You might not think that talking on the phone is still important in this age of business, but it is. In fact, 68% of people still contact customer service by phone first and if you aren’t ready to take their calls, you’ll lose leads.
However, that’s not enough. If you have bad phone etiquette, you’ll do more harm to the relationship than good.
Make sure you’re at the top of your game with these 7 tips!
1. Always Pick Up the Phone
We know it sounds obvious, but you need to answer every call, every time.
Failure to answer the phone will dramatically affect your customer service quality. The average caller will hang up if a call is not answered after five to six rings.
So, as a rule, ensure that your calls are consistently answered. When a call comes through, it shouldn’t be allowed to ring more than three times. Prompt answering shows that you are ready to give them high-quality service.
Once you answer the phone, have a positive greeting for the caller. For example, “Thank you for calling XYZ. How may I assist you?” Get to know the name of the caller. Once you know their name, use it during the course of your call. “It is the one way we can easily get someone’s attention,” says The Washington Post. “It is a sign of courtesy and a way of recognizing them. When someone remembers our name after meeting us, we feel respected and more important. It makes a positive and lasting impression on us.”
This makes the call more personalized, which is a good thing. From the start of the conversation make the person feel comfortable talking to you.
2. Watch Your Tone
During a phone call, the person you’re talking to cannot look at your facial expression or body language to tell your mood. On a call, your tone informs your caller of your state of mind. Tone makes up 84% of the message of a phone call, as we’ve reported.
Your tone should be polite and clear so that your caller understands what you are saying. Your tone, however, doesn’t have to be too excited. Doing so might come off as if you are faking it. Keep it simple! Let the caller know that you are happy with the business they are giving you and are more than happy to assist with their queries.
3. Practice Active Listening
A call may come through when you have a lot on your desk. Proper phone etiquette dictates that you stop doing whatever it is you are working on and concentrate on assisting the caller. If you don’t do this, you may be distracted and not offer proper help. Even worse, a caller can tell if you’re not listening, which leads to them feeling undervalued.
When a call comes in, practice active listening. Take notes, ask questions and respond with affirmations that you’re paying attention. Remember, people don’t want to stay on the phone for long. They want to be done as quickly as possible. Active listening can help you deal with concerns on the first attempt and wrap-up a call quickly.
4. Ask the Caller Before You Put Them on Hold
Putting a caller on hold immediately after answering the phone happens a lot. Businesses do this when swamped with calls, but nothing is more frustrating for customers! When you put someone on hold at the start of their call, you can almost guarantee that you’re losing their business.
So, if you want to keep your customers, don’t put them on hold even before they talk to you. Instead, follow the previously listed steps. Greet them with a positive message, ask how you can assist them and if you need to consult before giving an answer, explain to them that you need to put them on hold to get more information.
If you’re to put the customer on hold for more than a minute, check back with them periodically. This will ensure that they don’t feel like you have forgotten about them. Another option would be to connect them with someone else if you are too busy to properly address their concerns. If you don’t handle this properly, they might just hang up and never call back.
5. End the Call Courteously
Whether you helped the caller with their issue or not, make time to end the call properly. Again, you should do this in a warm and polite manner. You want the customer to call you again for business, so how you finish the call will determine whether there are any future interactions.
Don’t be in a rush to get off the phone with them. Ask them if there is something else you can do for them. If they are satisfied, thank them for calling and wish them a good day. Let the customer hang up first.
6. Be Honest With Your Caller
This can sound like one of the most obvious pieces of advice possible, but being honest is vital, though also easily forgotten. This doesn’t make you a bad person. You might just be trying not to sound uninformed if you are asked a question and do not know the answer. Never guess or make it up.
A good way to practice honesty if you are asked something and you simply don’t know the answer is to tell them you don’t know, but also what you are going to do about it. This is above and beyond simple phone etiquette, and it shows that you are willing to take the time to get them the correct answer. It also shows that you are trustworthy.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that, do you mind if I check with my colleague and call you back shortly?”
This is a far better approach to take than making up an answer or giving inaccurate information. Customers are likely to appreciate and remember it, especially if you quickly follow up with the correct information.
7. Go Above and Beyond The Call of Duty
This sounds like abstract advice. Depending on the type of business you are involved in, and the type of calls you are taking, this can take many different shapes as you try to make your customers happy. Not just happy enough, but ecstatic, so that a memory of your service is etched into their brain.
Has a customer called with a complaint? Don’t just fix the issue, go further. Firstly, give the solution they are looking for. If you are in a position to resolve the complaint, do so quickly and efficiently, and then consider other ways in which you can help them. Perhaps you can provide a discount by way of apology or other financial remunerations. If not, there may be other ways to turn the negative experience into a positive one.
Imagine a customer in a restaurant, who calls to say they were not happy with their meal or service. If you are the owner and you decide to give them a refund, it may deal with the problem, but it doesn’t create a positive experience. There is every chance they will never come back. Why not provide them with a discount for their next order or even the chance to eat there again for free? By going above and beyond, and creating a positive customer experience, you can avoid that particular customer deciding not to give you their business again.
Make the Best Call
Delivering a positive lasting phone experience is not rocket science. However, you never have a second opportunity to make a good first impression. So if you want to leave a good and lasting first impression on callers, you have to practice excellent phone etiquette and call answering customer service.
Give your customers the attention they deserve on calls! If this sounds overwhelming or even impossible for your business, consider outsourcing your calls to a virtual receptionist service like Nexa Receptionists. Our team is trained in multiple industries, and displays professionalism and attentiveness at all times. To find out more about the excellent service Nexa Receptionists can offer to your customers, read on here.
FAQs About Customer Service Phone Etiquette
Why is a Lasting Impression Important?
According to Microsoft’s 2017 “Global State of Customer Service” report, 96% of consumers say that customer service is important in their loyalty to a brand. For most services and products, it is easier than ever for a customer to go elsewhere, and one of the ways you can ensure they don’t is to prove to customers you have their best interests at heart. Good phone etiquette and proper actions behind it will help to achieve this.
Can Virtual Receptionist Services Give a Personalized Service?
It is easy to think that virtual receptionists just give a generic and impersonal service, but Nexa’s receptionists are trained in the best ways to answer the phone and give the best possible service. On top of this, we work with you to create an answering script, establishing how best to deal with customer complaints or other areas of customer service, and create the best impression for your business.
If you have a specific way you want the phone to be answered or receptionists to deal with your customers, we are able to accommodate this and ensure that customers are kept happy every time.
How Can Customer Satisfaction Be Measured?
The best way to measure customer satisfaction is to get them to take a questionnaire or leave feedback on how they feel like their call was handled. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t really have the time to do this. The best way to measure satisfaction in this case can be a simple scoring system. At Nexa, we request a score from 1-3 after calls in order to measure how satisfied a customer is with the service.