Customer Service Phone Etiquette 101
It may seem odd to give a new employee phone etiquette training or to spend time making your own phone etiquette better. After all, everyone has at least a little experience answering the phone and making calls, right?
However, customers respond deeply to how they are treated on the phone, and without body language, there is a lot of room for misinterpretation. Plus, phone calls may become a mundane, rote task, which makes it hard to remember that how you act during calls is an essential part of good customer service.
Here are some customer service phone etiquette rules and tips that can help you get and keep more customers.
1. Speed Is Essential
It’s important to answer the phone call within three rings. People have short attention spans, and they don’t like to be kept waiting. This particularly true of new customers, who figure they can try one of your competitors if the phone rings for too long. It’s wise to have a phone that goes to voicemail after three rings to encourage people to leave a message so you can call them back to win their business.
A huge faux pas is to habitually let the call go to voicemail, only to return the call in a few minutes. People expect that if you are not answering their call, it’s because you’re busy doing something that can’t be interrupted. If you call back momentarily, the person may feel like you’re sitting at your desk, deciding not to answer.
2. Pronounce the Greeting Carefully, Every Time
While speed is important, people tend to overdo it when they start speaking. Many companies insist people use the same phrase when they answer the phone, like “Thank you for calling James’ Plumbing Service, how can I help you today?” As you repeat the phrase, you stop trying to pronounce each word, and it’s hard for listeners to understand. Don’t spit out the words so quickly that the person can’t understand what you’re saying. Focus on meaning what you’re saying, every time.
3. Actively Listen
For some businesses, you’ll handle almost all of your calls the same way. Maybe you’ll transfer over to the same person, or always put them on hold while you pull up the schedule. You get accustomed to the routine, and you may stop listening to what the person is saying. When there’s an exception, you might not catch it! So, it’s important to actively listen and be sure you understand what the caller needs.
4. Be Polite When Putting People On Hold
You will inevitably have to put people on hold, perhaps while you transfer them or while you pull up a schedule. Before you put customers on hold, ask them if they’re okay with it. Don’t tell them you’re putting them on hold, as this makes it seem like you’re taking the person’s time for granted. When you ask politely, almost everyone will grant their permission happily.
Most of phone etiquette is resisting complacency and remembering that the person on the other side is your customer, not someone to be taken for granted. Remember that and you’ll do fine.