9 tips for great telephone etiquette

Whether your business is in the retail industry, a restaurant or in the service sector, phone 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 tips you can apply today:

1. Answer the phone 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.  

2. Smile

It might not make sense at first glance, considering the person on the other end of the phone can’t see your facial expressions or body language, but smiling automatically adjusts the tone of your voice and allows you to make a good first impression. A simple “good morning” in the right tone of voice can leave a positive impression and set you on the right course to provide an excellent customer experience. 

3. Introduce yourself

Whether it’s business calls or personal calls coming through your company’s phone lines, proper phone etiquette dictates that you should introduce yourself to give the person on the other end of the line an idea of who they are talking to. Depending on the nature of your business you can introduce yourself by name, role, department or similar and make sure to state the company name to ensure your caller has not dialed the wrong phone number. 

4. 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.

5. Practice makes perfect

It doesn’t hurt to practice your communication skills 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 rehearsal 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.

6. 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. Once you are ready to talk to the customer again, make sure to apologize for the wait time before moving on.

7. 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.

8. Provide your undivided attention

An important thing to practice are listening skills to ensure you are focused on the customer and not interrupting. Avoid talking over 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 full 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.

9. End the call properly

Although you might have answered the question the caller had asked you, it is always 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 concerns answered.

Final thoughts

It’s important to keep a great tone of voice 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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