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Five telephone etiquette tips

03 May 2013, 18:36

Often companies spend hours training receptionists in the finer points of telephone etiquette, yet pay little attention to how the rest of the workforce answer calls or place callers on hold.

An understanding of basic telephone etiquette, however, is important for any member of staff who may be required to speak on the telephone.

Is your telephone etiquette up to scratch? If not, use the following five tips to help you brush up…

1.    Always state your name at the beginning of the call.
Sometimes when I phone a company the receptionist greets very nicely and professionally, but once the calls start getting transferred to different people all professionalism goes straight out the door.

Ensure that whenever you answer the phone, whether it’s an internal or external call, you state your name right up front.

In addition to this you should say your name at the very end of your sentence for a better chance of the caller hearing and remembering it. E.g. “Thank you for calling Staff Training, you’re speaking to Matt.”

2.    Smile.
To improve your greeting and tone, try smiling when you say it. Callers are able to hear when you’re having a good day just as they can tell when you’re having a bad one.

Also take note of your tone of voice, volume level and posture when speaking on the phone.

3.    Give the caller your full attention.
When speaking to someone on the telephone you should always give your full and undivided attention. This includes fidgeting with papers (which is often very noisy on the other end of the line), eating, drinking, and talking with people in the office…

4.    Place callers on hold professionally.
When you need to place a caller on hold (which is the correct procedure when you need to find out more information etc.), always ensure that it is done in a courteous manner.

This being said you should always first ask yourself if placing the caller on hold is the best option. Will you be away from the phone for more than 60 seconds?

Has the caller been on hold already? If you answer yes to either of these questions you should rather take the caller’s number and return the call at a convenient time.

If you haven’t answered yes then the first thing to do is explain to the caller the reason you will be putting them on hold – but do not interrupt the caller to state this.

When you return to the call apologise for having the caller wait, or if you have not resolved the issue, take the caller’s number and return the call at an agreed upon time.

5.    Use the caller’s name.
If the caller doesn’t tell you his or her name at the beginning of the call, ask for it. Then use it.

Using the caller’s name during the phone call adds a personal connection and helps the caller feel like the person fielding his or her call really wants to help.

- Staff Training

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