voice. You will come across as pleasant and friendly by simply putting a smile on your face.
- Speak clearly. Speak at an appropriate speed and volume. Enunciate your words clearly and talk slow enough to be understood. When the customer understands what you are saying they are less likely to become frustrated and miscommunications are less likely to occur.
- Ask for permission, or offer the option of leaving a voicemail, before putting the speaker on hold. It shows politeness to give an explanation and ask if it’s okay to be put on hold. When you return to the call, it’s important to apologise for the delay and thank the caller for waiting. It shows respect to the caller and shows you appreciate their time.
- Listen carefully. Avoid interrupting when others are talking and remain quiet to show you are listening. You can even repeat key points back to the caller to show you are listening and ensure you understand what they are saying.
- Identify yourself. When it’s time to make an outgoing call, be clear about the purpose of your call and give your name to the answerer before you ask for the person you need to talk to.
- Keep promises and return calls. If you have said you will call someone back, keep your word and call them back as soon as possible within the time frame you gave them.
- Deal with transfers respectfully. If you need to transfer a call, make the caller aware that you are going to do so and explain the need for it too. Ensure too that the person you are transferring to is available and knows the identity of the original caller.
With all those positives to keep in mind, let’s have a look at a few habits to avoid too:
- Answer on the first ring. Don’t be too eager as answering too quickly will take the caller off guard and put them on edge. Wait until the second or third ring for the perfect window of phone answering opportunity.
- Answer when your mouth is otherwise occupied! If you’re eating, chewing, or drinking, don’t answer the phone. It’s very distracting and rude to the caller.
- Leave the line open if you need to leave the phone. Put the person on hold, don’t just let them listen to the background noise of the office. When you put someone on hold for a long period of time, check back as often as you can.
- Say that you don’t know something. If you don’t know the answer to something, rather than give the impression of incompetence just say that you will check and get back to them.
- Say something that can be taken rudely. The ”Golden Rule” is a good thing to apply when talking to someone on the phone. Talk to them as you would like someone to talk to you if you were in the same situation.
- Use slang. Slang words give a very unprofessional impression. Curse words are also not professional at all and may even be illegal in some circumstances. Keep your language formal and professional.
- Argue. You may feel justified or feel like you want to explain yourself, but don’t get into an argument with a customer. That is never acceptable under any circumstances.
- Transfer a caller without letting them know. Keep a caller updated as to whom they’re going to be transferred to or how long they may have to wait on hold. When they are dignified with such information, they will feel a lot more positive about the interaction.
- Hang up without a positive final note. Use a positive phrase like “Thank you for calling” or something similar to end the conversation on a constructive note.
Business Call Tools
Besides good manners and etiquette, there are tools that you can use to help you deal with business calls. Systems such as call forwarding sprint and other companies provide allow you the flexibility to deal with incoming calls in a professional way or pass them on to someone else who is available.