For business owners, there can be nothing worse than turning away a business opportunity. However, unless your staff are adequately trained in business phone etiquette, that’s exactly what they may be doing.
Building a good impression when talking to a customer / prospect on the phone is one of the most important things your employees can do for your company. No matter your business – a shop, office, restaurant or factory – phone calls are immensely important. Good business phone etiquette helps foster clear lines of communication, build rapport and avoid misunderstandings.
Today’s advanced business phone systems can do more harm than good if proper business phone etiquette is not employed when using them. When using features like call transferring, call hold and conferencing among others, remember the human element. Treat your callers in a way that you would want to be treated on a business phone call.
If you want your customers to have a positive impression of your business, here are some suggestions on how to handle customer calls within your business.
Answer the call quickly
Most people hang up if the phone doesn’t get answered after six or seven rings. If it always takes that long, the first impression your customers are going to have is that your company doesn’t care. They may also think that you’re closed, unorganized, or lack adequate staff. Answer the phone as soon as you can since nobody likes to be kept waiting, especially on the phone.
If your employees are too busy to answer the call, make sure the voicemail gets customers to the menu easily and they’re quickly transferred to someone who can help.
Create Individual Voice Mail Greetings
A voice mail greeting is a statement of who you are as an individual and what your company values are. While a short and abrupt voice mail greeting can leave a negative impression on your callers, a long and drawn out message can frustrate them. A properly composed individual voice mail greeting will create a positive image about your business in callers’ minds.
The voice mail greeting should never be more than 20-25 seconds and will ideally include your name, department name, company name, reason why the call cannot be answered at the moment, invitation to leave a message, when can the caller expect a return call, and who to contact for immediate assistance.
Placing a caller on hold
The last thing anybody wants to hear over the phone is that they are going to be put on hold. When putting a caller on hold, explain the reason and approximate hold time. Play music and / or informational messages about your business while the caller is waiting on the line for you.
Remember the extension numbers
If you can’t help a client, make sure you connect them quickly to the right person. In order to connect the caller to the Technical Support Department, say something like ‘the Tech Support team should be able to help you. Would you like me to put you through?’ Make sure someone on the support team is ready to answer the call.
Make sure your employees have an updated list of extension numbers and are trained on how to use the telephone system, including passing the call through to an internal extension. Often callers have found themselves cut off due to a lack of understanding on the part of operator on how to properly use the phone system, resulting in a loss of the call. This is unprofessional and may have just cost you a critical order.
Take a Stand and be an Expert
This is something that we forget during a busy day, but it’s important to remember that the client is paying to speak to you! Make sure you’re delivering value by being prepared, trustworthy and firm. If you’re offering a solution or recommending something, defend it. Explain why it is a best solution for clients’ needs and what could go wrong if they don’t do it.
There are times when you should be flexible and open minded to ensure the best interests of your client but when you’re sure of a recommendation, be firm.