Because MOST of us handle business by telephone, displaying impeccable manners is crucial to landing sales and repeat business. Your voice represents your business. From the way we answer our phones, to the way we hang up, can leave a positive first impression reinforced with a positive ending impression.
Everything in between is relevant to the call as well, such as periods when you have to put a client on hold. Callers get annoyed when abruptly placed on hold without information, or if you are prepared to take the call. Other failing points include appearing unfriendly or hurrying to get the call over with. Here are some ways to work the telephone to your business advantage:
If a customer was standing before you at a counter, you would of course smile to greet the customer you are about to serve. Do the same by phone and your smile will come across the line. Try to answer the phone within three rings. One ring is the ultimate in customer service. Make sure you clearly identify your business name and your name as you answer. Answering “limousine services” is common in our industry but not proper. If you must place a caller on hold, always ask, “Would you mind if I put you on hold?” They may not have time. You always can take a name and number and call back. If you have to place a caller on hold, make it as brief as possible. Each person has opinions of what is considered too long of a hold. In some cases, it is better to return the call later than rush through a call, making the client think someone more important is on the other line.
Try to answer the phone within three rings. One ring is the ultimate in customer service. Make sure you clearly identify your business name and your name as you answer. Answering “limousine services” is common in our industry but not proper.
We all have to take messages for someone else on occasion. Being a good messenger is equally important to handling the call. Messages should include the caller’s name, the date/time of the call, and a brief description of the purpose of the call. Never assume the person you are taking a message for has the number of the caller. Put it on the message. Your colleagues will appreciate it and it’s handy for returning the call. Have a system for delivering messages. You can use email, a sticky post or the classic, “While you were out” pads that are available to copy online. Everyone should know where to leave messages and find them. Once a message is delivered, return the call promptly. Even if you don’t have all the information needed for the call, make a courtesy call to let them know you received the message and are working on the issue.
Just Good Manners
There are many basic common manners that must be exercised on the phone. Never chew food or smack gum. Do not talk with others around you. If you must do so, place the caller on hold, if only to point out the obvious to the offending party that you are on the telephone. Do not interrupt the party, even if you think you know what they are going to say. It comes off as rushing. Don’t call clients before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless it the matter is urgent. Always say some form of goodbye before gently hanging up the phone.
Basic Phone Etiquette Rules
- Smile when talking on the phone
- Identify yourself when answering a call
- Ask caller if okay to place on hold
- Take a message if the wait is too long
- Take good detailed messages for others
- Deliver messages in a timely and consistent manner
- Return calls promptly or delegate it
- Answer within three rings
- Don’t eat while on the phone
- Do not chat with those around you