It’s easy to assume that everyone knows how to answer a telephone professionally, but if you make many calls, you’ll soon discover how false that assumption is. In fact, unless a team member is told how phones should be answered, and taught appropriate telephone etiquette, you may be surprised at how random and inconsistent receiving phone calls can be.
The first step in knowing how to answer the phone properly, is knowing who’s responsibility it is to answer it. Unless someone is in charge of answering the phone, with a backup or two in place to help out, your business phone may ring 10 times before someone picks it up in frustration. And you know what kind of impression that would make for your company.
Never let a telephone ring more than four times if at all possible. And if it does, be sure you apologize to the caller for making him wait if he’s still on the line. Many people will hang up after 4-5 rings thinking the business is closed. Unless you can afford to lose a customer, be sure the phone is answered promptly during normal business hours.
Rather than a quick hello, many companies are choosing a longer greeting such as “XYZ Company, this is Ann. How may I help you today?” While the idea is to make your caller feel welcome, this can quickly become annoying, especially for someone who has been trying to reach an operator or someone who’s in a hurry. Be considerate as you plan your telephone greeting so that it doesn’t become a full one minute message like some do.
It’s always a good idea to let the caller know who’s speaking, regardless of the employee’s status. This provides a more personalized experience, regardless of the nature of the call.
When a call is placed on hold or transferred, tell the caller what you’re doing and give them a direct number to call, if available, should they be disconnected. People know that accidents happen and that calls can be lost. But having a call dropped in the middle of a transfer or while waiting on hold is frustrating, to say the least.
Use a form for taking messages and have a system in place as to where they’ll be left, whether on the receptionists desk or the call recipient’s. Be sure everyone knows to record the caller’s name, phone number, time and date of their call and any message they want to leave.
And be sure your employees return their calls! This is one of the most alarming practices in business today, the fact that so few people return a telephone call. This is not only rude, but it’s extremely unprofessional and can quickly cost your business a customer if this practice isn’t nipped in the bud.
Telephone etiquette is a crucial part of your customer service. Learning to do it well and following the policies your company sets down should be a part of every employee’s training. When there are ready-made eCourses available to teach your employees better telephone skills, it doesn’t make sense that you would chance harming customer relations by not making the most of them.