The way you and your employees answer your phone is extremely important to your business. Much of the contact you have with customers or potential customers will be through the telephone so you want them to feel that they're dealing with a professional, courteous business. Here are some tips for ensuring your phone answering skills are top notch:
- Answer incoming calls by the third ring.
- When answering the phone, be warm and courteous.
Remember that you're representing the company and you want to make a good impression by having a pleasant sounding voice.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Don't talk so fast that the caller can't understand you.
- Speak with a moderate volume. Don't speak so soft that the caller can't hear you, and don't speak so loud that they have to hold the phone away from their ear.
- When answering the phone, have a standard greeting, and then identify yourself and your company. For example, “Good morning, ABC Cleaning Company, this is John. How may I help you?"
- Have a positive tone to your voice. If you're not having a good day, be conscious of it because the tone of your voice is easily detected.
Be positive with your responses as well. Instead of saying, “I don't know" say something like, “Let me find out for you".
- Take complete telephone messages.
Use a telephone log and get the caller's name, company name, phone number, who the message is for, and a detailed message. If you're not sure how to spell the name ask them to spell it out for you. Be sure to get the message to the correct person right away.
- Return calls either the same day or within one business day. Nothing is more irritating to a caller than to make a phone call and not have it returned right away.
- If you need to put the caller on hold, ask if it's ok to do that and get back to them right away.
Don't leave people on hold for too long. If they're waiting for someone who is on another line, check in with them to see if they want to continue holding.
- Don't use the speaker phone. People don't feel comfortable being put on speaker phone and gives them the impression that the call isn't private.
- Avoid using an answering machine. . . voicemail is a more professional choice. Either way, be sure your message offers the information they need: greeting, company name, etc.
- Make sure all employees who will be answering the phone are trained the same way so phone answering is always pleasant and consistent.
Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at http://www.TheJanitorialStore.com and receive a Free Gift!