Even in today’s digital age, the phone is still your businesses most valuable communication tool. It is the highly-personal way that you will connect with your customers, suppliers, and employees. Sure texts and emails are convenient and quick, but they do not carry the emotional connection nor clarity boosting power that voice telephone calls can.
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How you handle your phone manners can make or break your new business. It can be the difference between creating lifelong customer relationships or losing a big order.
These telephone tips are for both you, the business owner, couldn’t we all use a brush up on phone etiquette and your employees. It is especially to train and monitor your younger employees who do not have as much business phone experience.
Excellent customer service begins when you pick up the ringing telephone in your office.
Don’t Assume – Train Everyone
Just because someone can physically lift up the phone receiver does not mean they can really “answer the phone.” They may lack the tact and training to make a good first impression on your caller.
Once one of my factory employees, who was not authorized, nor trained, to answer the phone, did so because she wanted to “help out.” Yikes! She promptly told the caller I was in the bathroom! Luckily it was my friendly banker, and we got a good laugh, but it could have just as easily been a significant customer or the press. I sure learned my lesson about phone rules that day.
Answer the Same Every Time
Make sure everyone answers the phone line the same way. Decide how you want to answer and write a telephone script. Do you want to use your company name, sales slogan and person’s first name?
Hello, Five Star Marketing, Jane speaking. How can I help market your business today?
Listen First – Speak Later
Take time to listen to the caller explain the full reason for their call. Don’t be too quick to talk, nor dismiss them as a telemarketer. Once you understand their need, you will be able to help fulfill their request. Your customers will appreciate the extra consideration and feel that you care.
The Hold Button is Your Friend
Start with the obvious, do you and your team know how to use all the features of your phone system? You would be surprised how often this is not the case!
Have your office manager or the receptionist train all the people who will answer the phone on how the system works on hold, forwarding and call back. Make liberal use of the hold button. Don’t think that because you whisper to hold the phone to your chest that your caller cannot hear you. They can.
Know How to Use the Transfer Call Button
Call center experts estimate that over 50% of all transferred calls get dropped because the operator does not use the function correctly. Couple that abrupt transfer conversations and you can see why call transfer is every caller’s nightmare. Instead, practice using the transfer button by having team members call from outside the office. Also have a carefully crafted phone script for transferring calls such as, “The best person to help you with this question is Bob Jones, can I transfer your call to him?” Wait until the caller agrees then proceed.
Callers can Hear You Smile
A funny, but beneficial practice is to smile while you are on the phone. Studies had proven that telephone callers could tell if the person was “friendly” when the operator wore a smile. Also, you as the call receiver will tend to be politer because your smile tells your brain that this is a social interaction.