When it comes to answering the phone, your employees are an extended voice, literally, of your brand. Your customer’s experience with that voice will ultimately impact what you have worked so hard to protect – your brand and their further interaction with it. That’s why it’s important to consider phone etiquette and techniques for each interaction over the phone.
It seems pretty basic to remember to answer the phone politely and cheerfully, avoid distractions in the background and speak clearly, but those can never be emphasized enough. That initial interaction should always include the person answering to start with a greeting, followed by their name and the company’s name and ask how they can be of assistance. It also means letting someone know they are being put on hold or being transferred to someone who might help them better. These basic reminders are usually the ones that are needed more than we realized, especially as text messaging and email become more common forms of communication without the same etiquette expectations.
Preparing one’s voice for a phone call means more than just clearing your throat. In fact, voice exercises can be helpful as well as recording, and then listening, to your own voice. Yes, it is something many of us don’t like to do, but it is, in fact, very helpful. Beyond the voice, how one sits or slouches, can impact how they speak. Let’s not forget the reminder to not chew gum or eat while on a call.
A good phone call experience also means the customer feels heard. That means your employee needs to listen fully to what is being said or even not being said. Even repeating the caller’s name, which should be asked for at the beginning, helps the customer feel at ease and heard.
As the call ends, it is important to thank the caller, let them know of any follow-up that will happen, and politely end the call. Even if the caller is agitated or frustrated, it is important for your employee to remain calm, confident, and reassuring. It doesn’t mean they have to have all the answers at that moment. It doesn’t mean they have to fix – or agree – to fix everything, but that reassuring, calm voice is important.
You may find that having employees practice their phone experience with others prior to taking that first or 50th call may be beneficial. Just as employees are trained on systems and procedures, it’s important to train them on how to conduct their phone calls and properly use their voice. Remember they are an extension of your brand that you have worked so hard to protect in other ways.