A proper business phone etiquette is crucial for a successful organization. Although it looks so easy, a lot of people answering the phone don’t seem to find the right words or attitude.
This business phone etiquette training, which will help you to improve your phone etiquette skills.
Many people use the phone for a first contact with your organization. The telephone operator, or colleague that takes incoming calls, is the one who makes the first impression, and acts as business card of the organization. A good first impression can be made once. A correct business phone etiquette is the key for success.
As people hate waiting, it is important to answer incoming phone calls quickly, if possible, within 3 rings.
The best way to answer the phone: ‘Good morning/afternoon, [name company], [your full name] speaking.
As the first seconds of a phone call might fade away, or don’t come across, business phone etiquette prescribes to start with a greeting. Follow with your company’s name, and possibly the department, and end with your name. Speak clearly and slow, and be friendly. Some people tend to speak too quickly, as they answer the phone so often, but for the one at the other side of the line, your name is not always clear.
When the caller asks a question to you, and you need some time to find the answer, tell the caller ‘can you hold on the line please’ and put the line on hold.
If you want to connect the caller with a colleague, announce or ask the caller for a moment, and put the phone through to your colleague.
Sometimes you know in advance whether your colleague is not able / doesn’t want to speak to the caller. The best answer you can give is: I’ll try to reach [name colleague]. Can you hold on the line please?’ Ask your colleague whether he is able to speak to the caller. Then you can connect, or tell the person on the phone: ‘I cannot reach [name] at the moment. Shall I ask him/her to call you back?’ or ‘[Name] is in a meeting / not available / making a phone call at the moment. Shall I ask him/her to contact you / call you back?’
Many companies leave the initiative of calling back to the caller, which is no good business phone etiquette. In order to offer good service, it is wise to use a proper business phone etiquette by offering the caller that your colleague will call back. As some colleagues don’t keep their promises, you would better use the text: ‘I will ask my colleague to call you back’. This promise you can keep. In case the caller calls later and tells that he is still waiting for your colleague’s phone call, you can offer him/her to pass on the message again.
More incoming phone calls at once
In case you service more than one incoming line, it happens that you get another incoming phone call, while you are calling. A good business phone etiquette requires to ask the one you are calling with if he/she can hold on the line for a second, and take the new call as follows: ‘Good morning/afternoon, [name company], can you hold on the line please?’ Put this call on hold, and return to your previous phone call. In case this call takes longer than expected, return to the other caller, and ask again for a little patience. As soon as you have ended the call, go to the new caller with the text: ‘Thank you for waiting, [your name] speaking.’
Sometimes you have to deal with an angry caller. Often this anger is not intended personally, but as you are the first person answering the phone, you are the one the caller is reacting on. Give this person the time to tell his/her story, don’t argue with the caller. To show a professional phone etiquette, you’d better empathize with the situation, let him/her know that you understand that this situation is annoying for him/her, and take the complaint serious. Next try to find a solution, e.g. connect the phone with a colleague or department where the complaint belongs. If the person you are looking for, is not available, offer your caller a return call. Take care that this happens quickly, and if necessary, call in a colleague. Don’t take the complaint personally. Sometimes the caller insults you. If this annoys you too much, end the phone call in a correct way, and discuss the situation with your manager. If necessary, he/she can take action, e.g. by calling the angry person, and tell him/her that we take complaints very seriously, but that this doesn’t mean that he/she can insult an employee. It is very important that you always handle your (angry) callers in a correct way.
Outgoing phone calls
Also for outgoing phone calls, it is important to speak clear and slow. An example of proper business phone etiquette:
‘Good morning / afternoon, this is [your full name] of [possibly department + company name]. I am looking for Mr/Mrs [name]. Can you please put me through?’ ‘Can I reach Mr/Mrs [name]?’
If you get the answer that the one you are looking for is not available, or traveling, than it doesn’t mean that he/she cannot be reached. You can ask if the person can be reached by mobile phone. If the one you are looking for cannot be reached at the moment, then you can ask when this is the case. You can ask to let him/her ring you back, or you can indicate that you will call back later.
Call to a cellular phone
When you call a cellular phone number, the best business phone etiquette is to ask whether this is a convenient moment to call. You don’t know what the other person is doing at the moment; perhaps he/she is having a conversation with someone else, or filling the car up, etc. Now, you are sure that you get full attention.
Now you have a better guide for phone etiquette you can improve your customer satisfaction.