In our personal lives, it can feel like we rarely pick up a phone anymore. When we have so many alternatives to the humble phone call like WhatsApp, Facetime, social media and even email.
But at work, especially throughout the last year, phone calls have surged. Research suggests call volumes surged by up to 80% as customers craved human reassurance after so much uncertainty.
As such, many companies are seeing the increasing need for telephone sales and skills training to help employees develop phone skills.
Business phone manners are just one aspect of this training that can help deliver outstanding customer service. We’ll be examining the most important ones in this article.
The 9 Most Important Professional Phone Manners
By no means an exhaustive list of good phone manners at work, we’re just covering the basics. They can be summed up as follows:
- Answer promptly
- Introduce yourself
- Be clear
- Be audible
- Match brand voice
- Be positive
- Be polite
- Be helpful
We’ll look at them all more in depth.
1. Answer Promptly
The reason many customers will contact a company via the phone, as opposed to through email or another digital channel, is because they want a quick answer.
So if the phone is ringing and ringing, you’re immediately not meeting this expectation. But more than this, leaving a phone ringing too long can make customers feel like they aren’t important to your company.
Pick up before three rings for the best practice.
When you answer the call, introduce yourself. Allow your customer to introduce themselves.
Use their name throughout the call to build trust. It gives your call a personal touch and shows the customer you value their unique problem.
3. Be Clear
Every call has a goal, so be clear about that goal.
For inbound calls, your customer will likely be making you aware of the goal. But you can still summarise to ensure you understand the goal and you’re both on the same page.
For outbound calls, it’s more likely you’ll be setting the goal of the call. So be clear and concise. Don’t waste a customer’s time beating around the bush.
4. Be Audible
Speak at a good volume.
This may need to be different for different callers. There’s nothing wrong with raising your voice a little to ensure a customer isn’t getting frustrated because they can’t actually hear you.
You should also enunciate. Don’t mumble. This can make it seem like you’re lacking in confidence or knowledge.
5. Match The Brand Voice
Tone of voice will vary a little from brand to brand, depending on what they want to represent. But your tone should match the brand voice.
For example, if you work at a law firm, but answer calls quite casually, this would be a big mismatch of tone of voice. But that same tone would be welcomed at a family restaurant.
Management should be giving clear instructions on brand voice and how employees can best match it.
It’s really easy when you’re on the phone to not pay as much attention as you would face to face. After all, the caller can’t see if you’re playing a game on your phone.
People are quite intuitive though, so they’ll realise you’re not giving your full attention; or worse yet, you’ll slip up and need to ask them to repeat themselves.
So give your full attention and listen. Take notes and ask questions. Repeat details back to customers to ensure you’ve got the full picture.
This can help reassure customers that you really care about their needs.
7. Be Positive
No matter what the customer you’re dealing with is like, you should try to stay positive. Even for those long complaints you’ve had nothing to do with up until this call!
Being positive helps reassure customers that there is a solution and together you can figure it out. It can help build great brand authority for your business.
8. Be Polite
Manners cost nothing, but it’ll cost you if you’re not polite in customer service.
There’s no excuse not to be polite. Even when a customer isn’t returning you the same courtesy.
Even for angry, rude customers, employees can learn how to deal with this through using customer empathy. This can help slow the call down and get the customer back on side.
9. Be Helpful
It’s annoying for a customer to be passed from pillar to post through departments. Especially when they don’t know how long they’ll be on hold or if they’ve not even been asked if they want to hold again.
Always ask a customer for permission before putting them on hold or transferring them. Give them the option to leave a voicemail as many customers simply don’t have the time to sit on hold.
Let them know how long roughly the hold will be and stick to that. When you take them off hold, thank them for waiting.
Good phone manners at work are a vital skill. They allow businesses to deliver better customer experiences and ultimately grow their business through these positive experiences.
But they’re just the start of the business phone etiquette skills employees need to be the best they can be. You can help unlock your employees full potential with bespoke telephone training.