93% of all communication is said to be non-verbal. This is not to say that words don’t matter. In fact, a great deal of what we say during conversations can determine the direction of the interaction. Phone conversations are an integral part of how most people conduct business. VoIP calls have become common. “They are low-cost and have value-added features,” a voip phone provider in Arlington noted.
Despite the prevalence of email services and bots that can handle several aspects of business communication, a customer service representative is still essential. Certain issues need to be addressed promptly and by a human. Most customers and clients do not relish the prospect of waiting to hear back from a business associate or agent.
A phone conversation is still the fastest and most effective way to communicate. Customers can ask unrelated questions and get instant answers. As such, phone etiquette becomes an integral part of any company’s recruitment requirements, especially for employees tasked with handling client concerns.
As such, it’s crucial to observe the following rules of phone etiquette:
1)Answer Calls Immediately
Most clients and customers don’t like waiting too long to have their calls answered. Customer service agents and information assistants should strive to answer calls immediately. It is bad form to let the phone ring for too long. As soon as the phone rings, wait for at least three seconds before picking up. Picking up on the first ring can seem rash, giving the customer a negative impression.
2) Immediately Introduce Yourself
Prolonged pleasantries are discouraged at workplaces. However, this does not negate the need for a proper introduction to a potential customer or client. As soon as you pick up the phone, salute the caller pleasantly and introduce yourself and the entity you represent. This immediately confirms to the caller that they have called the right number.
3) Speak Clearly
Few things are more frustrating than a mumbled voice over the phone. Clarity of voice is something many people neglect during phone conversations. The tendency to slur words in an effort to speak faster can lead to a garbled conversation, something many customers detest. Ensure that you are articulate and well-spoken. A caller’s first impression of your voice can be the difference between a potential client and a regular customer. Endeavor to communicate effectively by speaking clearly and concisely.
4) Active Listening
The vast majority of people do not fully appreciate the act of active listening. This is very different from the mindless attention we accord a speaker simply by being in their presence or hearing them speak over the phone.
Active listening is focused; it involves paraphrasing someone’s conversation and understanding some cues like tonality. A customer appreciates an active listener. Such focus demonstrates concern for the customer’s pain points.
Taking notes may become necessary. Callers do not like to repeat themselves; taking notes ensures that you don’t forget the main points of the conversation.
5) Positive Attitude
We all have bad days. On those rare occasions, it’s critical to remain professional. Taking out your frustrations on a caller is very unbecoming and rude. Likewise, a caller may have a bad day and decide to vent their anger on you.
Endeavor to keep calm and defuse any potential unpleasantness from the caller. Speaking in an accusatory or confrontational tone does not lead to productive discourse.
6) Ask for Permission Before Putting Someone on Hold
Indeed, sometimes the solution that a caller requires is not readily available. However, putting a customer on hold may give the impression of trivializing their concern. Always ask the caller whether or not you can put them on hold.
You may need to consult a coworker or supervisor before answering their query.
Many customers have difficulty getting through to an actual company employee due to the various buffers in place. When they finally manage to speak to a person instead of a recorded voice, it can be exasperating to be put on hold.
7) Use Appropriate Language
Misunderstandings tend to arise due to language issues. Expletives and slang may be acceptable when communicating with friends and family; communication with customers or clients requires the utmost decorum. Unwarranted laughter and jokes may demonstrate a certain flippancy that most people shun.
8) Voicemail Messages
Sometimes a client can call after business hours. You may not be able to address questions immediately, but always endeavor to check voicemail. A pressing issue may need a swift answer. Address issues of the previous business day at the start of each workday to eliminate a heavy workload.
9) Ideal Work Environment
The nature of the modern-day workspace is that sometimes multiple workers are cramped in adjacent cubicles. Having a quiet moment for conversations then becomes a challenge. Amid this chaos, it can be easy to ignore the distractions that such an environment can cause. A proper phone conversation cannot take place in such a place. Ensure that you chat with callers in a conducive environment.
10) Appropriate Use of Loudspeaker
The temptation to have a phone conversation through the loudspeaker function of a phone is understandable. Using it frees up your hands for other tasks as you speak with the caller. However, you may get distracted and not give the caller your undivided attention. Preferably, use a hands-free headset instead.
11) Be honest
The reason a customer call is usually to ask for specific information. Good phone etiquette includes knowing when you’re not able to answer a customer’s questions to their satisfaction. Rather than lying to them, it’s best to put them on hold while you do some research regarding their query.