Emails, chatbots, text messages, and responses to comments on social media are now all part of customer service. However, nothing can replace a phone call when it comes to resolving real customer or client issues. Now, this is all well and good but do your employees know the dos and don’ts of professional phone etiquette?
Phone communication should needs to be on-brand. If your employees are working in an indie record store or the top office of a law firm – people are expecting a certain experience when they call. Your staff will need to be trained in order to make sure there are no lapses here.
Below we have outlined:
- The Do’s
- The Don’ts
- Tips for Improvement
It is part of your responsibility to ensure phone training for your staff is thorough and has an emphasis on getting it right for your customers.
1. Be Clear
Once you pick up the phone, you need to state your name clearly. We have all had the experience of calling a company to get the following:
The speed at which the introduction is made makes a huge difference to the listener. Speak clearly and leave a reasonable amount of space between each word.
When people call your company, they have a reason, so a simple introduction given at a reasonable speed is going to be ideal.
“Hello, thank you for calling (X company) my name is Sandra – how can I help you today?”
Sure, saying it 900 times a day can get tedious, but having to repeat it on the same call more than once means your staff hasn’t done their job.
Your staff will also likely have to end up leaving voicemails from time to time. Voicemails should be left in the same way, clearly, and make sure that they say the number where the call can be returned twice!
2. All About Them
Unsurprisingly, the calls your company receives rarely have anything to do with your employees directly.
These calls are all about the business and the caller. Your customer service team are like little bridges solidifying the relationship between customer and company.
The key is, you need to know how your customers like to be addressed.
In your files, you will likely have their full name, and prefix in your records.
Early on in the phone call, you can ask what they would prefer to be called. You can address them correctly for the rest of the call. FYI: this includes gender pronouns.
There is listening, then there is active listening – only one of them will help get to the crux of the issue. Active listening isn’t a skill that people naturally have.
Our instincts tell us to instantly jump in and help someone as soon as we think we know what the problem is. But when you actively listen, you tune in to what they are saying in a more connected way.
With active listening, you can catch the tone, the issue, and be able to better judge what the ideal outcome is for the customer.
When all of the information has been given, it should be repeated back to ensure that it is correct. There will be little if any, miscommunication with this technique.
Active listening is something that you should have engrained into your employees and benefits everyone in the long run.
4. Smile Through the Phone
And have a cheery disposition. If someone answers the phone and sounds sad or aggressive, they are likely to find the same tone reflected by the caller.
Tone of voice leads the conversation from the moment someone starts talking. As a business owner, you need to train your staff on how to keep a consistent tone throughout the entire call.
In some cases, callers get aggressive and even occasionally abusive, learning how to maintain a cool head and a steady tone can often diffuse the situation quickly.
It is also important to let your employees know that if someone is being extremely rude or using abusive on the phone, that they can escalate the call to upper management or simply tell the caller that they will call them back at a better time and hang up.
If you notice your staff is communicating at a high volume, you may want to tell them to lower their voice when taking calls.
If someone calls your business with a question or problem, they don’t want to hear a voice that is borderline yelling at them. It can come off as aggressive and is jarring.
On the other hand, talking too softly can cause customers to get frustrated because they can’t hear what the other person is saying.
We do know that some people are naturally loud, and others quiet. So this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Make sure that you work on having your staff maintain a clear and consistent volume.
The best way to do this is to have them train with someone who is able to maintain the right amount of volume on the phone
This one isn’t directly related to talking on the phone, but what to do with your phone in meetings.
If you and your team are often in the offices of other businesses, make sure the standard protocol is to have their phones on silent and tucked away for the duration of the meetings.
Now, if you are in the digital industry and phones are needed to present things to clients or do some quick math, that is acceptable but make sure the phones are still on silent and laid face down on the table when not in use.
You want to display that the people you are meeting are worth your time and full attention – so give it to them.
7. Encourage Note Taking
There is often a lot of information given really quickly to people who are taking calls.
Make sure that your crew taking calls always has access to a notebook and a pen at all times. They may need to write down essential information to pass along, and possibly go back over it with the caller before hanging up.
