Web enquiries, emails, social media and live chat facilities all have their place, but the telephone is still the preferred communication tool of choice for many when it comes to business. With this in mind, here’s our tips on getting call answering right first time…
The first one is probably the most obvious but answer the call quickly. Nothing says unprofessional like leaving a caller hanging on a ringing line. They have made the move to call your business over the others listed on Google (and probably cost you a ‘click’ in the process!) so reward them by answering their call quickly.
Answering the phone ‘with a smile on your face’ might sound cheesy but it really works. It doesn’t matter if you are having a bad day, are half way through a complicated spreadsheet or half way out of the door on the way home. Your caller takes priority. Warm and enthusiastic is suddenly the order of the day.
Always mention your company name in your greeting. It confirms where the caller is ringing without them having to check and sets the tone for a professional conversation.
Speak clearly and use professional language – enunciate every word and avoid using ‘cheers’, ‘uh-huh’, ‘mate ‘,’yeah’ etc. You are speaking to a business contact not your drinking pal. Keep it friendly but business-like.
When taking a message check the information you are noting. Re-confirm any spellings that you are unsure of back to the caller. I can almost guarantee any subsequent emails to ‘Katy’ will put you on the back foot if you put ‘Dear Katie’. If you are taking down email addresses or telephone numbers always read these back. You don’t want a red hot business lead in your hand that you can’t get back to.
Learn the phonetic alphabet and use it when you are confirming spellings back. It’s not difficult to pick up and N for November sounds so much better than ‘So that’s N for Noddy?’
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.
If possible give the caller an idea when they can expect a call back. If your colleague is in a meeting or out of the office for the afternoon explain it may be the following day that they get a response and check if someone else can help them. Your poor colleague may well get a frosty reception if they call back a day later and from the way you took the message the caller had expected a quicker response.
If you have to put people on hold make sure you go back to update them every few seconds or so and remember to keep offering to have them called back
Be aware your out of hours callers are just as important as those who call within office hours. You may well receive calls in the evening and over the weekend particularly if your callers are consumers. Have a professional call answering service in place for these people – your next big sale could come through when your office is closed. Don’t put them off by letting the phone ring or using an impersonal answerphone. A new customer will almost certainly call the next business in your industry that bothers to pick up.