So many of our conversations happen through email that you may find yourself wondering how to conduct yourself while on a professional phone call. Telephone etiquette can be tricky sometimes. When you’re making a personal phone call you can be a bit more relaxed, but during a business call, there are a few standards that you must adhere to. These following tips will be important to remember the next time you’re on an important call.
1. Answer Quickly
But not too quickly. Answering a phone call on the first ring may surprise your caller and they’ll be caught off guard. It is best to wait until the second or third ring so that your caller may experience the familiar ring first and prepare them for your answer. If a caller waits too long to be answered they may feel frustrated or simply hang up before you have a chance to answer. This is not good in a business setting, you do not want to lose a customer or get a bad reputation for your customer service.
2. Greet with A Friendly Tone
Smiling while you’re on a call is an old trick that truly conveys a friendly tone through the phone. People can tell by your voice if you’re smiling or not. Speaking with a wide grin is also a mental maneuver that tricks your brain into believing that you are happy. Starting a call with a positive attitude encourages the same from the caller on the other line. If someone is distraught about their product and in need of help, your positivity will help ease their feelings because they will know by your tone of voice that you are eager to help them out. It is very helpful to rehearse a greeting, too. This greeting does not have to be overly complicated; something as simple as “Hello, you’ve reached (name of company) my name is ___, how can I help you today?”
3. Use The Hold Button
If you’re going to step away from a phone call make sure you and your employees know how to use the hold button. For example, If you work at a doctor’s office and need to put someone on hold while you speak to another customer, the person on hold does not need to hear you speaking with a patient, nor do they need to hear your co-workers gossiping in the background. Before you put someone on hold ask them for their permission. Instead of saying “I’m going to put you on hold now” or nothing at all, say “Would it be alright if I put you on hold for a moment?” Then wait until they answer. It is highly unlikely that they will say no, and if they do simply explain the reason that you need to put them on hold. Make sure that you do not leave someone on hold for a long time. If they are waiting to speak to someone in particular who is not available, it is important to inform them that they will be waiting for a certain period of time. If they do not seem pleased by this idea encourage them to call back at a time when that person will be available, or offer to relay a message.
4. Be Patient and Helpful
If a client is calling your company, more than likely there is an issue. In order to avoid an altercation, it is important to be patient and listen to the issues completely. If you are unable to help them, you should transfer them to the correct department that can. Listening intently to what their needs are first will also help you to find out the best way to assist them. If you are unsure of what they need, ask them to elaborate.
It might annoy them a little that you did not understand at first, but it will be a lot better in the long run if you don’t transfer them to sales when they needed customer service. When you transfer a phone call, be sure that there is someone in that department available to take the call. Stay on the phone with them until someone answers and then you can introduce the caller to this new department.
5. Forward Your Phone To Voicemail
If you are out of your office, send all incoming phone calls immediately to your voicemail so that the caller knows that you are unavailable. Forcing a caller to sit through 20 rings before realizing that you’re not going to answer is impolite and leaves the caller with a negative feeling. Your voicemail should state who you are and when you will be back. An instant and informative voicemail saves the caller time and allows them the option of leaving a message or calling back at a more convenient time.
6. End The Call Politely
It is preferable for both parties to end the call on a “high note.” If there is something that needs your attention right away, offer to call the person back and let them know you will finish the conversation after you have dealt with this urgent matter. When the conversation has come to a natural end, ask them if there is anything else you can do for them. After they answer with a no, thank them for their call. An example of a good way to end a phone call is, “Thank you so much for calling (company) today, I hope you enjoy your weekend.” or “It was a pleasure speaking with you, I’m glad that we could help you out today. Have a wonderful rest of your day.” Do not rush them off the phone, and wait until the customer has hung up before you hang up.
7. Making a Call
Having a professional manner while making a phone call is just as important as receiving one. Be sure to introduce yourself and the reason for your call right away. Leaving a voicemail is similar to making a call. First Introduce yourself, then explain the reason for your call. When leaving a voicemail, however, you must also include contact details such as a phone number to reach and if it is needed, a time frame for them to call you back. Be sure to keep your message short and to the point. Provide them with all necessary details at the beginning of the call. Keep in mind, most people do not have the attention spans to listen to long-winded voicemails.