7 tips for great telephone etiquette

Whether your business is in the retail industry, a restaurant or in the service sector, telephone etiquette is an essential part of any customer service skillset. How you and your team communicates to customers and callers over the phone can greatly impact how others view your company and its professionalism.

Thus, it’s critical to train staff on how to correctly handle phone calls. There are several ways to achieve proper telephone etiquette, too. Here is a guide of the top seven best telephone etiquette practices you can apply today:

1. Answer right away

When the phone rings for your business, it’s important to answer the call as soon as possible. Missed calls can mean missed opportunities for your small business. Always be close to the phone, and if you’re currently occupied with another customer, just politely ask the original customer if you can take a quick moment.  

Then answer the phone so you can direct the call to someone that can help.

2. Know who to transfer the call to

There is nothing more frustrating for customers to not only get the wrong person over the phone but also to be connected to the wrong department. That’s why it’s crucial to know who to reach to ensure that you’re connecting your customers to the right people the first time around. 

Also, stay on the line with the customer if you can. Introduce the caller and explain her issue to the next person who will take over the call. This helps the caller to avoid repeating the same information.

3. Practice makes perfect

It doesn’t hurt to practice your greeting before you actually have to answer calls to your business over the phone. You can use phone scripts so that everyone can practice the greeting. Phone scripts also help provide a consistent message and help as a quick reference.

Another form of practice is to once every quarter set up a practice session where you will role play with another person on how to correctly handle a phone call from start to finish. 

This method is also great when a new update has been added to the system and the phone operator might need time to navigate the new user interface to further help the customer in a timely manner.

During this training or rehearse it’s important you also practice the tone of the voice you are using. A good tip is to record yourself and play it back and see if you like the tone you are using and ask another person if they feel the same way.

A gentle tone can go a long way and make the customer on the other end feel happy they have called whereas an angry tone might make the customer not feel good or worse might make their tone switch to match.

4. Politely ask for permission to place a caller on hold

Placing a caller on hold without asking can come off impolite and offensive. Thus, it’s key to always ask for permission before placing any caller on hold. Also, ensure you give a realistic timeframe of when you expect to return to the call. If possible, use pleasant hold music so that callers to your business aren’t listening to dead air.

5. Offer a one-call resolution

Before ending the conversation, ask if there is anything else you can help the caller with. You want to ask this question to ensure that you’re helping the caller in one call, instead of having them call repeatedly to get an issue resolved. 

For example, some customers will call multiple times due to the fact they believe they might need to talk to another person to have another question answered for clarity.

When you offer further assistance, you help the customer understand you are there to help with any questions or issue in one call resolution.

6. Provide your undivided attention

An important thing to practice is to ensure while on the phone you are focused on the customer and not focused on interrupting the caller. Avoid over talking the caller, and don’t allow sidebar discussions to take place with other people at work. 

When you don’t provide callers with your undivided attention, it can make them feel as if their concern is not important or that you are not taking them seriously.

Instead, provide them with your complete attention. If you need to interject, do it when it is appropriate, such as during a time of dead air or after the caller has fully verbalized what he is trying to say.

7. End the call properly

Although you might have answered the question the caller had ask you, it is ever important at the end to make sure if there is anything else you can assist them with. By ending your call in that manner it will further show you are more than willing to ensure they will have all their questions or concerned answered.

Final thoughts

It’s important to keep a great tone when talking on the phone to make the customer feel welcome and ensure you are there to help them as best as you can. By following this guide and taking these great tips you should see great response from your consumers.

Make sure your tone is gentle and not too loud and treat the conversation you are having the same way you would want someone to treat you if you called their place of business.

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