Speaking to a customer on the phone is generally the first interaction they will have with your business. That first bit of communication is crucial in making a good impression. In those few seconds you are representing your company and what you have to offer. You need to make every second count.
Of course, being professional goes without saying, but it’s always good to have a guideline in place.
Here are 10 top tips on how to answer a call a call professionally. By doing so is only going to help improve your customer service.
1: Be prepared
Before the phone even rings, you might want to consider what you’re going to say. You may even have a short script to follow, which could be ideal for answering multiple calls consistently.
If you are doing so, make sure it doesn’t sound as if you’re reading from a script as this may come across rigid.
You want to sound relaxed and inviting to your customer, as if you’re genuinely interested in them. So, take a deep breath and get ready to answer your first call.
2: Be prompt
Try not to let your phone ring for more than 2- 3 rings. You want to be prompt. If your customer has to wait too long, this may put them off, or worse, hang up. You certainly don’t want them having to chase you up with several calls- this looks very unprofessional.
The same can be said for answering too soon. If you pick up on the first ring, you may catch the customer off guard, which could throw them off.
You want the beginning of the call to be off to a good start, so the conversation is able to flow naturally.
3: Greet with a smile
If you smile whilst you speak, it comes across in the tone of your voice.
As you’re unable to pick up on queues such as body language and facial expressions, just use your own. If you feel like making hand gestures whilst you talk, then go for it; whatever helps you get into a natural rhythm.
4: Be tactful
Next comes the actual greeting itself, whether it’s stating your name and business, be confident in yourself. The key is to be enthusiastic but to the point. You want the customer to know they have reached their intentional destination.
Depending on whether you have international dealings, a simple hello is fine. A “good afternoon” may catch someone off guard if they’re calling from another time zone. If possible, avoid assuming someone likes to be called “sir” or “miss”, for a start, you may not even be able to establish their gender.
Ask who you’re speaking to and ask if it’s ok to use their name. They’ll appreciate you asking, it shows you value them.
An example could be “Hello, this is *company’s name*, you are through to *your name*, may I ask who I’m speaking with?”
You want to make sure your customer understands every word you’re saying. Sit up straight, tilt your head and speak up.
You want to speak at a good volume but slow enough that they catch every word. You need to be clear and concise with pronunciation, as repeating yourself is far from ideal. If your customer can’t understand you, you may be wasting valuable call time going over the unnecessary.
In addition to this, you want to try and avoid any slang. This can appear unprofessional if taken in the wrong context.
6: Ask the customer to repeat important information
On the other hand, you should definitely ask the customer to repeat any of their important information. Again, this shows you value what they are saying by recognising the importance of their call into your business.
You also don’t want to forget anything vital. This could be something simple like the correct spelling of their name down to a general inquiry. Your customer will understand that not all phone lines are perfect and be more than happy to go over anything important.
You can listen, but are you being empathetic? You want to sound sincere and come across like you care.
If your customer has a complaint or a concern, acknowledge this as best you can. Show them you understand and that you will try to help.
Put yourself in your customers shoes. Speak to someone how you wish to be spoken to.
8: Be Realistic
You may not always be able to help someone, and that’s ok. Be honest with your customer. Apologise to them, but also try and find another solution. Ask another colleague if possible or offer additional support. By showing them you are going that extra mile, they will appreciate your efforts.
If you can help them, then fantastic- give them realistic expectations. You don’t want to commit to something you can’t promise. Give them truthful answers, they will appreciate this more then being economical with the truth.
9: Arrange a call back
Having to call a customer back is more than ok, but just make sure you keep your promise. Give them a time frame, ask when it suitable for them and make sure you can stick to it.
If possible, don’t leave it too long. You don’t want the customer waiting around and deciding to use another service. Reassure them and ensure them you’ll be in touch soon.
10: End the call on a positive note
You’re now ready to end the call, but you don’t want to come across rude.
Allow the customer to use their own initiative and end the call, but if not you can use a few final closing prompts such as “is there anything else I can help you with today?” or “are you satisfied with what we have gone through?”.
This will draw the conversation to a natural close and you are able to say your goodbyes. Always thank the customer for their call and use their name if it appears appropriate. You want to leave a good final impression.
What should I drink to have a good voice?
There’s nothing worse than having the clear your throat numerous times in an important call, but there are ways to soothe this. Caffeine isn’t actually good for your voice and although hot drinks open your throat, a decaf option should be considered.
A decaf herbal tea would be ideal if you know you have numerous calls to make. It refreshes the vocal cords and opens your airways.
Why do I mumble?
Mumbling actually occurs when you haven’t opened your mouth wide enough, therefore words become trapped and mispronounced. Mumbling also occurs when you speak too quickly or if your head is positioned downwards.
By sitting up straight, and opening your mouth properly, you should be able to overcome spouts of mumbling.
Do you need help with your business calls?
If you are a business and need help answering your phone calls professionally please get in touch. We offer affordable overflow call handling services and virtual receptionists. You can take advantage of a free trial.