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Phone Answering Tips


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With the increasing number of hours that we’re all working online, it can sometimes seem like an interruption to answer the phone. However, while it can feel like a chore to pick up a call when you’re entrenched in another task, it’s always smart to consider that every time the phone rings, it may be a new customer wanting to learn about what you have to offer. Thus, the phone should be considered as much of a marketing tool as your online presence or print collateral.

Once you begin to consider that the phone can reinforce your brand message and serve as a vital customer touch point, you are more likely to take calls with enthusiasm. And, by developing set standards for how calls are answered, you can begin impressing callers with consistent, on-brand communications that will support your sales and marketing efforts.

Answer Before the Third Ring
If this isn’t possible, make sure that calls are being routed swiftly to your voicemail system.

Use a Warm, Enthusiastic Tone
Your tone is the first impression callers will get from your business. If you’re sounding uninspired or rushed, they will pick up on it.

Identify Yourself
You never should have callers asking if they dialed the right number. When answering, clearly and slowly greet them, then identify your organization and yourself by name.

Watch Your Language
Slang, jargon and lazy vocabulary can send a clear message that you’re not focused on providing top-notch service. Watch out for words like “ok,” like,” and “you know,” and avoid fillers between your words such as “uh huh” and “um.”

Listen Carefully
Do you tend to multi-task while on calls? Callers deserve to be the focus of your attention while they’re on the phone with you. So, focus on the conversation that you’re having and not on your laptop, lunch or coworkers. If it’s a challenge to stay focused on callers, wear a Bluetooth headset and take notes on what they’re saying.

Take Accurate Messages
If you need to take a message for someone else, don’t hesitate to ask the caller to repeat important information or spell his/her name.

Don’t Use A Speakerphone
A speakerphone gives the impression that you’re not completely paying attention to the call. It also makes callers wonder who else is listening in. Speakerphones should be used solely for conferencing purposes. Otherwise, use a headset if you cannot hold the phone throughout the conversation.

Don’t Say “Please Hold”
Callers should always be asked if it’s all right to put them on hold. It shouldn’t be dictated to them as soon as the call is picked up. They should then receive updates every 30 seconds or so while holding as to when they’ll be able to speak to someone. In addition, they should be given the option to remain on hold or to have someone call them back.           

Return Calls within One Business Day
Promptness in returning calls is an extremely powerful way to present a positive brand image. The faster you can respond to a caller, the more likely you’ll get their business, solve their problem and make a positive impression.

Train Everyone Else
How are the phone skills of the others who pick up your business phone? Even if it’s your family members picking up your home office number, they need to know how to answer in a professional manner.

Sure, it’s great to have a fantastic website and a show-stopping brochure, but it’s just as important to present your company in the best possible way on the phone. So, by keeping your standards high for each and every call, you’ll provide just one more reason for your customers to buy from you.

Originally published Aug 19, 2010, updated Aug 12, 2020

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