The ‘Answer it’ top 10 Telephone Tips
We all use so many technical devices these days, from SMS to Email, Twitter to Linked In, but nothing beats a conversation using the good old fashioned telephone. When it is in the hands of an image conscious professional nothing beats it for communication.
1.) Always answer the phone with a smile, it can be ‘heard’ by the caller
2.) Remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ being kind and polite goes a long way.
3.) Try and use ‘How may I help’ rather than ‘How can I help.’ Sometimes ‘can’ is misunderstood or said in such a tone of voice that it comes across negatively. i.e ‘How can I help’ can be heard as ‘What can I do about it…’ with a shrug for good measure.
4.) Always speak clearly and slowly when identifying yourself, especially if you are prone to speaking quickly or if you have a broad accent.
5.) If you have to use a speakerphone don’t forget to
a) Let the caller know they are on speaker
b) Identify everyone in the room
c) Make the purpose of them being in the room clear.
6.) When calling outbound be aware that the person you are calling might be entrenched in another task and totally unprepared for your call. If they sound distracted, simply ask if they would prefer you to call at a more convenient time for them.
7.) When taking a message for someone it is preferable to say “I’m sorry ‘Jane’ is unavailable at the moment may I have her call you back”
a) “Jane’s not in, I’ll have to take a message” – the have makes it sound like an inconvenient chore and does the caller need to know that Jane is out?
b) “Jane’s at lunch. Can I take a message” – the caller might be thinking ‘that’s a funny time to be at lunch’ and it is irrelevant whether Jane is in a meeting at lunch or in the bathroom.
c) “Jane should be back soon. Could I have her call you in 15 minutes” – Jane might not be back ‘soon,’ your promise of 15 minutes could easily be broken. Leaving the caller with a bad impression.
8.) If you are in the situation when you have a person in front of you and the phone rings, make sure you give the person who has made the effort to turn up in person your full attention. If you turn your attention to the phone the person who has made a special trip to see you will feel very put out and unimportant. They might wonder why they bothered.
9.) Never ask a caller to try again later. It gives the impression you are too lazy, apathetic or just plain disorganised to take a message.
10.) Always ask the caller the phone number it would be best to be reached on if they have to be called back. Even if the caller belives the person they are calling for has their number ask them to leave it just in case.
Don’t forget you never get a second chance to make a 1st impression.
In addition to these tips always make sure you have a pen and paper to hand and, crucially if you have taken a message for a colleague, please remember to pass them the message!
Alternatively if this is eating into your time management and all sounds like a lot of hard work, and too much to remember let the professional answering service, Answer it (www.answer-it.co.uk) take the strain.
© Emma Fryer 2009 Updated 2011