Business communication takes on all sorts of forms, such as email, video chats, snail mail, and even texting in some cases! With all the options out there these days one form of communication is here to stay: phone calls.
Over the years of working with our clients to help them choose the best phone system for their needs, we’ve picked up some etiquette tips to help your business shine no matter who you’re communicating with. These tips are applicable whether you have a legacy system or the newest phone system on the market, a VoIP system or premise based one, or if you just use your cell phone to conduct business.
Here are our best 8 tips for small business phone etiquette:
1. Introduce Your Business
Callers want to know they’ve reached the correct business. Keep your introduction brief, but make sure to introduce yourself and/or your company.
2. Listen to the Caller
People want to be heard. Make sure that you are listening to your caller, repeating things back to them, and making them feel understood. Even if you can’t resolve the issue, or resolve it in the way they had hoped for, having a client who feels understood will go a long way.
3. Know Your Phone System
Make sure you know how to hold a call, transfer, etc. It comes off more professional and it gets the caller what they need faster. A good business phone company should offer a thorough training (more than once, if necessary) and have resources available to you such as video tutorials or reference guides.
4. Keep the Caller Up-to-Date
If you have to transfer them to someone else or another division of your company let them know that and why you’re doing it. Give them an estimate of how much time it will take to get them connected to someone else. If someone is unavailable let them know that and ask if they’d like to be transferred to their voicemail.
5. Return Phone Calls When Promised
When you tell someone you’re going to call them back, make sure you do it! It is understandable that people are not available all the time, or that you may need to time to go get them the answers they need, but not returning a phone call makes you and your business look bad.
6. Speak Clearly and Slowly
No, you don’t need to speak at a snail’s pace, but make sure you are speaking at a rate that makes it easy for people to make out what you are saying. Stop eating or spit out gum before you answer or make a call.
7. Never Say “I Don’t Know”
You don’t have to know all the answers, and no one expects you to. But it’s still not what your caller wants to hear! Telling someone you don’t know the answer to their question implies that they cannot be helped. Instead, let them know that you’ll find out or you’ll look into the answer or that you’ll connect them to a person who does know.
8. End on a Positive Note
It doesn’t matter if the conversation went smoothly or not, you should always try to end your phone calls on a good note. Thank them for calling or tell them to have a great day. Let them know you appreciate their patience. But make sure it sounds genuine! Even though they can’t see your face, callers can tell through the sound of your voice if you’re being disingenuous.
Small business owners and employees will interact with all kind of people on the phone: vendors, current and potential clients, sales people, etc. A phone call will often be the first interaction someone has with your business , and following these simple tips can help make a positive, lasting impression.