Top ten tips of Telephone Etiquette

Its 2020, and the mediums through which we communicate are many and diverse.  Its easy to forget in this world of DMs and Linked in messages that the telephone and phone conversation are an essential part of creating solid customer relationships built on trust.  Here are the top tips for modern phone etiquette -- and the first and most important is, of course, to answer the phone, and quickly!

1. Answer Quickly:
Answer within the first 3 rings -- if people are calling instead of emailing or messaging, it means they want a quick and immediate answer or solution. Never ever let a call go to voicemail and leave your customer feeling frustrated, abandoned and unimportant.

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2. Introduce yourself and be consistent:
Let the caller know immediately who you are. If they are calling, they may not have already checked out your linked in profile! And be consistent in the way you or your staff answer, it is reassuring. Have a standardised answer phrase that everyone uses.

3. Smile: When you smile, your voice and tone changes, and the person on the other end can feel that!

4. Be Direct: Set out the purpose and goal of the conversation clearly, and as early as possible in the call. No one has to time to waste beating around the bush. As soon as you understand the goal of the call, state it clearly so both parties are on the same page and you can work toward that goal together.

5. Be clear and informative: If the substance of the call requires action, list calmly and clearly each step that you will take as soon as the call ends, so your customers knows what will happen next and feels satisfied that you are acting on their needs.

6. Be understanding but firm: If your customer is angry, saying things that could be considered judgemental of his state of mind are counter-productive. Don't say "calm down", for example. If they raise their voice, match their volume...but not their tone. Recognise their feeling and problem, and then you can get on to solving it. For example "Oh, how terrible -- we will fix that right away" or "You are right, that should not have happened. Lets get it solved." This way it is easier to defuse their anger and get down to problem solving.

7. Stay Positive: Whatever the problem, there is always a way to state it with positive language. If there is a complaint or a complex problem you don't know how to deal with, don't obfusticate -- tell the customer you will immediately investigate the issue and get back to them as soon as possible with a solution.

8. Be polite: There is never an excuse for impolite or unprofessional language -- no matter the situation, always stay respectful in your tone and your language, and you will generate respect and trust with the person on the other end.

9. Ask Questions. Take notes: If you are unsure what the customer really needs, ask. Make sure you get the situation clear, and be sure to record the information you need to solve their problem -- their name, their contact, what they are trying to solve, who they are trying to reach.

10. Speak Clearly: It may go without saying, but be aware when speaking on the phone that the other person doesn't know you or your personal speech rythms. Be conscious to speak always clearly and succinctly.