Whether you choose a call center, virtual receptionist, live answering service, or to do it all in-house yourself, there are some phone etiquette lessons you need to know. Customer care isn’t just about answering the phone, or even listening. True customer care is about making the caller feel understood, appreciated, and valued, as well as instilling in them that they are in good hands and that they can trust your company.
So, instead of making common mistakes on the phone, read over our top 9 phone etiquette tips to wow your callers and impress your customers. Share this article with your team and practice with them for best results – or work with the experienced and expert team at Always Answer.
Two Rings is the Magic Number – Every Time
Perhaps you’ve heard that picking up the phone at the first ring is too fast – as it is unexpected and startles your caller. But did you know that three rings is too long and can frustrate your caller?
Picking up on the second ring is the perfect amount of time – not too fast, not too slow. It is the Goldie Locks of phone etiquette. Keep that in mind the next time your phone rings and you are either rushing or slowing to pick it up.
Positive Greetings Go A Long Way
Merely saying ‘hello’ isn’t going to cut it anymore with your customers. Instead, use a positive greeting – even something as simple as ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’ is perceived as friendlier than ‘hi’.
Some companies even have a longer, pleasant script, such as ‘it’s a great day at ___, how may I help you?’.
Your greeting fully depends on you, your company culture, and industry, but having some type of a positive greeting works in every situation.
Smile – They Can Hear It
Smiling can actually be heard over the phone, so even if your team isn’t feeling particularly joyful, pretend by putting a smile on your face. That way you will still sound pleasant and happy to your customers even if you don’t feel it.
An additional positive of this tip – when we smile our brains release more dopamine and serotonin, making us feel happier. So, yes, we smile when we are happy, but we also are happy when we smile!
Saying your name or the name of the company being called is a great opening for the start of a phone conversation.
Try something like ‘Good morning, this is ___ from ___. How may I direct your call?’ instead of ‘Hello, how can I help you’.
Just the addition of one or two personalized touches, like stating your name or reiterating that they’ve called the correct business by stating that name, seems much more thorough and polite.
Distance Matters – Two Fingers Away
No one wants a muffled voice answering the phone, so make sure your team is not holding the mouthpiece too close or too far from their mouth. About two fingers is the perfect distance for your caller to be able to hear you, but also to ensure optimal clarity and volume.
Ask Before Holds & Thank for Holding
This should be a commonly known etiquette tip, and yet it still goes ignored sometimes.
Always ask before putting someone on hold, or better yet, explain why the hold is necessary. Once you have returned (and make sure you always return) thank the caller for their patience and for holding.
No one likes being on hold, and everyone’s time is valuable, so acknowledging that is a great way to make your caller feel important and understood.
Explain Transfers Thoroughly
Following the lines of the above phone etiquette tip, explaining your transfers before you perform them is extremely important as well. Just because the caller isn’t on hold, doesn’t mean a transfer isn’t sometimes frustrating as well.
Explain the reason for the transfer, ask permission, check that the recipient is available, and then perform the transfer promptly for the most pleasant and polite experience for your customer.
Volume is Important
It was often taught to not speak too loudly into the phone, as yelling at your caller is never appropriate or polite but speaking too quietly is just as bad.
Find a comfortable medium that is neither too loud nor too quiet, so that your caller can hear you, but doesn’t feel spoken at or yelled at.
‘I Don’t Know’ is Never the Answer
Our final tip is that ‘I don’t know’ is always a no-no. This doesn’t mean you need to know everything in the world or have all the answers, instead, it means you should say ‘let me find that out for you’ or ‘may I put you on hold while I find that information?’.
There are many ways to state answers, make sure you are using the most polite, genial option every time. And always with a smile, accurate volume, explanations, and thanks.