04 Oct How to Answer the Phone-8 Tips from the Front Line
Everyone knows how to answer the phone. Don’t they? Isn’t it obvious? Well, perhaps not. As a telephone answering service, we’ve been answering phones for a good few years now, and we’ve handled almost every kind of call for every kind of client. It’s not always the top managers who know the best way to get the most out of incoming calls- so we asked our Receptionists. This is what they said:
1. Answer within 3 rings
This is the standard approach adopted by almost every professional organisation.
2. Identify the business
So crucial. No caller wants to be left wondering if they’ve called the right place. As soon as you pick up, you should say your name and the name of the business, plus a standard greeting that works for you. If you get off to a bad start it’s hard to recover your professionalism. Extra tip: Our Receptionists suggest varying between “good morning/afternoon” and “Hello” etc. If it keeps you interested to change greetings every time you answer, that will come across in your voice.
3. Consistency matters
Train everyone to answer the same way- it builds faith in your company being a united front.
4. Be patient.
If the caller is on a bad line or seems to be a misunderstanding. Speak clearly and slowly enough to be understood. Persevere for as long as you can- until the line goes dead if need be. And always repeat back any spellings or phrases you are unsure of, so you always take an accurate message.
5. Be quick and efficient
Understand that these days callers can be very impatient. React quickly if they’re in a rush to be put through. This is where an expert knowledge of your own telecoms system is essential.
6. Watch your language
Avoid slang and unnecessary filler words like “you know” or endless “likes”, as they can make you seem unsure, immature or lacking knowledge about the company you work for. You need to sound assertive, without too many “ums”.
7. Get back to callers in an agreed timeframe
Inevitably you’ll get queries you can’t answer. If you really don’t know, say you’re not sure but will find out- even if that means calling them back. If you call back, do it promptly and within the timeframe you indicated, never leaving it more than one business day.
8. Use as many positive words as you can
“Certainly”, “immediately” and “of course” are great examples. This is particularly important on an ‘off’ day- your own personal mood or situation should never affect your call answering. As a bonus, you’ll be surprised how much you cheer up just by speaking positively.
9. Update callers every 45 seconds
Don’t keep callers on hold too long. Surprisingly, most people are actually quite happy to wait……as long as they know what is happening at your end of the line! Never leave a caller more than 45 seconds without an update. Try to offer choices- eg. “Shall I put you through to voicemail or would you prefer me to take a message?”
10. How you talk counts
Finally, by a huge majority, our Receptionists agreed that the most important thing you can learn is to be warm and friendly when you speak.When you only have your voice to make a lasting impression, your tone and rhythm really matters. It’s sounding genuine, interested and eager to help that makes the biggest difference between a good and a bad telephone experience.