Millions of phone calls are made every day and a good part of these are business related. Phone calls are an essential part of any thriving business. Therefore, it is important to know how to ensure that every business phone call you make or receive adds value to your client and company. There is no irrelevant business phone call, whether made or received. It is important to develop mastery of how to handle a business phone call profitably by learning the proper business phone call etiquette.
Let us look at the definition of a business phone call. A business phone call is any call made or received that is related to the products and/or services that a company offers, or related to any aspect of that corporate entity. This shows that a business phone call may be made or received outside work hours and outside the work environment.
Examples of business phone calls include answering an inquiry over the phone, handling a client’s complaint over the phone, taking an emergency leave over the phone, reminding a client of an overdue invoice over the phone, receiving a placement order over the phone, etc. No matter the business your company is into, phone calls can make your work smoother and more profitable.
Why is It Important to Have Good Business Phone Call Etiquette?
In a business environment, most phone calls come from or are made to customers and business partners. A lot of phone calls are also made among colleagues and between managers and junior employees. It is important that all employees, especially those handling phone calls, are trained on how to communicate with customers on the phone to ensure they do not present the company in a negative light or damage existing relationships.
Significant damage can be done to a company’s image and reputation if business phone calls are not handled with proper etiquette. Below are tips that can help you to handle business phone calls with professional etiquette.
Business Phone Call Etiquette Fundamental Tips
Here are a couple of tips to help you avoid violating the fundamental business phone call etiquettes.
Keep a Distance
Keep the phone at about 4cm from your mouth. This will help with the clarity of your voice over the phone. Avoid speaking too close to the phone mouthpiece (or microphone) when in a phone conversation.
Keep the Mouth Empty
Never place or answer a business phone call while eating or chewing anything. This is completely unprofessional and rude. It totally violates business phone call etiquette. It shows a lack of seriousness on the person’s part and is guaranteed to chase away potential clients. Swallow what you are eating quickly, if this is not feasible, you should spew it out before placing or picking that call.
Pick at the Second or Third Ring
When answering a business phone call, do not pick on the first ring. Pick the call after the phone has rung two or three times. Picking at the first ring may take the caller by surprise. He or she may not be expecting this. Also, do not allow it to ring for too long. Allowing it to ring for long gives an impression that your company is not serious with handling clients’ calls.
Start with a Polite Greeting
When you receive or place a business phone call, start with a polite greeting. For instance:
“Hello, Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”.
You do not need to add “Sir” or “Ma”. It may be difficult to ascertain the gender of the person on the line. Even if you know who you are calling, you may not be certain of who picked up the phone. A male may sound female and vice versa. Therefore to avoid offending anyone, just keep the salutation as stated.
When you receive or place a business phone call, after the opening greeting, introduce yourself by mentioning your name and the name of the company. You may say:
“Good Afternoon, my name is Andrew Johnson. This is Global Tours and Travels Limited”.
When placing a call, it is only after introducing yourself that you should request for or confirm the name of the person you called, if either is necessary.
Answer Calls with an Offer of Assistance
Since you may not know the purpose of a call you are receiving, it is important to ask how you may assist the caller. For example:
“Good Afternoon, my name is Andrew Johnson. This is Global Tours and Travels Limited. Please, how may I help you?”
“Hello, Good Morning, my name is Angel Baker. This is Leo International Farms, how may I assist you today?”
Smile While on the Phone
Smiling while on the phone helps to give your voice a pleasant tone. It helps you sound warm and friendly. When you attempt this the first time, you may feel awkward, but do not worry, just keep doing it and you will be comfortable with it eventually.
Do not rush when you speak. Speak slowly enough to the listener. Do not raise your voice unduly or speak too low. Keep your voice at a moderate volume. Pronounce words as clearly as possible and with your natural voice.
Do not Interrupt
Never interrupt a customer, especially those with bitter complaints. Interruptions are considered rude and unnecessary. Allow the person to express him or herself. If the person is taking too long on the phone, you may politely let the person be aware of this.
Keeping on Hold
As much as possible do not keep clients on hold. Especially when they are the ones making the call and your company number is not toll-free. However, if you must keep anyone on hold, it polite to seek permission before proceeding. While the person is on hold, check every 45 seconds to let the person know that you are still there. Show your appreciation for the person’s patience when you take them off hold.
Never sound pessimistic during any business phone call. Always be positive. When you are not sure of what to do or cannot be of help to a customer, still remain positive. For instance:
“Mr Grey, thank you for contacting us today, at present we do not have the phone you need, but there are other equally good models that I am sure you will find useful”.
Be Polite and Professional
Remain polite while talking to clients on the phone, no matter how they sound. Avoid argument at all cost. Be professional while speaking. Do not use slang, swear or vulgar words when on a business phone call. End all business phone calls politely. Do not just hang up the call. You may say:
“Thank you for calling, Mr. Grey, do have a lovely day” or “Thanks for your time Dr. Forte, it was a pleasure speaking with you”.
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In conclusion, you have probably seen how having proper business phone call etiquette will positively impact your organization across various functions. So, it is definitely worthwhile to imbibe these skills.
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.