Let’s talk about talking…. On the phone, that is.
Moreover, let’s talk about the importance of having good phone etiquette. As an Office Administrator, I spend a large chunk of my day talking through a handset/headset. Like many others in my field, I am the first person you reach when you call my company. Making a first impression is a big part of my job, and it’s my responsibility to make sure it’s a good one.
How many of you have had to do a phone interview when applying for jobs? Well, in this case you are also making a first impression through phone etiquette. Except, it’s for a potential employer, and it’s and WAY WAY WAY more nerve wracking. Did you get the job? Were you brought in for a face-to-face interview? If the answer to that question is “no”, you may need to brush up on your phone etiquette. But, no need to worry. I was raised in the age of technology and spent more time looking at my cell phone than talking through it. If I can do it, you can do it.
Here are 3 steps to help you on your way to becoming a phone expert.If you don’t work in an office setting, but you answer your cell phone with a “Yo”, “Yeah”, or “Sup” then this is also for you. What if the person on the other end of the line was a potential employer? Or, God forbid, your Mother-in-Law? Having a professional greeting when answering any phone is step one to mastering phone etiquette.
When training in a new position, your employer will usually give you guidelines for how they would like you to answer incoming calls. As a general rule of thumb, you want to answer the phone within three rings. The longer the client waits for you to pick up the phone, the more impatient he or she will be.
As for the greeting itself, something similar to the following is always a safe bet
Good morning/afternoon/evening + Company name + Your name + How can I help you?
This gives the caller all the information she or he needs to initiate conversation. Stating your name and the company’s name assures that they have contacted the right place. In a wrong number situation, you have also given them all of the information they need to know in order to avoid a seriously embarrassing situation (we’ve all been there). Having a professional and informative greeting can eliminate a lot of confusion and save you and the caller a lot of time.If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “talk with a smile when you talk on the phone” in my short time as an admin, I’d probably have five bucks, but hey, we all start somewhere. All joking aside, you truly can hear a smile through the phone, and it makes a major difference in how you are perceived by a caller. In fact, your tone can make or break a conversation. Your volume, on the other hand, can break a person’s eardrum. It’s important to be conscious of both tone and volume when speaking on the phone. Let’s go over a few tips.
1. Talk with a smile. You’ll come off as friendlier and more approachable if you do.
2. Speak with a low volume and an even pitch. This will make you easier to understand.
3. Speak slowly and enunciate your words for clarity.
4. Don’t answer the phone with food in your mouth.
5. When speaking through a handset, hold the receiver at least an inch away from your mouth.How many of you have been passed off to multiple departments in one phone call? I’m also willing to bet that a few of you have been cut off and placed on hold mid-sentence. Situations like these are so frustrating. Not only that… but it also reflects poorly on the admin and the company. Using your phone system goes beyond simply putting a caller on hold, transferring them to someone else, or using call park. Ultimately, it boils down to knowing how to handle calls in a way that is courteous and respectful to the person on the other end of the line.
1. When talking on the phone, it is important to remember that you are speaking with another human being. It is your job to treat all callers with the same level of respect that you’d want for yourself.
2. Before transferring, make sure that there is someone available to take the call.
3. Ask before putting a caller on hold.
4. If you anticipate having to place someone on hold for longer than a minute or two, ask if it is possible to return the call. This is preferable to enduring 10 minutes of hold music, trust me.1. Stay calm. Try to gather as much information as possible.
2. Be patient. When a caller is upset, let them talk out their concerns and frustrations.
3. Put yourself in the caller’s shoes. Let the caller know that you understand their concerns and apologize for any inconvenience.
4. Be firm. If a caller is demanding something that is against company policy, make that known.
5. Know when to pass the phone to a manager. Also know that it’s okay to end the conversation if you feel that the caller has become abusive and can no longer benefit from your help.Do you have any tips or tricks that you use when talking on the phone? Leave a comment below.
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Until next week,