How to Improve Phone Etiquette in Your Small Business

Did you know that the majority of customers decide whether to go with a particular business based entirely on their first phone interaction with them?

A survey by Office HQ found that a mishandled phone call doesn’t only impact the caller, as the vast majority will tell friends and family to avoid a business if the call wasn’t satisfactory.

Although these statistics are readily available, poor phone etiquette is still prevalent in businesses big and small.

So how can your business outshine the rest with the service you provide over the phone?

Be Friendly

This sounds obvious, but each phone call should begin by welcoming the customer to your business or your department and by you introducing yourself.

For example,  ‘Thank you for calling Cashflow Manager customer service, this is Fred’.

Any phone interaction should also start by getting the caller’s first name, remembering it correctly, and then using it in conversation. It makes the conversation feel more friendly and personal.

It also includes tone, as over the phone it is the only way for the caller to identify your mood. This means your tone must be inviting to the caller, not over the top, but one that lets the customer know you are eager to assist them.

Practice ‘Active Listening’

Focus your attention on the caller. When your customers call up, stop what you are doing and focus your attention on them. Listen actively to the caller, take notes and repeat their query back to them so you’re both clear about what they are asking. This will help you to give the best service possible to your caller.

Don’t interrupt a customer while they are explaining or even complaining. It can be difficult to do this, but make sure your whole team is trained to listen to the entire issue, no matter how long it takes. Not listening to the whole story is a great way to make your callers feel ignored and unimportant to you.

Make sure they can reach the right person

Reduce the risk of annoying customers by making sure the right people and departments are easy to locate and connect with. Obstacles, like entering an account number, without alternate routes to speak to someone can cause problems. Make sure that customers also have the option to speak to an operator if they don’t have their account number or member ID available.

Learn to use the hold button

If you need to consult with another employee, don’t try and muffle your voice by pressing the phone to your chest. This may cause people to hear things you don’t want them to hear.  It’s important that you ask the customer first, then put them on hold to investigate further. When you return, thank them for holding and for their patience.

Whilst this isn’t everything you need to think about when dealing with customers over the phone, these tips will have you well on your way to offering the kind of customer service your callers are looking for.

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