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Customers form a critical asset for any organization seeking to remain profitable and maintain competitive advantage in the ever changing business environment. Their handling, especially over the telephone, is of germane importance if employees and management expect to retain the engine that drives their businesses (Penoyer, 2008). This paper serves as a formal training document that outlines the expectations of handling phone calls.
Elements of Answering the Phone
All members of staff must realize that the telephone forms the primary point of contact between the customers and the business, thus the way calls are answered influences the customers’ perceptions and expectations of the business.
In this perspective, all incoming calls must be answered before the third ring to avoid keeping the customer waiting, and the employee answering the phone must always project a warm and enthusiastic environment. Employees must note that the welcoming voice a customer hears at the other end to a large extent influence his or perceptions of the business (Longenecker et al., 2005; Ward, 2011).
Telephone receivers in formal settings must always ensure that messages sent from the customer’s end are completely and accurately understood to avoid any inconveniences. Employees must therefore kindly request the customer to repeat or clarify information that has not been well understood before getting such information to the intended recipient (Ward, 2011).
All telephone calls should be answered within one business day as this does not only create a favorable impression in customer care, but it may mean increased business as ‘the early bird always catches the worm.’ Lastly, employees answering the phone must always desist from using the speaker phone unless it is absolutely essential.
The use of speaker phone will most certainly give the customer the impression that the receiver is either not serious about his call or the organization cannot guarantee confidential conversations
Example of an Appropriate Greeting
Greetings form the initial interface between the customer and the telephone receiver, not mentioning that this initial contact determines the route taken by the rest of the conversation (Ingram et al., 2007). As such, the initial greeting must be warm and courteous, and this can be affected by the receiver through identifying himself and the organization he is working for. An appropriate greeting, therefore, should follow the following: “Good afternoon. New York International Hotel. Kevin speaking. How may I be of assistance to you?”
Instructions on the Use of Proper Language, Titles and Etiquette
Employees receiving formal telephone calls from customers must learn to moderate their voice, be coherent and answer all enquiries in a clear manner so that customers may benefit from the conversation. Of great importance is the fact that employees must always use formal language when answering the phone, implying that slang or jargon use is totally unacceptable.
Employees must always desist from using filler words such as “um”, “Gosh”, or “you know” whenever they are speaking on the phone. In equal measure, words such as “OK” or “No problem” must be discouraged in formal telephone conversations (Ward, 2011).
Employees must always remember to address customers by their titles if such information is within their reach. If one of your most trusted customers is known as Dr. Samuel, you should train yourself to use the title and full name instead of referring to the customer as “Sam.”
In terms of etiquette, employees answering phone calls must always train their voices to project a positive warm tone that reveals their responsiveness to customers’ needs. Using words such as “I don’t know” only serves to reveal to the customer that the receiver is either not interested in the conversation or the he or she is rude.
Instead, employees should use words such as “Please, can you hold a little as I find out about that for you.” Such words engender the customer to be closely related to the business. (Ingram et al., 2007). For proper etiquette, however, employees must always ask customers if it is alright to put them on hold as they look for the needed information.
Ingram, T.M., LaForge, R.W., Avila, R.A., Schwepker, C.H., & Williams, M.R. (2007). Professional selling: A trust-based approach. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Longenecker, J.G., Moore, C.W., Palich, L.E., & Petty, J.W. (2005). Small business management: An entrepreneurial emphasis. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
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Penoyer, F.L. (2008). Seven telephone handling secrets everyone can use for business or pleasure. Web.
Ward, S. (2011). Phone answering tips to win business. Retrieved from <https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-answer-the-phone-properly-2947153>