8 Proven Telephone Answering Tips to Start Using Today
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It's one of my favorite quotes by Will Rogers. It applies to all interactions we have with customers. Especially when it comes to the telephone answering techniques you use in your business.
It's critical for everyone in an organization to understand what makes a great call. Here are some tips to make sure your callers experience the 'wow factor' the next time they call.
Answer with a Smile
It's important to get off on the right foot when answering the phone. The best way to do this is with a smile. The tone of the human voice changes when smiling.
It is readily perceivable to the caller and it sets the tone for the rest of the call. It's been proven that a smile puts the caller at ease. Their mood then matches that of the person who answered the phone for the duration of the call.
Use a Professional Greeting
Answering the phone with just your company name is not going to cut it. Start the call off with (a smile in your voice) and use welcoming phrases that sound professional.
Use opening phrases like:
- 'Good morning'
- 'Good Afternoon'
- 'Thank you for calling...'
After the answer phrase, include your company and name. If your company is on the larger side, let the caller know which department they've reached.
Depending, on if the call was transferred to you, adding a 'how can I help you?' at the end of the answer phrase is a nice touch. It also helps to identify the caller's need.
Mind Your Manners
“I was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.” - Author Unknown
It seems simple but it is worth reminding. Always be polite regardless of who is on the other end of the phone. Treating others with respect and dignity is what sets best companies apart.
Make sure you say please and thank you. At our call center, we strive for at least two pleases and a thank you on every call.
Kindness and manners never go out of style.
Listen Like a Ninja
Give your caller 100% of your focus. Multitasking isn't as beneficial as you might believe. Worse yet, the caller knows if you are not fully present on the call. It can send the message that their needs are unimportant to you.
If you need to take notes or look something up on the call, let the caller know that you'll be typing. This way, if they hear you typing on your keyboard, they won't think you're checking in on your fantasy football team.
In short, give each call your undivided attention.
Lose the Buzzwords and Acronyms
In every industry, we have our own language of buzzwords and acronyms. For internal communication using these are certainly OK and save us time.
In the real world using these with your caller can lead to confusion. Worse yet, they may even feel like they are being talked down to.
Try to phrase things from the caller's perspective and lose the BS.
For example, instead of saying this:
“This product will empower agility and demonstrate game-changing performance."
Say something like this:
“This product will help you do great things faster and better.
How to Put Callers on Hold
It is inevitable that, at some point, you will need to place callers on hold. How you do it makes a huge difference to the caller.
Putting Callers on Hold: Do's
- Ask the caller if they would mind if you placed them on hold. Wait for a response from the caller that they are OK with being put on hold.
- When returning to the caller, always thank them for waiting.
- Acknowledge the length of time they were on hold. Most phone systems will tell you how long the caller has been waiting. Empathizing with the caller is always a good thing.
Putting Callers on Hold: Don'ts:
- Never ask if someone can hold and put your hand over the receiver. It's unprofessional and regardless what you might think, the caller can hear you anyways.
- Never answer the phone then immediately put the caller on hold. Even if you say, "Thank you for calling Wayne Enterprises, please hold."
- Never allow a work colleague to interrupt your phone conversation. Doing so sends the wrong message. Put the customer first, above all else.
Empathize with the Caller
“We are all united by one single desire to be valued by another.” – Dale Carnegie
Callers are naturally comforted when they are shown empathy. They may be frustrated with the situation that they find themselves in. Perhaps, they are just having a bad day. Whatever the reason, empathy goes a long way to turning the caller’s experience into a positive one.
Examples of phrases that show empathy to callers:
- “I’m sorry to hear that! I can see how that would be frustrating. Let me see how I can help you.”
- “I want to make sure that I really understand what you are saying. I am hearing that you…”
- “I am going to help you get this issue resolved”
- “I know how frustrating it can be. Let’s see how I can help you...”
The Reassuring Close
Just as the beginning of the call is important, the ending ranks right up there in importance. At the conclusion to the call, giving the caller reassurance that their needs will be met is the perfect bookend to a great caller experience.
A tried and true closing phrase which you can modify for your business is:
“Is there anything else I can help you with today, [caller name]?” If not, always thank the caller for calling. It's a simple phrase to end each call on a high note.
About Aaron Boatin
Aaron Boatin is President of Ambs Call Center, a virtual receptionist and telephone answering service provider. His passion is helping clients' businesses succeed. Melding high tech with high touch to provide the best customer service experience for clients is his core focus.