The telephone is a primary communication link in today’s business world. To be successful, you must be able to communicate effectively by telephone. The telephone can be the first or only communication you have with a customer or business contact. As a result, good telephone skills are essential at every level of an organization.
The Basics of telephone skills.
Basic telephone skills are imperative to the success of a business call. It will enhance the telephone experience for both you and your customers.
• Greeting a caller
As you greet callers, you should make them pleased that they chose to do business with your company. The first 30 seconds determines what kind of impression you will make with callers. Your goal is to impress them with your knowledge, ability, helpfulness, and courtesy.
There are four steps you should take to properly greet callers:
First, open the call with a polite greeting, such as ”Good morning” or ”Good afternoon.” Second, state the name of your company so callers know they have reached their intended call location. Next, you should state your name. Doing so helps you begin to establish a relationship with callers, which will make them feel more comfortable about doing business with you. Finally, offer your assistance through phrases such as ”How may I assist you?” or ”With whom would you like to be connected?” These steps show callers that they have your full attention, that they have connected with a ”live” person, and that you are pleased to assist them.
• Answering questions
Another important telephone skill is answering questions. To do so successfully, you must ensure that you clearly understand the needs of the callers. Then, you should answer their questions promptly and efficiently.
If you do not know what information a caller needs, use clarifying questions to identify exactly what information he or she wants. This action will help ensure that you transfer the caller to the person best suited to assist him or her.
• Listening to concerns
Listening to concerns during telephone interactions is another important skill you should learn. Callers need to know that you are paying attention when they have a concern or a problem. Use verbal cues such as ”yes” and ”I understand” to signal that you are listening to what callers are saying. These cues replace the visual signals of a face-to-face interaction.
• Troubleshooting difficult calls
Since you may have to speak with upset callers, you should know the techniques you can use to troubleshoot a difficult call. To help diffuse the situation, listen actively and allow the caller to ”vent” his or her feelings without interruption. Then check your understanding by paraphrasing the caller’s complaint in a calm manner.
After you are sure you understand the complaint, acknowledge the caller’s concerns and show empathy with his or her point of view. Throughout the call, use positive words such as ”I will,” ”we can,” and ”yes” and remember that your goal is to find a solution to the problem or to negotiate a compromise.
• Screening calls
Another telephone skill that requires careful execution is screening calls. Screening calls requires a clear understanding of who you are screening for and why you are doing so. Once the purpose is established, you can use one of three techniques to properly screen calls. One technique is to take a message and set up a time for a return call. Another technique is to handle the call yourself. A final screening technique is to ask the caller to send information. This technique is frequently used for unsolicited sales calls.
• Taking messages
Taking messages is another basic telephone skill you need to know. Effective messages require you to gather all of the information needed so the recipient clearly understands the nature of the call and what action he or she needs to take to respond effectively to the caller. Even if the caller does not want to elaborate, be sure to obtain his or her full name, telephone number, and the purpose of the call.
• Holding calls
When you need to place a caller on hold, you should follow several actions. Ask the caller for permission to put him or her on hold and wait for a response. When you return to the caller, offer a brief explanation, and then thank him or her for holding. When putting callers on hold, keep in mind that an acceptable call hold time is 20 to 30 seconds.
• Transferring calls
Another important telephone skill is knowing how to smoothly, efficiently, and courteously transfer calls. You can minimize frustration by following a few simple steps. First, determine ahead of time who should receive various types of calls so you know how calls should be transferred. Next, avoid ”dead-end” transfers by remaining with the caller until the call has been connected.
• Completing a call
After you meet the customer’s needs, you are ready to complete the call. Summarize the conversation by letting the caller know what actions you will be taking and when they can expect the anticipated results. Additionally, thank the caller for his or her time.