This one seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people are still scrambling for a pen and paper when a call comes in.
You can also take advantage of call recording technology. A lot of phone companies offer opportunities to choose additional features like call recording in custom VoIP packages. Call recording is super handy and you can ensure that you won’t miss a single detail of a customer or client call ever again.
Note: If you do opt to have call recording, you need to let customers and clients know that they are being recorded before jumping into the conversation.
Your staff member will probably need to put a caller through to a different department at one point or another and put the caller on a brief hold.
If this is going to happen, rather than just saying something like “Hold please,” make sure your staff is always asking for permission to put the person on hold.
This allows the person calling to feel that they are in full control and that they aren’t being told what to do. Placing people on hold without an explanation, or without permission can often display the wrong attitude – even if unintentional.
Not everyone who calls will have an easy to deal with situation, and your staff won’t always have the answers.
In this case, you should encourage your team to be honest. This gives them the space to try and find a way to resolve the issue, find the right department, or call in help.
It should be noted that many callers expect staff to know everything (and assume they are in the right place), so this should be handled with care.
Transparency is key. Have them show that they are working with the caller – this goes a long way towards finding a resolution without anyone getting aggressive.
There is almost no situation, other than a conference call, that people need to be on speakerphone.
The quality of the call becomes lower, there can be echoes on the line, and the caller might feel like they are exposed. The privacy of the call is lost.
Unless it is absolutely to have someone on speaker, don’t do it.
2. Chewing Gum and Eating
Although having fresh breath is nice, chewing gum or sucking on mints while on a call is a firm no.
In addition to that, if the call is professional, slurping a drink or eating lunch when on a call.
Make sure that you are providing your staff with reasonable comfort breaks so that they aren’t trying to eat falafel and talk to a customer about broadband issues. It just doesn’t look or sound good.
Doing this is really unprofessional, and a sure sign to the customer that there are more important things than their phone call.
While keeping a sunny disposition is useful, and laughing at appropriate jokes in fine, there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
Using profanity or slang will paint your business in a terrible light, and it could easily lose you valuable customers. Callers are often trying to resolve an issue and will want it handled in a professional manner.
Now, if the customer makes a joke, it is totally fine to chuckle but your staff needs to remember that they are there to get a job done.
4. Hold On!
Most people don’t mind being put on hold for a minute or two, but there is a point where it will begin to aggravate them. Nine times out of ten placing someone on hold should not be required, but that isn’t always avoidable and varies based on industry.
When you do put someone on hold, ensure that you are going back to them at regular intervals to make sure that they know you are still working on their issue.
Just like in-person, people can tell if you aren’t paying attention on the phone.
If they are asked to repeat themselves often or hear chatting, it can be an upsetting experience for the caller.
Office noise and other things going on in the background can be a distraction, but the caller should get all of the attention.
How to Improve
Excellent customer service and phone etiquette will lean heavily onto how you want to be seen. Your brand reputation hinges on first impressions and experience.
If you don’t have the time to teach your staff how to manage calls better, then you can hire in a specialist, or outsource your customer service team completely.
Proper etiquette is a must, but if you want to bring your staff to a whole new level, the following tips are the icing on any cake.
When you first bring on someone to take calls, they may feel apprehensive and nervous but over time, they will start to relax into the position. In those first days, they may have some bad calls and that is okay, continue to help them improve!
You should also provide a wide range of recorded conversations for training purposes and pair new hires up with your customer service masters!
When you take part in a conversation with a chatbot, you are likely to have some sort of moment where they ask if there is anything else they can do. And, you will likely get a survey to click and say how satisfied you were.
Well, when your team is in charge of the calls, you ideally want to round off any conversation (even a stressful one) in a similar way:
Can I assist you with anything else today?
Yes – work through the next issue No – Thank them for their time and tell them to have a great day.
It is that simple.
Finally, it is often the case that people’s very first dealings with your company will be with your team who mans the phones and the experience has to be a great one. It is more likely than ever that people will leave an online review talking about the service they received.
You may have a rockstar team of people who already know how to handle calls with ease but this does not matter if calls are being dropped and the sound quality is bad. In this case, you may need a new phone system and we can help with that! Click below to learn more about our business phone solutions or contact the team at Lingo by calling 888-202-0056 and find out which phone system is right for your business!
