I once made a call to a business office at 5:15 at night. Someone picked up the phone, but didn’t identify themselves or the company. After clarifying that I had called the correct company, I asked if the individual I wanted to speak with was there, and was advised that no, he was not. I was then told it would be better if I called back the following day. At this point, I had to ask the person who it would be better for – me or him – because it was obvious he simply didn’t want to take a message or help me. Poor phone experiences can be avoided by simply following a few simple phone guidelines in place.
1. The first person to speak with a client should identify the company and themself. Subsequent people to speak with a client should identify themselves and their department if applicable.
2. Use good afternoon and good morning cautiously, showing consideration to whether or not the caller is in the same time zone as you. If you are sure they are, by all means use it.
3. Pick up the phone by the 3rd ring even if the call isn’t yours. If you hear it ring, and no one is around to pick up the phone, pick it up.
4. If you’re picking up a call that isn’t yours, offer to help or to take a message. When taking a message, get the first and last name of the caller, the phone number, date and time they called and why they called. Ask as well if there is a good time to call back.
5. Set up the phones so you cover one another. If you are answering the phone on behalf of someone else, have access to calendars, accounts, and files so you can help the callers.
6. If you need to transfer a caller, stay on the line and introduce the caller and the issue to make sure you are transferring the caller to the correct area and so the caller doesn’t have to re-explain the issue over and over again. Better yet, tell the caller you are transferring the call to a specialist and make the caller feel valued.
7. If you need to put a caller on hold, ask for permission first and wait for an answer. Do not leave a caller on hold for more than one minute without going back to the caller and asking if they want to continue to hold or would prefer a call back.
Phone conversations can leave a positive or negative impression on your clients. Ensure the experiences you provide to your clients are consistently favorable.