Despite the advantages of texting, instant messaging and emailing, the telephone is still the lifeline for most businesses. Here’s an inconvenient truth: a majority of business communications are still handled over the phone. And there’s a solid reason behind this fact — talking to clients on the telephone offers one thing that is hard to pull off via electronic messaging: the personal touch.
In short, the telephone is still king. It still reigns supreme.
But here’s the thing: we’re not entirely amazing at it.
Within the average company, 70% of all incoming calls are put on hold. 45% of those callers hang up within 60 seconds. Even worse, 37% of those who hang up will never call back.
Which is why it is of utmost importance to effectively make use of the telephone as the first and most dependable channel in communicating with customers.
Here are 25 telephone tips and tricks that will teach you the basics of professional phone etiquette, how to use the trusty telephone for customer retention, and how to field customer complaints about the phone like a pro.
Let’s get cracking.
Phone Etiquette 101
1. Smile when you answer the phone. The person on the other line will be able to tell the difference.
2. Avoid sounding rushed. Every caller should be made to feel important.
3. Do not call customers before 10:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. (unless they’ve instructed you to do so.) This shows respect for your customers’ time.
4. Make sure to consider the timezone of the person you’re calling when figuring out the best time to call.
5. Use the caller’s name once or twice in the conversation, but don’t overdo it.
Good general business phone tips
6. Remember that your phone voice is often the first impression a customer has of your company; make it a good one.
7. Be sure to ask permission before placing a caller on hold.
8. Return calls promptly. It’s obvious, but essential — and can set you apart from other businesses.
9. Try to answer all calls within three rings. Between the second and third ring is ideal.
10. Don’t answer on the first ring. It doesn’t give the caller time to collect his or her thoughts.
Phone tips for increasing customer retention
11. Use language like “we” and “our,” not “you” and “your.”
12. Don’t promise the moon (just to be able to end the call.) Better to be realistic.
13. Know what you’re going to say and the purpose of your call before you dial. You’ll sound more professional.
14. Be consistent. Always answer the phone in the same manner and be available the same hours every week.
15. Use words that customers like to hear, such as “free” and “new.”
Tips for making good use of a virtual receptionist
16. Gabbyville specializes in helping companies of all sizes maximize their productivity while maintaining a professional and efficient telephone presence with virtual receptionists.
17. Set up your system to handle routine questions, like your hours or your business address, before getting routed to a live person.
18. Customize your system so that it reflects your company’s brand and doesn’t appear generic to the customer.
19. Let your virtual receptionist tell your callers about new products, sales and special promotions.
20. Program a list of VIP callers who receive priority treatment.
Tips for handling customer complaints
21. Listen to the entire story before speaking. Interrupting will only exacerbate the problem.
22. Don’t take it personally.
23. Never argue (no matter how tempting.)
24. Try to handle an angry customer’s call away from a public area.
25. Be empathetic. Sometime’s a caller just needs to be heard.