What are the do's and don'ts when answering the phone? ›
- DO – Smile when you talk to people. ...
- DON'T – Be distracted. ...
- DO – When you answer the phone, greet the caller warmly and advise who they are talking to. ...
- DON'T – Shout or whisper. ...
- DO – Speak clearly. ...
- DON'T – Leave the caller on hold for too long. ...
- DO – Make the caller feel welcome.
Try to answer the phone within three rings. Answering a phone too fast can catch the caller off guard and waiting too long can make the caller angry. Answer with a friendly greeting. (Example - "Good Afternoon, Lehigh University, Telecommunications, Lizanne speaking, how may I help you?").
Staying patient, providing correct information, and sounding happy will really improve your phone skills. While the person on the phone may not be able to see you, if you smile, it will be conveyed in the tone of your voice and you will come across as pleasant and professional.What are the 5 P's of telephone etiquette? ›
Always keep in mind that effective business telephone etiquette requires you to be: prepared, present, polite, patient, personable, professional, proactive.What is the most polite way of saying I called you but you didn't answer? ›
Thanks! "I tried calling you but there was no answer" is a hair more polite, since it doesn't "accuse" "you" of not answering.What are the 8 basic techniques in answering telephone calls? ›
- Answer the call within three rings.
- Immediately introduce yourself.
- Speak clearly.
- Only use speakerphone when necessary.
- Actively listen and take notes.
- Use proper language.
- Remain cheerful.
- Ask before putting someone on hold or transferring a call.
- Be a name caller. No, we're not asking you to revert to your childhood ways and tease the people you speak to on the phone. ...
- Be mindful of volume. Speaking too loudly or speaking too softly will only prove to be a distraction during your calls. ...
- Stay focused. ...
- Use proper hold procedures.
- Hello, thanks for calling [company]. ...
- Good morning (afternoon, etc.)! ...
- Hello, this is [name]! ...
- Hello, thanks for calling [company]. ...
- Thanks for calling [company]. ...
- Hi there! ...
- So glad to hear from you!
Good business phone etiquette is vital. It's often the initial communication point between you and your customers that forms a first impression, and it can help boost customer loyalty. Answering calls swiftly and taking messages displays competency, and lets your customers feel cared for.Why is professional telephone etiquette important? ›
Importance of Basic Telephone Etiquette
It reflects professionalism and appropriate conduct. It helps influence others and create positive impressions. It helps build interpersonal relationships by establishing trust and loyalty.
What are the most important aspects of professional phone etiquette? ›
Clarity is a key factor of professional communication. Use a clear, confident voice while speaking on the phone and articulate all of your words. Monitor your volume to make sure that you can be easily heard without being too loud. Avoid mumbling, stammering, or repeating yourself whenever possible.
- 1 Put your phone away during meetings. ...
- 2 Don't fiddle with your phone while driving. ...
- 3 Don't have your phone on the dinner table. ...
- 4 Mobile calls in public transportation isn't very polite. ...
- 5 Don't talk on the phone when you pay. ...
- 6 Keep your phone off in church, the theatre or similar.
- Answer incoming calls promptly. ...
- Open the conversation enthusiastically and politely. ...
- Listen, absorb and repeat back to the customer. ...
- Maintain a positive attitude. ...
- Practice empathy. ...
- Provide reassurance and set expectations. ...
- Take action!
- Ask a question. One effective tactic to start a conversation is asking a question to the person you want to speak to. ...
- Give a compliment. ...
- Talk about an event or situation. ...
- Ask an opinion. ...
- Offer help. ...
- Ask for help. ...
- Ask open-ended questions. ...
- Share an interesting fact.
Speaking professionally means that you communicate with clarity and confidence, putting listeners at ease while also informing and persuading them. If you're looking for ways to improve, you can learn a lot by observing and getting feedback from skilled speakers.How can I sound more professionally? ›
- Tip #1: Slow down.
- Tip #2: Make direct statements.
- Tip #3: Practise your intonation.
