The 7 most important professional phone etiquette rules
Key professional phone etiquette rules can be summed up as follows:
- Answer the call promptly
- Introduce yourself
- Be clear and audible
- Listen carefully to the caller
- Be positive and engaging
- Be polite and respectful
- Be helpful and sincere
We’ll look at them all more in depth.
1. Answer the call promptly
The reason many customers will contact a company via the phone, as opposed to through email or another digital channel, is because they want a quick answer.
So if the phone is ringing and ringing, you’re immediately not meeting this expectation. But more than this, leaving a phone ringing too long can make customers feel like they aren’t important to your company.
Pick up before three rings for the best practice.
2. Introduce yourself
When you answer the call, introduce yourself. Allow your customer to introduce themselves. Use their name throughout the call to build trust. It gives your call a personal touch and shows the customer you value their unique problem.
3. Be clear and audible
For inbound calls, your customer will likely be making you aware of the goal. But you can still summarise to ensure you understand the goal and you’re both on the same page. For outbound calls, it’s more likely you’ll be setting the goal of the call. So be clear and concise. Don’t waste a customer’s time beating around the bush. Raising your voice a little, if needed, to ensure a customer isn’t getting frustrated because they can’t actually hear you.
You should also enunciate. Don’t mumble which can make it seem like you’re lacking in confidence or knowledge.
4. Listen carefully to the caller
It’s really easy when you’re on the phone to not pay as much attention as you would face to face. After all, the caller can’t see if you’re playing a game on your phone. People are quite intuitive though, so they’ll realise you’re not giving your full attention; or worse yet, you’ll slip up and need to ask them to repeat themselves. So give your full attention and listen. Take notes and ask questions. Repeat details back to customers to ensure you’ve got the full picture. This will help reassure customers that you really care about their needs.
5. Be positive and engaging
No matter what the customer you’re dealing with is like, you should try to stay positive. Even for those long complaints you’ve had nothing to do with up until this call! Being positive helps reassure customers that there is a solution and together you can figure it out. It can help build great brand authority for your business.
6. Be polite and respectful
Good phone etiquette costs nothing, but it’ll cost you if you’re not polite. There’s no excuse not to be polite. Even when a customer isn’t returning you the same courtesy. For angry, rude customers, employees can learn how to deal with this through using customer empathy. This can help slow the call down and get the customer back on side.
7. Be helpful and sincere
It’s annoying for a customer to be passed from pillar to post through departments, especially when they don’t know how long they’ll be on hold or if they’ve not even been asked if they want to hold again. Always ask a customer for permission before putting them on hold or transferring them. Give them the option to leave a voicemail as many customers simply don’t have the time to sit on hold. Let them know how long roughly the hold will be and stick to that. When you take them off hold, thank them for waiting.
Good phone etiquette at work is an important skill. It allows businesses to deliver better customer experiences and ultimately grow their business through these positive experiences.