Improving telephone etiquette
How often have you called a business and started to speak, only to be put on hold before you can utter a single word? How often have you sat waiting, holding the telephone while music played on and on? Or how about those phone transfers from department to department? You repeat yourself over and over until you get the right person, only to be disconnected. It is frustrating to say the very least and obviously not a successfully completed call.
The truth is, many employees and managers alike do not know how to answer the telephone correctly or effectively. The amount of money lost daily because of the way customers are treated on the phone is enormous. Aggravated, many customers get disgusted, hang up and then call the competition hoping for better results.
If your company values good customer relations, then you cannot afford to ignore telephone etiquette. Good telephone answering skills don’t just happen. These skills are acquired through effective training.
Use the following tips to improve on telephone etiquette:
- Try not to place anyone on hold. If you must put the caller on hold, check back with them. Don’t let the customer feel as though they have been forgotten. If you check back at least once every 30 seconds to see if they have been helped yet, they won’t feel ignored. If you find they haven’t been helped, find out why. Keep in mind that 30 seconds on hold seems like 30 minutes to most people.
- Personalize the call. Tell the customer your name and listen to the customer carefully. Don’t interrupt. You have a better chance of helping the customer if you actually listen to why they are calling. This information will enable you to efficiently handle the call or direct them to the right person. All too often, a customer gets cut off before they can say two words. Not only is this rude, but it is also counter-productive for both you and the customer.
- Use the customer’s name when it is available. If they have identified themselves, use your customer’s name. People are more receptive and feel like you are actually listening to them when you speak to them by name.
- Jot down what the customer wants. If you have to transfer the call to someone else you will be prepared to let that person know what the call is about if you mark it down. Saving your customer the aggravation and time of repeating themselves makes for a more relaxed customer.
- Smile when you answer the phone. Believe it or not, the smile is heard in your tone of voice. It is just about impossible to sound rude or irritated when you smile. And, in return, it is just about impossible for a customer to get upset when you sound so nice.
- Stay calm if the customer is angry. Don’t take anything they say personally. Keep your voice low, soft and soothing. Handle the complaint as quickly as possible.
- Be professional. It is really important to maintain a friendly yet professional attitude on the phone. Don’t call customers “honey” or “darling”. Don’t ask them to “hang on” when you put them on hold; rather ask them to “please hold the line”.