While we live in a world increasingly dominated by digital communication, the telephone is still very important for business. If you work in a professional environment there will probably be cause for you to answer the phone at some point, so it’s important to know how to do it properly. Here are some top tips for answering a call professionally.
Start every call with your name and company
If you’re answering an incoming call from outside your business you should start by saying clearly your company’s name and your own name. Just picking up the phone and saying “hello?” or something even more casual can feel amateurish. Remember you’re trying to build trust while you are on the phone, so you need to give them the confidence that your business is reputable and professional.
Answer the phone smiling
It might seem over the top but it does work. When you answer the phone you should be smiling – it doesn’t matter if you’re having a bad day or the call has come at a bad time, you have to prioritise the person on the other end of the line. Remember that the caller probably won’t know anything about you and will almost certainly be calling to deal with a working matter. It pays to be courteous and warm.
Remember the caller’s name
Make the effort to remember your caller’s name – they’ll feel much better about the conversation if they feel you are taking them seriously. Remembering their name shows them that you are paying attention and think that their call is important.
Speak clearly and steadily
If you’re nervous and inexperienced on the phone you might find yourself slipping into a habit where you talk too fast. But this is a mistake that you need to correct. Speaking fast will make the caller feel like you are rushing them. Not only that but it will make you difficult to understand and the caller may ask you to repeat yourself. Take a breath then speak clearly and steadily. This will make it easier for the caller to understand you and stop them from getting frustrated.
Give clear instructions and ask permission
If you want the caller to do something, make sure that your instructions are clear. If they want to speak to a colleague who isn’t available, don’t simply say “she’s not available, can you call back later?” It’s much better to give specific details about times and the number to call on. Equally if you’re going to put them on hold make sure you ask if they are happy to wait.
Don’t leave them on hold too long
If you’re going to put a caller on hold, make sure you don’t leave them there for too long. No-one likes waiting on hold and even if you need to do a few things to answer their question, you should just quickly pop back to the phone and let them know you haven’t forgotten them.
Learn your phone’s features
If you don’t answer calls often, you might not know how to use the phone properly. That’s not to say you don’t know how to pick up a receiver, but features like transferring a call, muting yourself or conferencing in might not be so easy. Familiarise yourself with what each button does so that you don’t waste a caller’s time trying to work it out.
[About the author: Mike James is a phone-shy independent content writer who consulted Hampshire-based communications specialists Intouch Communications for the information in this post.]