The telephone is one unique spectral invention of man. This technology has been able to break the barriers of distance and physical presence- it has improved upon time and means used to disseminate information thereby increasing speed and even the quality of information dispersed.
One can contact anyone in any part of the world, this wasn’t until the late 1870s when it was invented and its patent rights are given to Alexander Graham Bell in the United States.
The quality of information dispersed over a phone call is now very dependent on having a strong communication skill; the customer service or front desk profession includes having powerful communication skill as a significant requirement for employment.
Phone etiquette deals with the mannerisms involved when making a phone call; it involves the way you greet, the tone of your voice, body language and a proper listening to understand the skill.
Having this skill set encourages discipline- the literal application of ‘the customer is always right’ at a customer service centre. Put aside your family disputes, the aggression of a bad day, that temper the disrespectful voice at the other end of the open line keeps fuelling with abuses, act composed, know what to say, when to say it and how to say it.
Answering a phone call:
- The very first etiquette is to make sure you pick up calls shortly after the telephone rings. Do not let your caller ring for long. It wearies customers to keep calling for long. Two to three rings should be enough to get you prepared for that voice. Answering calls quickly gives your callers a good impression, it makes them important. Well, I know your ring tones can cause a house party in a volcano; you can dance when your phone rings- which was the reason you used that ringtone in the first place but be disciplined to not complete that break-dance. Dancing for long to your ringtone is silly, imagine if your caller could see you through some mystical cloud and how irritating it is to watch your failed attempt at twerking. Don’t keep your caller waiting!
- Introduce yourself: Introduce yourself at the beginning of a phone call this helps the customer know that he or she has hit the correct number. It is very professional to also introduce the name of your company. Introducing yourself and saying your company’s name also helps to relax customers and gives them a good environment to express themselves. For personal or informal calls, the receiver responds first before his caller. Responses vary across different countries from “Hello!”, mentioning just the “Surname”, “first name” to sentences like: “hi, you’ve reached (name)”. It is impolite to include questions as a response; questions like “who is this?” is rude.
- Speak carefully and kindly: when making phone calls you need to be as audible as possible and avoid shouting. You need to speak strongly and confidently and very kindly too. Avoid throwing up slangs, vulgar words and unnecessary jesting during telephone discussions. Speaking to customers in kind, attentive and audible tones keeps them calm and inspires confidence in the customer.
- Use a friendlier tone: Try not to sound like a nagging housewife or someone in an argument, customers do not see your body language or a sharp smile but they can feel the gentleness in the tone of your voice. Tone is very important because it is too easy to identify kindness or rudeness in tones. A high-pitched tone is very disturbing but a low and relaxing time is very comforting. Speaking gently in all circumstances even when provoked shows professionalism.
- Listen actively, take notes if possible, Avoid distractions: The simple rule here is one ‘person at a time’ if distraction arises from co-workers excuse yourself from the environment, step into a conducive place and answer the call. Customers can tell when a front liner or customer care attendant is between a hot gist, an action film, a price bargain and themselves, because customers may have to explain their complaints or ideas repeatedly, this is not a good sign of good communication skill. Listen attentively and taking notes when needed helps remind and attend to customers complaints adequately.
- Remain honest: Be straight forward. Do not try to cut corners or lie. If you do not know the answer to a question kindly tell the customer that you do not and that you can get back to him when you get the right information, then get back to the customer as soon as possible. Giving false information says everything bad about the company it beats hard against the company’s image leaving ugly stripes. Be honest!
- If you need to place a caller on hold ask first: it is not only disrespectful to put a customer on hold without telling them it is also painfully annoying; talk about struggling through a long queue and then being overlooked, it can get customers very angry and make them complain. If you have to put the customer on hold or transfer their call to a co-worker inform them nicely, assure them that their complaints are important and will be rectified before you put them on hold, that way a short hold won’t seem like forever.
- Thank for…and give a proper Closing: Closing is very important. When closing thank customers for their patronage- in formal settings, emphasize that your company is reliable, ask if there is any other thing you could help with. Do not hang-up, let them do the hanging-up. It reduces accidental hang-ups when the customer has not finished speaking.
These are not all but it covers a great deal, putting the above into careful practice can help you become an expert in handling telephone conversations. Be conscious and ensure you’ve been disconnected before exclaiming YOU KILLED IT!