Telephones are an absolute saviour – even in today’s day and age where we have become increasingly mobile with instant messaging. But for most of us still, speaking over the telephone is still the fastest and most convenient way of getting the answers we need.
As a VA you’ll often find yourself being the first point of contact for clients – especially as a call answering service comes as standard with the nature of the job. To reinforce your natural confidence over the phone it’s a good idea to review our 11 most essential telephone etiquette tips to ensure you establish effective communication with every call:
Immediately (and warmly) introduce yourself upon answering
The first words that come out of your mouth needn’t be complicated. When the office phone rings ensure you answer with a polite greeting such as ‘Hello’ or ‘Good Morning/Afternoon,’ followed by a short introduction including your name, department (or business name) followed by a simple “how may I help you?”.
Only use speakerphone if necessary
Speaker phone can generally cause articulation issues – so it’s a good idea to only use this option if you’re arranging a group conference call. If you absolutely need to use speaker phone for any reason, ensure this is communicated to the receiver before doing so.
Remain calm, positive and friendly
If a client becomes frustrated it’s easy to see red. In these cases, it’s important to stay as calm as possible and retain a smile to keep the conversation positive. Ensure you convey that you’re focused on finding a solution to help the client in a timely manner.
Answer a call within 2 to 3 rings
Or the sooner the better. After 3 rings people are more likely to either put the phone down and try again later (if at all) or get frustrated that no one is picking up an important call. Do yourself the favour (and lessen the amount of voicemail you receive) and be prompt with answering calls to avoid any frustrations.
Speak clearly and properly
Avoid slang and idioms at all costs to ensure you retain a professional image when handling a large volume of calls. If you’re leaving a voice message, ensure you speak slow enough for the receiver to articulate your message and repeat your phone number twice at the end of the message.
Keep on top of voicemails
Missing a call isn’t the end of the world, but not keeping on top of voice messages can mean bad news for a business. Ensure you reply to voice messages within 24 hours.
Watch the volume (and tone)
This is especially important if you’re on the go and must answer a call. Ensure you monitor the volume of your voice to ensure you not only disturb others, but also prevent any risk of fraudsters catching on to sensitive business information.
Nerves can get the better of us and change our tone over the phone. To ensure you don’t come across anxious or rushed – sit up in your chair and maintain a smile to convey a positive tone of voice.
Be mindful of your language
Besides the obvious we also mean filler words like “um” or “uh” as this can come across as unprofessional. Fillers often stem from nerves, so when you do feel the urge, learn how to pre-plan transitions to the next topic or use 1-2 second pauses between sentences to compose yourself.
Be precise with your timing
We understand that some clients are friendlier than others and can often be quite ‘chatty’ – make sure you take an interest, but then focus on wrapping up the conversation by asking if there’s anything else you can help with and/or scheduling a new phone call.
Be open and honest if you don't know something
It’s perfectly fine not to have the answer to every question – if you state you will find out in a specific timeframe and will get back to them as soon as possible, this will suffice.
Use active listening skills and take notes
There’s nothing worse than missing something important. Take notes of all the key details that you can refer to later. With active listening you can also articulate a more actionable response to clients to make the whole conversation more efficient.
Learn more about Face for Business at https://ffb.co.uk/.
- 11 Essential Telephone Etiquette Tips for Your VA Business - January 22, 2019