- Tip #4: Avoid filler words and sounds.
- Tip #5: Avoid unhelpful phrases.
- "Unfortunately, I have too much to do today. ...
- "I'm flattered by your offer, but no thank you."
- "That sounds fun, but I have a lot going on at home."
- "I'm not comfortable doing that task. ...
- "Now isn't a good time for me.
- I'd rather not say.
- I'd prefer not to talk about that.
- I'd rather not get into [this topic] at this event.
- I'd prefer not to discuss this right now.
- I'm sorry, that's private.
- That's a little too personal.
- That topic is too difficult to discuss at this moment.
To prepare for these situations, it's useful to rehearse your noes beforehand.
- “Thanks so much for the invite, but I'm really trying to focus on my work these days, so I'm gonna have to say no.”
- “I actually have a lot on my plate right now, so I can't help you out here.
HELEN'S ANSWER: If you are the caller, you should be ready to end the conversation when it is over. However, depending on time constraints, the receiver could also choose to be through talking at any time.
What are good phone skills? ›
- Positive attitude.
- Clarity and strong diction.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Empathy and sincerity.
- Active listening.
Be Enthusiastic and Speak Clearly
These are two of the most basic and essential skills you need when handling a call. It is important to convince the other person that you are happy to be speaking with them. To do so, you should be taking every call with a smile and energy in your voice.
If you're on a call with a client or a prospect, try this – wait three seconds after the other person stops talking before you respond. This might be difficult at first, especially if a client has an easy question or a prospect has an objection that you know exactly how to overcome.How do you end a phone call? ›
Thank the caller for their time and then wish them the best. If they've already wished you the best, simply say “Thanks, you too.” For example, try ending a call with “It's been so nice talking with you. Have a great rest of your day!”How quickly should you answer the phone when it starts ringing? ›
It is best to answer the phone after 2 or 3 rings.
If you let it ring more than 3 times, the caller may become impatient and feel that their call is being ignored. On the other hand, if you pick up after the first ring, the caller may be taken by surprise by the quick answer.
- Be in control of your phone, don't let it control you!
- Speak softly.
- Be courteous to those you are with; turn off your phone if it will be interrupting a conversation or activity.
- Watch your language, especially when others can overhear you.
- Answer Calls in 3 Rings or Less. Answering incoming calls in three rings or less is the standard for the telephone answering service industry. ...
- Speak Clearly and Professionally. Clear enunciation is essential for a good customer call experience! ...
- Practice Active Listening.
- Do: Listen before you speak. ...
- Do: Take turns. ...
- Do: Adapt your conversation to your listener or listeners. ...
- Don't: Put your foot into your mouth. ...
- Don't: Interrupt… ...
- Don't: Leave people out of the conversation. ...
- Don't: Overshare your feelings.
- Be Yourself. ...
- Be Confident. ...
- Provide Value. ...
- Recognize That "No" Isn't Failure. ...
- Focus on Relationship Building. ...
- Leave Voicemails. ...
- Don't Take it Personal. ...
- Don't Jump Straight Into Your Pitch.
- Don't multitask. “Be present. ...
- Don't pontificate. ...
- Use open-ended questions. ...
- Go with the flow. ...
- Try not to repeat yourself. ...
- Stay out of the weeds. ...
- Listen. ...
- Be brief.
What are the 3 rules of politeness in a conversation? ›
Rules two (Be Polite) consists of a sub set of three rules: (1) don't impose, (2) give options, (3) make A feel good – be friendly. These rules are deceptively concise, but they are actually complex because language provides multiple forms for expressing them.How many no's before a yes? ›
“9 Nos to YES” is about the numbers. It's about increasing your odds of success. It's about having the confidence to march proudly through the NOs, knowing that if you keep going, you will get to “yes”.What is the most important cold calling tips? ›
- #1 Carry out pre-call research.
- #2 Write a cold calling script.
- #3 Find a good time to call.
- #4 Learn how to deal with objections and rejections.
- #5 Don't start cold calls with a sales pitch.
- #6 Calls are a dialogue, not a monologue.
- #7 Leave a voicemail.
- #8 Don't give up… too fast.