ABC’s of Proper Telephone Answering
The way you answer your telephone is incredibly important. At this critical point, your caller will make several immediate assumptions about you and your company. They will make assumptions about the value of your service, whether you know what you are doing, and most importantly whether you care.
||March 30, 2003
||by Howard Partridge
||ABC's of Proper Telephone Answering
A. No Background Noise B. Standard Greeting
If your caller has already been greeted by an auto
attendant, or you have calls coming in from more than
one enterprise, then say "Good afternoon, this is (your
name)." It should always be positive and enthusiastic.
If you have someone answering your telephone, here
are a few "ABC's" that will help out
a. When receiving the call, make sure that there
is no distracting background noise such as radios, other
employees, office machines, etc.
b. Institute a standard greeting. Try these: "It's
a great day at (YOUR COMPANY NAME), how may I
help?' or "Good morning/afternoon (YOUR COMPANY
NAME), how may I direct your call?" Use "how may I
help?" when the person answering the phone is actually
the one doing the helping and use "how may I direct?"
when the person taking the call will be passing the call
over to someone else. Make sure that the greeting is
clear and can be easily understood by the caller.
Remember that it may be the first time they have ever
called your company and they could be distracted
when they call. Speak slowly and clearly. And above
all, be very enthusiastic!
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The way you answer your telephone is incredibly
important. At this critical point, your caller will make
several immediate assumptions about you and your
company. They will make assumptions about the value
of your service, whether you know what you are doing,
and most importantly whether you care.
If you answer your telephone with "hello", that says
you are not a real business. If you have your calls
forwarded to your cell phone, you can still answer like
it is an office phone. Always greet the caller
with "Good Morning/Good Afternoon (Your Company
Name)" or better "It's a GREAT DAY at"
C. Transferring the Call
c. Never, ever, answer the telephone with "hold
please". If your phones are really busy, answer "It's a
great day at (YOUR COMPANY NAME), can you hold for
just one moment?" Wait for a response. no matter how
big your company is, there is NEVER a time when it is
okay to just say "hold please!" What a turn off!!
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D. Transferring the Call
d. Transferring the call. One of the biggest
mistakes that a telephone answerer makes is "May I
ask who is calling?" When I hear that, I feel like
saying "None of your business!" Instead, it should
ALWAYS be "May I tell him/her who is calling." Asking
is invasive and implies that you shouldn't be calling.
Telling implies that you are just doing your job to get
the message to that person. To transfer the call
ask "May I place you on hold for just a moment while I
ring his office?".
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E. Taking a Message
e. Taking a message. If the person is not in
(assuming that someone else can't take the call), come
back to the phone and say "May I have ______ call
you back." Did you notice, that nothing was said about
whether he was "in" or not? That's because that's
another no-no. Don't say "He's not in." The caller is
wondering where in the world is this person and why
aren't they at work where they are supposed to be!
And don't say "He's not available." That implies that
the caller is not important. Instead, if pressed,
say "He's not in his office, may I have him call you
back." This statement covers you whether he is in or
out. It also implies that he is in (therefore at work and
not loafing somewhere!). If an approximate time can be
given to the caller when to expect a call, that would
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F. ALWAYS Say Thank You!
f. And last but certainly not least. ALWAYS SAY
THANK YOU! It is the customer service representative's
job to say thank you - not the customers. Recently I
rented a car and the customer service rep was a mono-
tone-just-take-the-information-type-person. When he
was done making the reservation, he said "Will that be
all?" I said "Yep." Silence. I was expecting him to
say "Thank you for calling". Nothing. He asked
again "Will that be all?" I said "Yep." Silence again. This
guy was actually resisting saying thank you!! He broke
the silence with "Will that be all sir?" I said "Yep."
Finally, he says "Well thank you for calling" I
said "Thank you!". See how easy that was! I guarantee
you that it didn't hurt him one bit. When the customer
says thank you first, say thank you!
When you respond to a customer thank you with "uh-
huh", you just told
them psychologically that you don't care. "Uh-huh, is a
ineffective choice that should not be used. If "Your
welcomed" is appropriate,
spice it up a little. How about this: "You are so
welcomed!" Or "You are CERTAINLY WELCOMED! Put
some enthusiasm behind it. It's a lifetime
client on the other end for crying out loud!
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