When you’re working in customer support, you know that answering phone calls becomes the bread and butter of your position. A frontline worker typically is hired for their strong communication skills. Aside customer support representatives and businesses, there are some common phone etiquettes everyone must know and practice. A few have been outlined below:
1. Answer the call within the first three rings
Nobody likes to be kept waiting, and that includes people making a call. A customer service professional with excellent telephone etiquette should aim to answer within the first three rings. Answering the call too early may startle the client and leave you feeling flustered. If your position entails always being available to callers, you should actually be available. Even if you are busy on another call, answering the phone and even putting someone on hold for a short time is better than leaving the phone unanswered. Leaving a call unanswered may result in losing a potential customer.
2. Introduce the company and yourself first.
Potential customers want to know who they are dealing with. Always answer the phone with the company name and then introduce yourself. You can add “…how may I help you?” as an indication of your willingness to help. For personal calls, it’s sufficient to begin with a “Hello?” and let the caller introduce themselves first. However, you want to allow the caller to know if they’ve hit a wrong number, as well as whom they are speaking with.
3. Always speak calmly and clearly
Phone calls, while a great option for those who detest in-person interaction, do require very strong communication skills. For one, the person on the other end of the line can only judge you based on your voice, since they don’t get to identify your body language. By speaking calmly and clearly, you will sound in control and confident, which will, in turn, inspire trust. This will help to reduce confusion and will help customers understand what you say. You do not want to mumble or have to repeat yourself. Always talk with a smile on your face as this will come across in the conversation.
4. Listen carefully, take notes, and don’t interrupt.
Actively listen to your customers throughout the conversation. Actively listening means hearing everything they have to say without interrupting and basing your response off of their comments, rather than using a prescribed script. This proves to your customers that you’re present and are empathetic to their inconveniences. Taking notes as well will make recording the necessary follow-up information easier.
5. Using the correct tone and appropriate language.
As customers are not in a position to read your facial expressions or body language on a phone call, using an appropriate tone and the correct language is very important. This is where the branding of your company also comes into play. If your company has a fun and friendly image, then that is the tone your caller will expect from you. Similarly, if your company has a more corporate or professional reputation, you should not sound too casual.
Unless you know your customer well, avoid cracking jokes. Professional telephone etiquette does require the use of more formal language. Never use slang words or swear to maintain a professional image.
6. Do not eat or drink while on a call:
While working in customer service and answering calls, you should never eat, drink or chew gum while on a call. Not only is it very rude, but the sounds can be magnified on the phone. Try not to cough, sneeze or clear your throat while on a call. If necessary, always remove the handset or mouthpiece away, and cover it with your hand. Alternatively, you can put yourself on mute for a few seconds.
7. Make sure to ask before putting a customer on hold
If for some reason you have to put a customer on hold, first ask their permission. This is an often-overlooked courtesy, which can be frustrating for the caller. Try to limit the time you put the caller on hold and get back to them as soon as possible. When you come back on the line, remember to always thank your caller for their patience.
8. Always remain calm and cheerful
For first-rate telephone etiquette, you need to remain calm and cheerful even when dealing with the most difficult customer. Remember the person on the other end of the line is calling for a reason. If they are calling for customer support, they may have questions, concerns, or frustrations that need to be addressed. By remaining calm and cheerful you can diffuse the situation and even end up brightening your customer’s day. Try as much as possible to remain calm no matter how rude, difficult, or un-bearing the customer might be. It helps you and the customer in the long run.
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