How Do You Answer The Phone At Work?
The 8 Rules of Phone Etiquette at Work
Preparation is the first step toward becoming a pro on the phone. You'll need to learn the lay of the land before you start taking phone calls, particularly if you're using a newly installed phone system.
Take some time to make yourself familiar with the phone system. Learn how to place callers on hold without losing them, print substantial phone numbers and extensions on a cheat sheet, and become an expert on how to switch calls (including blind and attended call transfers).
You would also want to be able to take notes, in case you need to move a message along. Keep open your helpdesk, CRM, and other tools for customer support, so you don't try to find them when you chat on the phone.
When adding notes, it’s always a good idea to ask for the caller's name, and details to document what they’re calling about. If the caller needs a follow-up, make sure you take down their best contact number or email.
In case that person is not available to answer the call, office workers should know who is accountable for taking calls and have a system in place.
Answer Right Away
The average length of a single ring is about six seconds, so you're looking at a 30-second wait if you let the phone ring five times, which can leave callers feeling irritated.
On the other side, it can catch people off guard by answering a call on the first ring. Aim to pick up around the third ring if practicable.
Chances are you'll be away from your desktop phone at any point in the day. This doesn't mean you have to slow down or even skip them entirely in order to answer calls.
"By welcoming them and introducing yourself and the organization, when you answer the phone, welcome calls, this helps people to realize that they have dialed the correct number instead of responding with a simple" Hello?
Instead, try something like this: “Good morning, this is [Name] from [Company]. How can I help you?" It's a simple phrase, but it goes a long way in delivering a sense of warmth through the wires.
Be an Active Listener
There is nothing worse than contacting an agent with a question or concern, and finding that they have not been paying attention. A couple of tips to let the client know that you're listening:
- Repeat what the customer says verbatim. Use this approach sparingly to let the customer know that you heard their request.
- In their own words, summarize what the customer says. It means that you've heard what the other individual is saying and that you know their situation.
- Ask follow-up questions that are important. Get a sense of what this person is trying to do or what looks like their ideal result.
- Confirm that you're on the correct road. Before the caller thinks like their dilemma has been answered, you do not want to hang up. Make sure you ask yourself if something you may have missed is there.
For good phone etiquette, one general rule is to listen more than you talk, particularly if you have replied to an incoming customer service request. Although you might already have the answer because of your background, before you jump in with a suggestion, let the caller finish what they're saying.
Consider Your Tone
Bear in mind, the customer's only experience of the business might well be the voice on the call. Make a point of speaking with a friendly tone of voice when you answer the call, regardless of how you feel that day, some say smiling when you talk will help you sound more cheerful. Your tone is like your face-to-face body language over the screen.
Keep your voice at a medium level and talk softly enough to make it easy for the caller to hear what you mean.
Furthermore, beware of fillers that may weaken your professionalism. Um, ahs, and overuse of the word "like" come to mind automatically, as do slang terms or something that could offend the caller unintentionally.
Don't Use Speakerphone
Skip the speakerphone unless absolutely necessary. It not only picks up extra noise from the background, but it also gives callers the impression that with your full attention, you're not listening.
What's more, it also creates the feeling that the call is not personal. If there is more than one person from your organization on the line, the only time it makes sense to use the speakerphone, although it is arguably easier to connect everyone via conference call. Before you do so, make sure you let them know if you need to place the caller on the speakerphone. Better still, invest instead in a hands-free headset.
Summarize Key Points Before Hanging Up
Here's the thing, there's nothing worse than explaining anything to others and finding that something you just said didn't catch them. Make a point of summing up the call before you sign off. The advantage here is twofold — for one, this creates some trust between you and the caller, as this indicates that you listened to what they had to say (hey, these days most of us don't experience that much).
The overview is also an excellent way to ensure that nothing significant has been overlooked and provides them an opportunity to explain the message if necessary.
End on a Professional Note
Make sure you finish things on a professional note after you summarize the bullet points of the call. Here, the aim is to ensure that the caller is pleased with the service they have offered and that they leave with a good experience. A few suggestions, so to speak, for nailing a dismount.
- Thank the caller for their time and reiterate the agreed-upon outcome of the call "Thank you for calling [name]. We're sending your order overnight and you'll receive your tracking number via email within a few minutes."
- Thank them for their business. "Have a great day [name], and thank you for being a customer."
- Keep the lines of communication open. You might say something like "If you need anything else, feel free to reach out."
The point is, you're announcing that you're about to hang up, which gives the client some kind of the last opportunity to mention something else. In the end, instead of an awkward, "oh, well, bye" style sign-off, you will have a plan in place for bookending your conversation.
When people think about how people view their business, professional phone skills might not be the first thing people think about, but even in today's digital age, often people just want to speak to a real person.
It is much easier to ask a fast question over the phone than typing it out and hoping someone is on hand to respond. Think about it this way — how much do you email a restaurant when you're searching for your phone to eat somewhere? What about if you have an urgent question or want to search if a store has a certain item in stock for someone you do business with?
The list goes on — but the point is, anybody in your business who can answer the phone at work should have the skills to be supportive, friendly, and an asset, not a liability, to your brand.
By Jeffreymendel Jeffrey Nash - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50308966
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