Following its invention during the late 1800s, the telephone became an integral component in business operations. Despite all the technological advancements brought about since that time, the phone still holds its own in the business world. Voice-to-voice communication is – such as face-to-face communication – just faster, simpler, and more personable than the alternatives in some cases. Using proper telephone etiquette, though, could make a world of difference in the outcome of a business call.
Send the Right Message
Business calls require a balance of professionalism, amiability, and common courtesy. Finding such a balance isn’t always easy, but it’s essential. As a general rule, the phone shouldn’t ring more than three times before being answered or the person on the other end of the line may feel the call isn’t as important to you as it is to him or her. At the same time, picking up immediately has a way of catching a caller off guard. From there, attitude and technique are everything.
Smile before Answering
Though the person to whom you’re speaking can’t see you during a traditional call, he or she can usually sense your disposition. Whether your heart is in the smile or not, it’ll change the tone of your voice to a more pleasant one.
Names are Important
We’re all individuals, and we like to be treated as such rather than just another sale or business opportunity. If the caller or callee doesn’t offer an introduction during initial contact, ask for a name. Remembering this identity for future reference is equally critical.
Use Your Voice
Speak clearly and somewhat slowly while holding the phone approximately two inches from your mouth. Any farther away would leave the other person straining to hear you whereas holding the phone closer tends to make voices more garbled. Speed-talking is equally counterproductive.
Give Appropriate Answers
In the midst of a business call, the phrase “I don’t know” shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary. It’s unprofessional and off-putting to the person on the other side of the conversation. If you don’t have an answer, say something to the effect of “Let me look into it” or “I’ll check on that.“
Avoid Lengthy Holding Patterns
No one likes to be put on hold during a call, but it’s sometimes unavoidable. Should it become necessary, be sure to ask if it’s okay with the other person. If you expect to be otherwise engaged for a considerable amount of time, it’s better to ask for a phone number and call back the other person later. In the event you realize mid-hold you’ll be held up longer than anticipated, check back in to let your conversation partner know you’ve not forgotten about him or her and follow callback protocol.
Break the Vicious Cycle
Getting the runaround on the phone may very well be the most irritating aspect of calling. Never transfer someone without a courteous explanation, do your best to ensure you’re transferring to the appropriate party, and always be sure the person you’re transferring to is available for conversation.
Politeness is Essential
Always be polite to the person to whom you’re speaking even if he or she isn’t returning the favor. Choose your words carefully. You’ll inevitably run across people who take everything you say as an insult but do your best to keep things on a diplomatic level.
Conclusions are Crucial
End every call with a pleasantry, such as “thank you for your call” or “have a great day.” Don’t hang up until you’re sure the other person has nothing else to say.
As an added hint, keep your purpose in mind. Business is increasingly making its way into the home, and that can be a precarious scenario on occasion. Helping the kids with their homework or yelling at the dog and cat to stop fighting during this type of call isn’t exactly conducive to a business environment. If necessary, find a quiet room away from commotion and distractions to conduct phone calls.
At times, doing business over the phone can be easier and more productive than communicating via text or email. It also brings a more personal touch to an increasingly digital world. Though the benefits of vocal interaction are many, lacking proper phone etiquette could hamper productivity.