Though nowadays there are numerous channels that are used for communicating with customers and running a business, the telephone still remains relevant. Mastering how to answer business phone calls professionally is vital for providing effective customer services. Observing standard business etiquette and professional practices are essential for having a thriving business. Therefore, business phones calls must be handled professionally using these standard etiquettes to gain and retain customers, build your company’s reputation and grow your business.
12 Relevant Tips for Answering Business Phone Calls
Let us look at relevant tips for answering business phone calls professionally. One thing one must bear in mind is that the client called first, never forget this fact. Even if your telephone number is toll-free, the customer took the initiative and is spending his time on the phone. This is even more sensitive if your telephone number is not toll-free. Therefore, everything you say must count.
There is no room for wasted words or unnecessary silence.
1. Answer at the Second Ring
Do not pick the call too quickly; do not delay in picking it also. Pick at the second ring. Picking too quickly may take the client by surprise or unprepared while delaying to pick is not polite. Delaying to answer your business phone calls also makes your company look unserious or lazy. It is even worse if the customer has to call again immediately after he receives no answer the first time.
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2. Answer with a Smile on Your Face
Yes, the customer cannot see you, but it will reflect in your voice. The expression will help you sound pleasant on the phone. This simple pleasantness can determine a lot for your company. It builds the client’s faith in your company and creates a positive expectation of what your company is capable of doing.
3. Greet Appropriately and Tactfully
Start your conversation with a formal greeting. Do not say “Good afternoon” or “Good morning”. Why? Time zones! If you do not expect clients from different time zones to call, then you may do this. However, it is best to just say “Hello”. Also, avoid using “Sir” or “Ma”. Why? First, you may not be able to ascertain if you are speaking to a man, woman or even a child. Some male clients can be put off if you call them “Ma”, just because they sound feminine on phone. The same goes for the ladies.
4. Confirm Your Company’s Name
You would have noticed that when you call the customer service line of some companies, the customer care officer may first say something like: “Hello, this Global Laundry Ventures, how may I help you?” The reason for mentioning the company name is to assure the client that he has called the right place and should expect his queries to be answered accordingly.
5. Confirm Your Own Name
The customer service person who picked the phone should introduce himself after mentioning the company’s name. This is professional, besides, he needs to ask the client his name, therefore, it is appropriate he mentions his first. The customer also needs that connection on first name basis. Yes, only your first name is necessary when answering business phone calls.
6. Confirm the Customer’s Name and Location
The next thing is to ask the client his name and location politely. You may say: “Hello, this is Global Laundry Ventures, my name is Esther, please may I know your name and where you are calling from?” Or “Hello, this is Global Laundry Ventures, my name is Esther, please may I know your name?” You will later ask the client his location after he has made his inquiry.
7. Speak fluently and Professionally
You will need to learn to pronounce every word properly. If it is possible, clear up your accent. Provided that the phone network is good, you should not make the customer ask you to repeat what you had said. Your conversation should be as smooth as possible. It should also be devoid of slangs or informal words or phrases, or sounds like “uh-huh”, “hmm” or “eh”.
In as much as your conversation should be friendly, it should be professional. So, your first statement should be something like: “Hello, this is Global Ventures, my name is Esther, please may I know your name”? After the client responds: “My name is Omar Franks”, the next thing to say would be: “How may I help you, Omar?”
8. Be Empathic
Show care and concern in your conversation. Let the customer feel relaxed and know you genuinely care. This is an area every call handler needs to master. You can win loyal customers with this simple act. We live in a world where people are so selfish or self-centered, so when a client can sense sincere concern and care in your voice, you create an impression that will stick to his mind. Everyone wants to be cared for.
9. Provide Realistic Answers
If the client has a complaint or is making an inquiry, do your best to satisfy this need. However, do not promise or commit your company to what you cannot handle just to please the customer. Be realistic about what you can do. You can be sure you will lose a client you disappoint in this way.
10. Remain Optimistic
Even if your company cannot help the client, do not say: “Sorry, we cannot help you, this is a laundry service, not a supermarket”. You have disqualified yourself from the client’s list of companies he will patronize in the future. When you cannot be of help to a customer, you should apologize for this. Then, ask if you can be of help in any other way.
Actually, you are tactfully marketing your products or services. You may say: “I am so sorry Omar, we are unable to be of help to you at this time, we provide laundry services only…is there any other way we can be of help to you?” Your sheer courtesy may just encourage the caller to patronize you, even though this was not his original intention.
11. Keeping the Client on Hold
This should never happen. Remember, if your phone number is not toll-free, the client’s phone bill would be going up. Therefore, as much as it is possible, do not keep the client on hold. We will address how to keep clients on hold in another article. There are times that it is inevitable.
12. End the Call Properly
Let the customer be the one to take the initiative to end the call. However, you may discreetly say a thing or two to suggest that the call should be ended when it is apparent that there is nothing more to be said. For example: “Do you have any other question for me Omar?” Or “Are you satisfied with the answers I have provided?” If the client is ready to drop the call, ensure you thank him for calling before he drops the call. You may say: “Thank you, Omar, for calling Global Laundry Ventures”.
You may have heard some customer care agents say “Have a nice day” shortly before you drop the call. This is okay provided you are sure that it is daytime in the time zone of the caller. Finally, always allow the client to be the one to drop the call.
Deciding the right phrase to handle different situations can be very tasking. As a correspondent, you are directly involved in critical day-to-day interactions via email. This makes your ability to craft good email messages, using the perfect phrases and clauses, tangential to your business success.
There is a book by Meryl Runion that will help you to a great extent:
Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals: Hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for getting respect, recognition, and results in today’s workplace
Overall, this book will greatly improve your communication skills. It will also help you easily clarify assignments with your manager or projects with your clients as well as guide you in handling the inevitable complaints that sometimes follow sales of products or services.