As a provider of small business telephone and connectivity solutions, it probably will not come as a surprise that we really value good phone manners.
The difference between a terrible customer service experience and one that you makes you smile and want to recommend the company can often come down to a simple phone conversation.
So what are the simple and easy ways that you can improve your everyday telephone etiquette and win more business and repeat customers for your business?
First Things First
We have all known how to dial a phone and talk on one since we were young children. But that can sometimes mean that businesses don’t properly prepare their employees about how to answer the phone.
For calls from unknown numbers, a friendly greeting, followed by the company name and your own name is a tried and tested method that gives your caller an instant good impression. The phrase “Thanks for calling ABC Co, this is Emma, how can I help you today” or some variation of it, is a simple way to start.
Many people are so comfortable with speaking on the phone that they take their conversational skills to phone conversations. But little variations like calls from a mobile phone or a lot of ambient noise mean that it’s harder to hear and understand conversational tones.
Make a conscious effort to slow down a little and really say each word, your callers will thank you for it!
Know Your Limits
Possibly the biggest failing of the humble phone is that the caller has no idea what is happening on the other side of the receiver. If a phone call comes in when it is particularly chaotic or there is a customer in front of you, make sure you prioritise.
Callers will not thank you for seeming distracted and disengaged, while a person in front of you will rightly be upset if a phone call is prioritised over a face to face interaction. Set up a professional voicemail with an achievable call back target such as “we’ll get back to you within the hour/day” and make sure you follow up on that promise.
When making calls, it’s generally good practice to call within business hours. As Queenslanders, remember that we are the only Eastern state without daylight savings in the summer months, so be sure to adjust for this, especially if you are calling a mobile number!
Take the time to ask whether it is a convenient time to talk for your caller, you never know where they are or what they’re doing, and offer to call back at a more convenient time if they request it. Again, this gives you the chance to show your client that you follow through on your commitments.
There are very few things that businesses can do that cost nothing but improve sales and customer satisfaction. However, improving your phone manner and etiquette as a small business can do both of these things, and is well worth the small amount of time it takes to adapt!