We live in a fast-moving, emancipated, success-driven world ruled by technology in which we ourselves often get badly treated by self-centred, discourteous people. By knowing and applying a few rules in the workplace you empower yourself and you will be at ease in the fast lane.
The telephone and the website have become the new shop-window and with the phone being an audible medium, presenting yourself and the company requires exceptional skill.
There are several do’s and don’ts when using the phone in the workplace:
Smile when you answer and speak in a clear voice. Your smile cannot be seen but it can be “heard”. Yes, you do get paid to smile even while looking at the blank wall in front of you or when dealing with an unfriendly caller. Speak in a pleasant tone of voice. Don’t be abrupt.
Don’t use slang; be respectful and considerate.
Answer between two or three rings. A long wait signals that the call is not important or that the company is overworked.
Answer with a scripted greeting to ensure consistency and professionalism. Say something like: “Good morning, ABC Trading Company, how may I assist you?”
Ask the caller’s name and use it in the conversation. Using a person’s name sends a strong message of acknowledgement. A good idea is also to pen down the name and the time called for the record.
If you need to call back then do so ASAP, even if you don’t have the answer the caller is expecting. This shows that the caller’s patronage is important to the company.
Remember to say “Please” and “Thank you”.
Always ask before putting a caller on hold and check in to establish if the caller is still there. Know who to connect to. Also inform the caller of the progress you are making with this connection and ask if you may transfer the call to another person if necessary.
Listen actively and do not interrupt. Ask questions to assess whether you have understood the issue at hand correctly, then respond accordingly. Listening is one method of providing quality service.
Don’t use speaker phones as they pick up distracting noises. The caller may also not feel comfortable discussing business with an unknown audience.
When ending the call, ask if the problem has been solved or if anything else needs doing. Remember to use the caller’s name.
Let the caller hang up first; psychologically the customer feels in control.
If the phone rings while dealing with a customer fact-to-face, ask the customer if you could take a second to answer, take the caller’s details to call back, and return to the waiting customer ASAP.
Don’t enter another person’s space when they are on the phone; sit or stand at least three metres away and don’t eavesdrop or ask about the caller or the conversation.
Keep your voice down when taking or making calls from your office or cubicle; be aware that you may be disturbing co-workers with a booming or high-pitched voice.