The telephone is one of the oldest means of communication. While other mediums have sprung up over the past years, the telephone remains as relevant as before whether for official or personal use. But you may need to improve on how you use the telephone. In this article, you will learn 8 telephone etiquette tips that will improve your professional and personal attitude towards telephone conversation.
What is Telephone Etiquette?
Telephone etiquette refers to the proper way of presenting yourself and your business or organization during a telephone conversation. This includes the way you sound, greet, listen, start and end a call, as well as your choice of words.
1. The 3-Ring Golden Rule
There are multiple channels of communication at our disposal today. However, telephone conversation cannot be antiquated, partly because it is the fastest way to get immediate attention, express feelings and be heard verbally. That means a caller needs immediate attention and, if your job involves receiving calls on behalf of your organization, you have to be available. It is generally recommended that you answer a call within the first 3 rings or 8 seconds. 70% of callers will hang up after the first 3 rings and will not call back. Why? Potential customers are usually very busy people who seize every opportunity to complete tasks.
2. Introduce Yourself Immediately
You can say “Hello!” if you receive a call from an unfamiliar person and let the caller introduce herself. For official calls, you have to introduce yourself and your company in order to confirm that the caller didn’t miss a digit, and you should do this in a welcoming way. Here is a typical example to practice: “Good afternoon, thank you for calling [company name]; this is [your name] speaking; how may I help you?” Your potential customer will feel comfortable and valued this way.
3. Listen Actively and Take Notes
Listening is an important but often underestimated communication skill. Your response should be based on what was said, not what you had planned to say. A poor listening skill will result in you asking your callers to tell you what they already said and you are likely to omit or forget important details when taking decisions regarding the conversations. But here is the good news: listening skills can be developed with practice and a good place to start is during informal conversations.
For instance, if you usually forget people’s names the very moment they mention their names or shortly afterwards, it is because you are not actively listening when they say their names; you are absent-minded, probably brooding over what you or they would say next, or something completely unrelated to the conversation. Practice listening actively to record improvement within days. Equally, taking notes during formal conversations will help you to avoid omitting important details when taking decisions concerning your conversation.
4. Neither Shout Nor Whisper
It is important to maintain a calm tone throughout telephone conversations. The pitch of your voice sends a signal to the caller. Do not yell, muffle or whisper to avoid sending the wrong signal. If you are not being heard or you struggle to hear, hang up and call back. Shouting will not only irritate the customer but it will also distract other people in the same location with you. In order to avoid having to repeat yourself several times, it is equally important that you choose the right time and location.
5. Keeping Callers on Hold or Transferring Calls
No caller likes to be kept on hold or transferred to someone else. So, as much as you can, avoid it. Nevertheless, certain occasions may warrant that you do so. In such cases, seek permission before you keep them on hold or transfer the call. In addition, explain why you have to do that and assure them it will solve the problem. Ensure you don’t keep a customer on hold for too long. Sometimes, it takes several minutes to finally speak to a human at the other end. Having to hold or transfer the call will worsen matters, especially considering the fact that customers would have to explain things all over.
6. Be Polite and Cheerful
On many occasions, customers call because they are upset and need to resolve certain issues. Sometimes, the caller may be rude, frustrated and vent anger on you. In such situations, simply acknowledge their right to be upset and assure them their concerns would be addressed satisfactorily. Frankly speaking, a customer may seek an impossible solution. In that case, respond sincerely, empathically and tactfully. You should always remain friendly, polite and cheerful. Do not ask them to “calm down” as this will suggest they are going crazy. Your cheerfulness and politeness could be contagious.
7. No Interruptions
Always avoid the temptation to interrupt customers while they are still speaking. Doing so would present you as rude, impatient and unconcerned. It could also deny you an important detail needed to handle the complaint thoroughly. Equally, avoid engaging in sidetalks and other activities capable of distracting you or annoying the caller, such as drinking, eating, chewing, or listening to music. If you need the help of your colleagues or supervisor, simply ask for permission to hold the call to avoid unprofessional interruptions and distractions.
8. Go Mute
If you are receiving calls on behalf of your organization, you have to be reachable almost round the clock. Notwithstanding, you should develop the habit of muting your phone in certain places in order not to annoy others. Silence your phone when you are in a meeting, restaurant, training session or classroom.
The importance of telephone etiquette cannot be overemphasized. Telephone conversation can be the first opportunity to create an impression about yourself or your organization. To create positive impressions, guide yourself with these telephone etiquette tips. They will not only help you to come across as a professional, but they will also enrich your interpersonal relationships.
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