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Simple, Common-Sense Telephone Manners
Our telephone presence is one of the most important parts of our business image. Assessing our telephone “appearance” can be helpful in improving the impression with customers, and good for business too.
Basic telephone manners are for the most part “no-brainers”, but it never hurts to give our phone etiquette a quick “polish” now and then. The following are some guidelines to help you put your best customer service foot forward when using the phone:
#When you are calling someone, always ask “am I catching you at a bad time?” By expressing respect for their time, you show consideration, and proof you are a true professional.
#Never call a customer or potential customer on their toll free line (unless you are invited to do so). Toll free numbers are for their customers, not you!
#Smile! A smile will show through in your voice make you a more pleasant person to talk to.
#Avoid slang such as “oakey doakey” or “bye-bye”. Unless you know the customer very well (or work at a daycare) baby talk is never a professional choice to make.
#As with baby talk, the same rule applies with non-words like “um” and “ah.” News anchor Don Shelby from Fox 9 News has an excellent statement about monitoring the “ahs” and “ums” in our conversations; “Silence is more intelligent that the word ‘um'”…..
#Slow it down! Talking as fast as an auctioneer makes you hard to understand and is annoying as well. Keep the conversation flowing at a natural, relaxed pace so you don’t make the person on the other end of the line feel anxious or rushed.
#Be prepared. Today’s workplace is more rushed and harried than ever. Don’t waste your client’s time by hemming and hawing or scrambling for information. Have a briefly outline of the task at hand before you even place the call.
#Keep personal problems just that; personal and to yourself. Dumping, complaining, or whining crosses a line with your customers and changes your relationship with them forever…. and not in a good way either.
#If you do need to leave a message, speak slowly, enunciate your name, and repeat your name and number again after you state the reason for your call. Someone left me a message one time where the caller spoke so fast, that even after replaying it 4 times, I had no idea of her name and number. I gave up and moved on. Opportunity lost.
#This one may be subject to debate, but I believe in addressing people by their first names. If someone calls me and addresses me as “Mrs. Flansburg” I am instantly on guard, even a little suspicious. Using first names break down barriers and puts people at ease. However, there some instances where I would NOT advise using first name unless invited to do so. When addressing heads of major corporations, authority figures, and even civic leaders, use your own judgment and err on the side of caution.
#The dreaded “on hold” button. Be aware that the longest to leave someone on hold is 15-17 seconds. If your customer is busy and or irate, those seconds are going to seem like an eternity. If what you are checking on is longer than your think, take their name and number and call them back instead leaving them stewing on hold.
Understanding the importance of good telephone etiquette is a must for business professionals. By being respectful and considerate of the people we call, we can strengthen our own credibility and help ensure a more secure future.
Becky Flansburg is author and creator of Mom Squad Marketing and owner of LAMS Communications. Becky is a blogger, writer, virtual assistant, and social media junkie. The main goal of Mom Squad Marketing is to shine the spotlight on local moms/women in business and provide info, tips, and ideas to make women entrepreneur’s lives EASIER. You can reach Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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