Excellent phone skills are not just about sounding sweet and thoughtful on the other line. Proper telephone etiquette goes beyond the usual hellos and goodbyes over the phone. It also includes using polite greetings, strong listening skills, not leaving customers on hold for too long and transferring calls appropriately. Here are some tips on how to improve your phone skills:
No one wants to talk to somebody who sounds tired, depressed or melancholic. The moment you pick up the phone, thank the person on the other line for calling. Follow it with a greeting, identify yourself with the company or business name, and offer your assistance. Here's an example: "Hello, good morning! This is Mary of Wellington and Associates, how can I assist you today?"
Putting the caller on hold cannot be avoided, especially when you're multitasking or handling multiple calls at the same time. The rule of thumb when it comes to putting people on hold is no more than two minutes. If you have to put them on hold for a longer time, you can offer to call them back. If they insist, you can get back to them every two minutes. It is important not to let the caller feel that they're left alone.
Proper Methods of Addressing the Caller
Ask the caller how you want him or her to be addressed. As a general rule, you can call them Mr., Mrs. or Miss and then insert their last name. However, to make it more warm and personal, ask them if it is okay for you to call them by their first name.
Most if not all people call customer service to ask for help. It could be something about a product they just bought, a store's hours of operations or directions on how to get to a specific place. Be ahead of the customer's needs and answer their questions appropriately and politely. If you do not know the answer to a specific question, put them on hold briefly and look for the appropriate reply. If you cannot provide assistance after exhausting all resources, offer to get back to them later with an answer, and follow through. Even though the person on the other line will not see you, the sincerity of your voice will really make a difference.
Listen, Listen and Listen
There's a huge difference between hearing what the other person on the other end is talking about and listening to what the specific concerns are. As much as possible, avoid doing unnecessary tasks or unrelated activities while you're on a call. Visualize the person you're talking to and remind yourself that you are talking to a live person who needs your help. If you cannot focus, try writing the key points of what they're telling you. These notes will come in handy, especially when verifying some important parts of the call.
End the Call with a Smile
End the call with a smile and thank the customer for calling. Review the issue or problem and what you've done to help them out with it.
Good telephone etiquette will not only satisfy your customers but will also help you promote a pleasant image for your business.