by Randall Olson
Every time that your business telephone rings, there is an opportunity to build or damage a customer relationship. When an existing or prospective customer calls your company, the way that you address him or her plays a major role in whether or not the outcome of the conversation will be positive or negative.
No matter who answers the telephone in your business, that person’s words and actions form the basis of your company’s image among people who call your company. Regardless of the type of business you have, it’s important that you and every member of your team observe these basic telephone etiquette tips for professionals at all times.
1. Use The Equipment Properly
Don’t let new employees work the phones without first training with you or other experienced employees. Even if you’ve hired someone with years of multi-line telephone experience, you need to spend some time making sure that your new hire knows the ins and outs of how your system works. If not, you may end up with agitated customers and lost business from calls that get cut off accidentally, or that get transferred to the wrong extensions.
It’s important to keep in mind that new employees aren’t the only ones who can benefit from training on how to use the telephone equipment. It’s not uncommon for employees who work in a company for years to have very little practical knowledge of using any functions on the company telephones beyond simply taking calls. At a minimum, all employees should know the proper procedures for placing callers on hold and transferring calls to other extensions.
2. Answer Promptly
If the telephone rings so long that the customer on the other end wonders if he or she has dialed the wrong number, you are not practicing proper telephone etiquette. As a general rule of thumb, a business telephone should be answered by the fourth ring, preferably sooner.
3. Greet Callers Professionally
Answering the telephone in a professional environment is very different from answering personal calls. If your employees seem to have trouble greeting customers promptly, give them a script to use when answering calls. This can eliminate the possibility of inappropriate greetings, and can ensure uniformity in how your company’s calls are handled initially.
5. Keep a Smile on Your Face
Your voice changes based on the expression on your face. It’s a fact that the human voice takes on a pleasant quality when the person speaking is smiling. Encourage your employees to smile when they greet customers on the telephone, and do the same thing yourself.
Telephone Etiquette Matters
Following these simple telephone etiquette tips can have a positive impact on how customers see your organization. No company has ever lost business as a direct result of proper telephone usage and etiquette. However, any company who has had problems getting employees to greet customers promptly and properly has likely missed out on what could have been excellent business development opportunities.