Corporate Phone Etiquette Guide: How to Make the Most of Every Conversation
For the majority of businesses, the telephone plays a major role in daily operations. A phone call is often the preferred method of communication, so it’s important to optimise this opportunity to nurture relationships with your callers.
The way a business ‘sounds’ has a huge impact on a businesses brand. Take call centres for example, the majority of their communication is telephone based. Because of this, call centres invest a lot of time into researching what regional accents give off the best impression. If you were wondering… 52% of consumers rank the ‘Queen’s English’ (52%) highest, with the Northern Geordie ranking second (34%).
Every phone conversation will leave an impression about your business. In the hands of a poorly trained employee, telephone use can have an extreme negative effect on the business with 98% of people reporting poor phone skills leave a bad impression.
Your phone opens a door of communication with customers and can be one of a businesses greatest assets for generating new sales leads. So let’s make sure you’re not wasting conversations.
It’s good practice to take the time and properly train your staff. With 70% of consumers ending a relationship with a company due to poor customer service, understanding general corporate phone etiquette is a simple way to make sure you’re really making the most of your phone conversations. To make it really easy for you, follow the following telephone etiquette tips and you’ll ensure that your phone conversations are giving off the right impression for your business.
- Speak clearly and use professional language
- Using phrases such as “thank you” and “please” are essential in displaying a professional atmosphere
- Listen actively without interrupting
- Confirm Information by repeating details back to callers to ensure you have everything correct
- All staff should be prepared with your company’s elevator pitch and Frequently Asked Questions to ensure simple questions are answered quickly and cohesively
- Even if you have no idea what they are talking about remain positive and professional by using ‘let me find that out for you and come back to you’ rather than ‘I don’t know’ as it shows interest and a willingness to help
- Learn the phonetic alphabet and use it when you are confirming spellings back… don’t use ‘G’ for gnome 🙂
- Avoid making the caller wait for the phone to be answered
- If you have a modern phone system:
- Ensure Call Flows and Time of Day rules are designed so that the caller is connected with their desired contact or department as quickly as possible
- If their desired contact or department isn’t immediately available, ensure your system is configured so they reach a person within the company rather than sending them to voicemail
- If you have a legacy phone system:
- Try to answer the phone within three rings.
- Stop what you are doing and focus on the call. It’s tempting to multitask, but callers will feel your distraction
- Answer with a friendly greeting:
- Good Afternoon, (company name), Lisa speaking, how may I help you?
- Thank you for calling (company name) how can I help?
- This is Lisa, how can I help?
- Smile – it shows, even through the phone lines; speak in a pleasant tone of voice – the caller will appreciate it
- Ask the caller for their name, even if their name is not necessary for the call. This shows you have taken an interest in them
- If the caller has reached a wrong number or department, be courteous. Sometimes a caller is transferred all over with a simple question and the caller gets frustrated. Take the time to find out where they should be calling/to whom they should be speaking
- Always show willingness to resolve the problem or conflict
- Try to think like the caller. Remember, their problems and concerns are important
- When putting a caller on hold, always ask permission. “Would you mind holding while I check?” or “Can you hold briefly while I see if Mr. Jones is available?” When taking a caller off of hold, always thank them for holding.
- If the called party does not wish to take the call, return to the caller
- “He/she is unavailable, can I take a message or would you like his/her voicemail?”
Handling The Phone
Understand and utilise all of the features of your phone system. Important ones to know are:
- Placing a call on hold
- Muting the handset
- Transferring a call
- Entering the conference bridge
- Accessing voicemail
- Answering another phone ringing in the group
- Enabling the Do Not Disturb function
- Use the hold or mute function when leaving a line so that the caller does not accidentally overhear conversations being held nearby.
- Mute function is used for brief periods of waiting < one minute.
- Hold function is used for longer periods of waiting > one minute.
- If a caller is on hold, be sure to give them an idea of how long they may be waiting and check in periodically if it is more than a minute. Offer to arrange a call back if they would prefer.
- Ensure your Do Not Disturb feature is enabled when you are out of the office or away from your desk for more than a few minutes.
- When transferring a caller, tell them who you are transferring them to, and announce the caller to the person you are transferring them to.
If you are unsure how to use any of these function, please visit our Resource Hub where we have How-to video guides for each function on your phone.
- Be prepared to record details of your conversation immediately with your customer management tool of choice (CRM, email, chat.)
- When taking messages be sure to ask for:
- Caller’s name & Company
- Caller’s phone number and/or extension.
- Repeat the message to the caller.
- If the conversation requires any action be sure to assign and copy in / mention the appropriate contacts.
- There are several ways that you can end a long phone call without making up a story or sounding rude:
- Leave the conversation open
- Promise to finish your discussion at another time.
- End on an “up” note.
- Tell the person how much you’ve enjoyed speaking with him/her.
- As long as you are honest and polite with the other person, you shouldn’t have any problems getting off the phone and onto something else.
Happy customers are your greatest advocates. Promoting a positive user experience is the best way to generate referrals. 15% consumers will talk about good customer service experiences whereas 24% people would share their bad experiences. Understanding the basics behind corporate phone etiquette is a simple way to ensure you are making the most of every conversation and are not wasting valuable opportunities to build a relationship with your customers.