From text to email, there are many ways to communicate in the modern age. In business, talking on the phone has proven to be the most important medium of them all, still. A single phone call can be the deciding factor on whether you gain or lose a customer.
Below, we are going to discuss the importance of phone etiquette and tips to maintain your clarity and professionalism while over the phone.
Why is Phone Etiquette Important?
In business and your personal life, first impressions are important. First impressions, more often than not affect the long-term reputation of the company. Phone conversations can be the first form of communication a customer has with a business.
If a customer has a bad experience on the phone, they may have a negative view of the business that never changes; no matter how hard you try. Having good phone etiquette plays a large part in maintaining a strong connection with your customers and ensuring an air of professionalism. Good phone etiquette can separate you from the rest of the market and encourage customers to call back once more.
Over the phone, effective communication is already more difficult compared to a face-to-face encounter. Studies show that 55% of communication is about body language.
Some clues of positive body language are relaxed body posture and emphasizing words with your hands. The customer can not see any instances of positive body language over the phone, so you have to go the extra mile to help them have a positive experience. Phone etiquette is an important part of establishing a strong connection with your customers.
9 Ways to Improve Phone Etiquette for Business
But, the question arises, what is good phone etiquette? Read below to learn tips and tricks to improve your phone etiquette within your business.
- Answer Quickly: If you are on hold waiting on the phone, do you like waiting for long periods of time? Customers don’t either, especially potential customers that are calling your business for the first time. To reduce their wait time, answer the phone call between the first and second ring. There is also such a thing as answering too quickly. Most people are accustomed to waiting at least until the first ring in order to hear an answer. If you answer quicker than that, then you may catch them off guard and leave them feeling frazzled.
- Greet Calls Courteously: When customers call your business, whether through an inbound call center or directly, they want to talk to someone who has a professional tone and is pleasant. Be sure to include a generous greeting to fully inform the customer who they are speaking to. A typical greeting would include a salutation, your name, and the business name.
- Smile as You Speak: Since the customer on the other side can’t see you, you may believe that smiling while you speak does not make a big difference. But, that is definitely not the case. Smiling when you speak changes the tone of your voice and makes you sound more positive. This will influence customers to stay on the phone longer and give you more opportunities to make that important sale.
- Speak Clearly: During phone conversations, it is important to clearly convey your message. As mentioned previously, communicating effectively on the phone is already a difficult task to accomplish. To maintain clarity, avoid mumbling, speaking too quickly, or having a volume that is too loud or soft. This avoids miscommunication between you and the customer. Also be sure to properly enunciate your words so you and the customer won’t waste time trying to figure out who said what.
- Ask Permission and Say Thanks: If you have to go off the line for any reason, be sure to ask the customer’s permission first. Once you get back on the line, thank them for their patience. This is important to maintain your professionalism and ensure the customer that you know that their time is valuable.
- Never Interrupt: Don’t interrupt your customer at any period of the conversation. It is often perceived as rude and certainly the quickest way to getting hung up on.
- Stay Focused: Office environments can be quite distracting and hectic thus maintaining a clear phone conversation can be quite difficult. Block out any coworkers or external noises that you may be dealing with in the present. If it is impossible, you may want to take the call in a less hectic part of the office where you easily focus on the task at hand. It is crucial that you make the customer feel like they are heard and that their time is important to you - because it is.
- Recap Key Facts: Recapping key facts is a good way to ensure that there is clarity between both parties. Summarize what the caller said in your own words and repeat it back to them. The caller will know that you have understood their situation.
- Don’t Pre-Empt: In conversation, it is quite easy to miss some key elements; especially when you assume what your caller is going to say. That is why it is important to add key elements to the CRM system in order to help the next advisor who will take the next call. This will build rapport, and influence the caller to call back again.
Phone etiquette is often what separates good businesses from great businesses. As often the only form of communication between the business and a customer, it can either be the beginnings to a positive business relationship or the foundation of a bad reputation. It entirely depends on maintaining your professionalism, establishing clarity, and ensuring that the customer has felt heard.
Once you incorporate the above tips into your phone etiquette, there is a much larger chance potential customers blossoms into repeat customers.
Are there any other phone etiquette tips and tricks that have worked for your business? Share your knowledge below!