Business phone etiquette is incredibly important when it comes to customer satisfaction. Every telephone call is an opportunity for a business to prove their skill, dedication, and professionalism to the outside world. First impressions are important, both in your business and personal life. First impressions can affect the long-term reputation of a company. That phone call might be a customer’s very first time interacting with your business, and can be the deciding factor on whether you gain or lose a customer.
Proper phone etiquette will help you maintain a strong connection with your customers and can help separate you from the rest of the market and encourage customers to call back again.
Here are 5 business phone etiquette tips to help enhance your communication skills over the phone:
1. Answer the call within 3 rings.
There are so many communication alternatives available nowadays, such as email, chat, and online forms, so when a customer decides to pick up the phone and call your company, you know they’re looking for an immediate response. According to phone etiquette, three rings is the rule. Most people will hang up if they have to wait for more than three rings for you to pick up the phone, which is why three rings is the optimal wait-time.
Three rings is a universal number mainly for these two reasons:
- You answer the call fast. Three rings mean you haven’t picked up the phone immediately, but at the same time, you didn’t let the customer wait. Basically, you answered the call just right!
- You get enough time to prepare. Three rings give you enough time to notice the call, take a deep breath, and prepare, so when you take it, you can do your best.
2. Be calm and cheerful & smile when you talk.
You should always remain calm and cheerful on the phone, even when dealing with the most difficult customer. You have to remember that the person is calling for a reason. If they’re calling for customer support, they may have questions, concerns, or frustrations that need to be addressed. By remaining calm and cheerful, you can diffuse the situation and even end up brightening your customer’s day. It is also important to smile while you speak. You may think that smiling while speaking on the phone isn’t going to make a difference, since the person on the other end of the line can’t see you, but you’d be wrong. The tone of the human voice changes when smiling. It is readily perceivable to the caller and it sets the tone for the rest of the call. It’s been proven that a smile puts the caller at ease.
3. Actively listen, and take notes.
It’s important that you actively listen to your customers throughout a conversation. Actively listening means hearing everything they have to say and basing your answers off of their comments, rather than giving a generic response. This shows customers that you’re present and are empathetic to their inconveniences. Being a good listener makes customers feel cared about and respected, which makes them loyal to your brand. If you take the time to actively listen to each individual customer, you’ll build real personal connections and make a true difference. It’s also essential to take notes during calls. Keeping a record of the conversation by taking notes can ensure that you remember and respond to all the customer’s concerns effectively. Being proactive during the call ensures that you won’t miss any important information, and will help you understand customers’ issues, allowing you to provide a better service.
4. Don’t interrupt.
Don’t ever interrupt your customer at any period of the conversation. It’s not only rude, but also a quick way to lose a customer. No matter how angry, annoying or even provoking a customer is, you should stay calm and let them finish talking, since listening to the customer’s story is also beneficial from a psychological point of view as the customer feels taken care of when you listen carefully and let them speak. Listen carefully to complaints and show the customer that you find their concerns important.
5. Ask permission to put a caller on hold.
No matter how you try to avoid it, there will be times when you’ll need to place a caller on hold; however, it’s important that you ask the caller first. For example, you can say, “will you please hold while I verify that information for you?” A simple request will make the caller more willing to wait. If the hold takes longer than anticipated, check back with the caller periodically so they don’t feel like they’ve been abandoned. Upon returning, thank your caller again for their patience.
Proper telephone etiquette in the workplace is crucial and can be the ultimate key to gain a positive impression from customers and individuals you are talking with. Answering calls promptly and politely is an absolute must if you want your business to succeed, so make that call the best it can be, and it may create a loyal, lifetime customer.