In our daily life of scheduled zoom calls, slack messages, email, text, and chatbots, phone calls seem like a thing of the past. However, voice-to-voice communication is still a vital part of business and customer service. We may all feel a little out of practice. Approximately 30% of the workforce was born after caller ID (or don’t remember the days prior to caller ID and cell phones), we can all benefit from a brush-up on business phone etiquette.
Business Phone Basics
We live in the land of caller ID, so knowing who is calling, most people have become more casual when they answer. But when you answer the phone, identify your company and your name. You want your caller to know that they called the right place and know who they are talking to. By identifying yourself, they can also know if they reached the person they were looking for.
There is no body language when on the phone, so speaking while smiling is the best way to convey a warm and welcoming tone. A good practice is to smile before you pick up the phone to make sure you start the conversation on the right footing. It also allows you to take a break so the stress of the day doesn’t come through in your voice.
Speak clearly and calmly
We all know how frustrating it is to try to listen to someone that is speaking too fast, mumbling, or frustrated. And since you can’t see the person on the other end, you miss all of the other social cues that may help you understand what this person is trying to communicate to you.
Use speakerphone sparingly
The rest of your office doesn’t want to hear your conversation, nor does the person calling want to be broadcasted. Also, be aware of the noise level of your surroundings. Speakerphone picks up background noise, and it is difficult to focus on a conversation if the caller hears everything from your office copy machine or the leaf blower outside.
Answer after the first few rings
Imagine you walk into a coffee shop, go up to the counter, and the barista looks at you but waits a few minutes before greeting you. That would seem like rude customer service. Conversely, imagine that the barista asked you for your order before you finished walking through the door. That would probably catch you off guard. Answering the phone is similar. Don’t answer it immediately but don’t let it ring too long.
Customer Service Tips
While you’re on the phone, you may have the best of intentions to remember who called and what they needed. But after you hang up the phone, you may get a slack alert, have to refill your coffee, or get another call. Taking notes ensures that you remember exactly why the person called and what you need to do to follow up.
Know how to use the hold and transfer buttons…
In order to provide good customer service, you should know how to physically use the phone. That means knowing how to put someone on hold and how to transfer them to the person that can assist them, if it’s not you. Just putting the phone down on your desk allows them to hear the noise of your office, and can seem rude. And if you are not the person that can help them, you don’t want to further frustrate the caller by not getting them to the person they need efficiently.
But don’t overuse them
Once you know how to use the buttons, you need to use them correctly. First, never put someone on hold or transfer them without their approval. Ask if it’s okay before doing either. Don’t put someone on hold for a long time. If it is taking a while to get back to them, come back to them to let them know what you are doing to help them. This gives them confidence that their issue is being addressed and reassures them that you have not forgotten about them. If you are transferring them to another person or department, make sure you send them to the right destination. No one likes to be sent around to multiple people that can’t help them.
Hopefully, this business phone refresher is helpful for you and your team. If you want to ensure that your phone system is the best it can be contact us for a free needs assessment. FSA Consulting can customize a contract-free Business Phone System for a seamless, reliable connection for your team and customers.