The Way You Answer your Phone Might Benefit
or Harm Your Business Relations
We all know some basic telephone etiquette and that we have to answer the phone with a smile, but answering your business phone with a friendly “hi” or “hallo” is certainly not the correct way to do it – not if you are a Virtual Assistant and serious about the professional image you want to portray to your customers.
Whether you have a dedicated business telephone line or making use of your home telephone for business, first impressions when answering the phone count – why not make a good first impression. Although you might still be in your pyjamas when answering a call, the caller will not see you, but he will hear your voice and words… and that counts.
It is sad, but it often happens that when people start working from home, they drop all professionalism and just plod on. It surely doesn’t need to be that way. Don’t throw telephone etiquette out of the window, just because you work from home.
When last did you review the way you sound on the phone?
When last did you review the way you do call answering services for your clients?
Remember that as a Professional Virtual Assistant the telephone is not just a communication tool; it is also the image projector of your business.
When I heard the following quote: “Too many people begin talking before they have something to say” …I realized it is so true especially about telephone etiquette. Don’t answer your business phone before you have decided how you are going to do it.
Tip: Before you answer your first business call as a Virtual Assistant, decide on a name for your business. Use it to answer the phone. It makes a world of difference about how you see your business and helps to project a professional image to your clients.
10 Easy Telephone Etiquette Rules
Whether you are answering your own business phone or handlingcall answering services for a client, the under mentioned telephone etiquette techniques and tips are important to ensure professionalism.
1. Answer with a Smile
Although this is an age-old tip, it really works. Make sure you speak clearly and are smiling as you answer the phone; also identify yourself.
A professional way to answer the phone might be: “Be Virtual Assistant Wise good morning, Marietjie speaking“. You may also add “…how may I assist you”.
Make sure you are comfortable with the way you answer the phone and answer it (landline as well as your cell phone) between normal business hours by using your professional script.
If you allow family members to answer the phone on your behalf during office hours, inform them of the way you want it done.
2. Answer Quickly
As a general rule of thumb, a business telephone should be answered by the fourth ring, preferably sooner. If the telephone rings so long that the caller wonders whether they’ve dialled the correct number, you are not practising telephone etiquette.
Be prompt in answering the phone, be warm and enthusiastic and treat each call as if it is the most important call of the day. Don’t become distracted by e-mail popping up on your computer screen or household activities … pay full attention to the caller.
3. No Speaker Phone
Do not use a speaker phone. Although a speaker phone might be very convenient, your client may not think so as speakerphones tend to pick up every background noise. This may give your customer the impression that you are not focussing on what they say.
Speakerphones sometime also have an acoustic background effect where the caller hears a repeat of his discussion (much the same as with some long distance/international calls) that can be very distracting.
4. No Slang language.
Control your language when answering the phone and train yourself carefully not to use slang when speaking on the phone. Slang language will definitely cause potential clients to think twice about working with you. Use words such as “certainly or all right” instead of “OK” and try to avoid “uh huh” or “um” or “you know”.
5. Use a Professional Voice Message
If you make use of an answering machine or services ensure that you have a professional message, which include your name and business name, recorded. Write down what you want to say and practise it a few times before you do the recording.
Update your message regularly, especially when you are going away on vacation or for a certain period of time.
It is important to returns calls the same day they were received. If you are going to be “out of office” until after normal working hours, update your recording and tell clients that you will only be able to return their calls by the next morning. It may seem like a lot of extra work but it is good telephone etiquette and you never know when that all important call might come.
6. No Hold
Never ever put a business caller on hold. It is bad telephone etiquette when you’re busy with a client to put them on hold, especially for a personal call. If you have to do it (for what-ever reason), first ask their permission and get back to them as soon as possible.
7. No Eating or Chewing
Don’t eat, drink or chew gum when talking on the phone. Aside from being very rude, these sounds become magnified over the phone. It can also make your words difficult for callers to understand.
Try also not to cough, sneeze or clear your throat into the phone. If it so happens that you must sneeze or cough, move the mouthpiece away and cover it with your hand.
8. Take Complete Messages
When doing call answering for a client, make sure to take messages completely and accurately. If there is something you do not understand, or cannot spell, such as the person’s name or surname, ask the caller to spell it for you. Always get the best number (and an alternative) and the best time to have a call returned to the caller.
9. No Interruptions
Never interrupt a person when he/she is talking to you and never give the impression that you are rushed. Listen closely in order to understand their needs and requests. Give the person time to explain his or her situation. Remember, listening makes the clients feel that their needs are important.
Don’t sound bored or indifferent. Put energy into your voice, even if you are not having the best of days.
10. Do not answer the telephone angrily.
This will scare potential customers away because they do not like to feel intimidated. Since customers are unable to see your face when they call, the way your voice projects will either win them or chase them away.
For other daily Virtual Assistant Tasks also read