Whether you’re closing a deal with a new client or assisting a frustrated customer with an order, good telephone skills are essential for any business. They can be the deciding factor that leads to making a sale or losing a customer.
Unfortunately, talking on the phone does not come naturally for many people. It can oftentimes feel awkward, and some of us even have a deep-rooted fear of speaking over the phone. No matter the problem, the last thing you want is for a lead or customer to hang up the phone with negative feelings about the way the conversation went.
Phone Tips to Enhance Communication Skills
Even if your phone skills are less than stellar, not all hope is lost. Here are some business telephone etiquette tips to enhance your communication skills over the phone.
Of all our phone tips, listening should be your biggest priority. It may be harder to do than in person, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Take the time to really listen to whomever you’re talking to and understand what they have to say. Not only does this allow you to have a more meaningful conversation with your caller, but it allows you to better assist them with whatever they need. Don’t hog the conversation or be quick to speak — practice active listening to show your customer you genuinely care.
2. Speak clearly
It’s tougher to understand someone over the phone versus in person, especially since you can’t see their lips moving. Enunciate clearly when you’re speaking over the phone to ensure your customer can hear you as clearly as possible. If you suspect your customer can’t hear you due to a poor connection or some other reason, be sure to clarify periodically and ask if they can hear you. Similarly, make sure your customer knows what you’re saying. This goes beyond simply being able to hear you — you need to make whatever you’re saying easy to comprehend. For example, if you explain something, ask if they understand what you’ve said and if they need anything repeated or explained further. Never assume that your message was heard loud and clear.
3. Answer all questions
Being able to answer your caller’s questions is vital for delivering great service. However, it’s impossible to know all the answers, and it can be a bit unnerving to be asked a question you don’t know how to answer. When this happens, don’t say you don’t know the answer and leave it at that. Reassure your caller that you’ll either find the answer as soon as possible and call them back, or put your caller on hold and find out the answer immediately. This shows that you’re taking your customer seriously — and ultimately displays professionalism and good customer service phone etiquette.
4. Ask questions
Along those same lines, you should ask the caller questions to gather as much information about their inquiry as possible. This demonstrates that you have an interest in what they have to say and ensures no stone is left unturned during your conversation. Always ask if you can help with anything else, even if it seems like the conversation is over. While it isn’t always necessary or appropriate, it may be beneficial to ask a simple personal question, such as where your caller is calling from. Making a personal connection with your customer can help them feel more at ease when speaking with you on the phone.
5. Don’t be too salesy
Being too salesy can scare away a good customer. No one wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot who’s obviously pushing a product or service. Add some personality to the conversation, and don’t just tell the caller what they want to hear. You want to be honest in order to deliver a great customer experience.
6. Use common sense
In addition to these business phone tips, there are some basic rules you should follow when talking to customers over the phone:
- Don’t call outside of normal business hours. This is a no-brainer, but unless it’s an emergency, please don’t call your customers early in the morning or past 5 P.M. (or on weekends, for that matter). Doing so comes across as annoying rather than helpful.
- Be kind! No one likes talking to someone who is unfriendly or rude. Always keep customer satisfaction top of mind. Try smiling while talking on the phone — it seems silly, but it can help keep your tone light and friendly.
- Always follow through. Return phone calls when you say you will, and if you’re unable to do so, let your customer know. Leaving someone hanging can hurt your business.
7. Focus on the customer
Making money for your business is great, but the only way to do that is to win loyalty through a great customer service experience. Keeping your customer or client top-of-mind at all times will make you more likely to deliver quality service, every time. Want to take your customer service skills to the next level? Learn how call recording can help polish your staff’s phone communication skills to win even more new and repeat customers.