Telephone Etiquette for Businesses – The Essential Rules

Something that is often overlooked though is irrefutably valuable to your business, is telephone etiquette. Something as seemingly inconsequential as the way that you answer the phone when talking to a customer, can have a significant influence on whether or not they will turn into a loyal, returning customer.


Yes, as the world of technology evolves, there are new and innovative ways of connecting with your customers (e.g., instant messenger via your website). However, phone-based customer services are very much here to stay. Thus, you should do all that you can to ensure that everyone representing your business is up to date with modern telephone etiquette for business. Let’s have a look at some of the essential rules. If you fail on a few of these, don’t panic! Just take it on board and adjust your approach in the future.


The Do’s of Telephone Etiquette in Business


1 – Always introduce yourself. Even today when caller ID is increasingly common, you must always state your name and the reason for your call. The same applies to inbound calls; the receiving operator should introduce themselves and the name of the company to save any confusion.


2 – Speaking is paramount when on the telephone, especially given the fact that body language can’t be relied on. You must enunciate your words and speak in a slow, clear voice. This is especially important for calls with foreign customers, or on a particularly poor connection.

In addition to that, your operators should know and understand the NATO phonetic alphabet (i.e., Alpha, Bravo, Charlie). This is invaluable when reading out postal codes or ZIPs with ‘Mike’ and ‘November’ in them, as those letters are all too easily confused.


3 – Listen to customer requests and take notes. It can be easy to get distracted on the phone when trying to multi-task, so you should always ask follow-up questions to clarify. For example, when they ask several questions, repeat them back to the customer and then proceed to help them with their enquiries. It is important to demonstrate that they have your undivided attention.


4 – Treat your callers as you’d like to be treated. It’s the simplest yet most effective approach to customer service: speak to them as you wish to be spoken to and afford them the appropriate respect. If you do this, then you should always have satisfied customers.


5 – When leaving voicemails, you need to speak slowly and clearly. Keep it short & sweet and don’t forget to tell them who you are, why you’re calling, and how they can contact you after receiving the message.


The Don’ts of Telephone Etiquette in Business


1 – Avoid being too casual when answering the phone. Certainly, there will be cases when you build a strong rapport with a client and you can be more relaxed. However, the rest of the time it is important to remain professional, clearly stating your name and company at the beginning.


2 – Don’t leave people on hold for too long. Would you like to be sat waiting for 10 minutes whilst your phone bill is skyrocketing? First, you should ask if it is OK to put a customer on hold. If it is taking longer than expected, check in regularly. Oh, and don’t forget to offer them a call-back if it’s more appropriate for them. It’s all about their convenience.


3 – Never speak with food in your mouth, or when chewing gum. This is incredibly unprofessional and should be treated with a zero-tolerance policy.


4 – Avoid slang language. Again, if you know the person on the phone personally and have a strong rapport then you can be more relaxed. However, for everyone else, you must always adopt the professional language. For example, swap ‘how’s it going?’ to ‘how are you today sir/madam?’; or ‘hold on a mo’, to ‘please wait a moment. Sure, most people might not even notice or be bothered by it, but it’s important to maintain a professional image in any case.


5 – Don’t shout! If the line isn’t particularly very good, shouting won’t necessarily mean that they will be able to hear you any better. Provided that you speak slowly and clearly, you shouldn’t have any issues hearing one another.

If your employees regularly complain about noise pollution in the office and are struggling to hear their customers on the phone, then you may wish to consider re-optimising your office layout.


A Friendly and Professional Answering Service


If your business is growing and you are getting to a point where you and your employees are struggling to keep up with a large influx of calls, then you may wish to consider outsourcing to a third-party company like OracleCMS. If you are struggling, then the standard of service will invariably drop. In this case, using a professional answering service with operators who are exceptionally well trained, will be the most viable option.


Our operators can represent your business using branded introductions, and following the appropriate steps laid out by you so that they can handle all enquiries with passion and precision. This means that you and your employees can worry less about the general day-to-day enquiries and focus your time on other important areas of your business.


If this is something that you would like to explore further—or if you’d like additional tips for training telephone etiquette for business—then please feel free to contact us today. One of our friendly operators will gladly point you in the right direction.

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