Talking with a customer on the phone is often a difficult task. Especially as you are not seeing the individuals face, messages can come across unclear and misinterpreted. However, phone communication is something you will likely have to do day-to-day at work. Whether it is a reception call, colleague call, visitor or a client. Here are our top tips on improving your phone communication skills.
Positive tone of voice:
When you answer the phone, make sure you are smiley and enthusiastic. It’s a cliché, but a smile can actually be heard on the phone. Control your rate of speech, phone lines and signal problems are daily occurrences that cause problems on the phone. Therefore, speak slightly slower than you would in person but also in a clear tone of voice. It can be easy to have either high pitched or low pitched tone of voice, which is why we suggest going for something more middle ground to sound natural and interested.
Have a pen and paper handy:
When you start using a pen and paper to start making short brisk notes, it becomes natural to have it handy. If you are answering the call to transfer to a member of your team, make sure that you get the full name of the person on the other end of the phone as your colleague may be working with a lot of Matthews as an example. If your team member is busy, it is a good idea to ask the person on the phone again for their full name, the best number to call them back on and if they can pass on a message to your colleague. The best thing to remember is to get all the information as accurate as possible, especially the phone number and the name of the caller.
Use their name:
As soon as you know the caller’s name, use it. this will help you to remember the name and it will also allow you to personalise the call. Include it naturally in the conversation, if you use it too much then this can come across patronising and forceful. If you are unsure of the pronunciation, ask for it. it’s a nice gesture to get to know your customers.
Control the conversation:
This can seem daunting, especially if you are new to professional phone conversations. If the caller goes off-topic, its important to still build rapport but remain in control of the call. Customers appreciate you handling their needs efficiently.
Don’t be preoccupied:
While on the phone, it can be easy to get distracted in other work and walking around the office on the phone, but just because the caller can’t see you it doesn’t mean they can’t hear background noise. Be mindful of eating, drinking, murmuring or chewing gum while you are on the phone too. the phone enhances sounds more than you think, and it can come across unpleasant when you are on the phone.
When putting the caller on hold:
Rather than just putting the caller on hold, let them know they will be on hold but their query will be dealt with as soon as possible. Callers feel like they get dumped promptly into long queues, so it can be off-putting for them to hold in the queue. However, remain positive and reassure the caller that your colleague will soon be helping them.
A call can feel like it’s gone on for ages, especially when it’s not face to face and all they rely on is information being handed to them through a phone. Therefore, it puts the caller at ease when you summarise the call and information they need to remember before you hang up, or if you are passing on information reassure them that you will pass it on straight away. There may be a few more questions at the end, but don’t rush the caller and answer all their questions.