Essential Telephone Skills
By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor
Recently a Telephone Doctor client said to me, “Nancy, congratulations. Some people take a simple idea and complicate it; you have taken a simple idea and kept it simple.”
We don’t believe you should scratch your head and wonder when you’re being shown an idea or technique. That old KISS method (Keep it simple Simon) is the best. So we have purposely kept all of the material in our programs simple – yet very effective.
I’ve heard: “Hey what you do is just plain old common sense.” You bet it is. You won’t get an argument out of us. But you and I all know that common sense just isn’t that common. If it were, everyone would be doing it and we know everyone isn’t.
Our DVD program ESSENTIAL TELEPHONE SKILLS is just that. A basic, common sense program – uncomplicated, yet effective. Ideas, tips, skills and techniques that everyone should be doing, but they’re not.
So, this article is for those that simply want basic, common sense, healthy, usable techniques. Below are 5 of our 10 basic skills that are ESSENTIAL for better communications and handling of customers and, believe it or not, each other.
1. Answering a Business Call
Well, what’s so difficult about that? HUH? Right! It’s not difficult. But if I called 100 people within your own organization, I’m betting I’d get a number of various ways that people answer the phone. At Telephone Doctor we believe there should be one, uniformed method of greeting to answer the call by everyone, every time. Simple. To start, use buffer words that welcome the caller, such as, “Thanks for calling,” then your company name and then your name. As in, “This is Sue.” Then stop! Anything after your name erases you name. “How can I help you” is simply NOT necessary on that initial greeting. You are there to help. That’s why you answered the phone. It looks like this: “Thanks for calling Telephone Doctor’s office. This is Nancy.” Nice and simple, isn’t it?
2. Thanking a Caller for Holding
Being put on hold remains one of the top 3 frustrations of the American public. That being said, it’s something that often needs to be done during a phone call. Knowing how to put someone on hold is certainly important, but then so is thanking them for holding after you’ve come back to the phone. Again, simple. But how often is it done. I’m amazed at the number of times I’m put on hold and when the person comes back to the phone, they just start back in on the conversation like they weren’t even gone. (Sort of like stepping on someone’s toes and not says ‘excuse me.’) And normally they’re gone longer than they should be. So that “thank you for holding” sure would sound nice and would sure be appreciated. I always wonder why they don’t thank me for taking the time to stay with them. Do you wonder that as well?
3. Monogramming the Call
For whatever reason, we all seem to like our name. Maybe not when we’re children, but as we grow, we become used to our name and like it. I have many items on my desk and at home that have my name engraved on them. Some just initials. But it makes them ‘mine’ and I’d probably never pitch them in a cleaning out process. Why? Because they have my name on it. Most people save things with their name or initials on them. Same thing should happen on a phone call. When you know the caller’s name, use it. Don’t abuse it, but do include it throughout the conversation. Most people like to hear their name. And they want to hear it pronounced properly and spelled right. Don’t be afraid to ask the caller the correct pronunciation of their name if you’re not sure. They’ll appreciate it! It’s a heck of a lot better than you butchering their name. Don’t assume on the spelling of a name. ASK! Are you aware there are 19 different ways to spell the last name of NICHOLS in the New York phone directory? Not everyone spells their name the same way. Tom, Thom, Christy, Kristy, Charlie, Charley, John, Jon, Lynn, Lynne. Well, you get the idea. GET IT RIGHT!
4. Avoiding Mouth Noises
The telephone is a microphone. When you talk with something in your mouth, it sounds as though you have a mouthful of MUSH. Be it gum, candy or just finishing lunch. The only thing that should be in our mouth when you’re on the phone is your tongue. Rule #1: EMPTY YOUR MOUTH BEFORE YOU PICK UP THE PHONE!
5. Leaving a Positive LAST Impression
Most of us have been taught about making that great first impression. And yes, that’s so very important. That old saying, ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression’ is so true. Well, consider making a great last impression as well. Don’t screw it up at the end of the call. Let the caller know, “It was nice to meet you by phone” or “thank you for calling” or “we appreciate your call.” Something that will make that lasting positive impression, because when they hang up, they think to themselves either: Wow that was a great call. Or man, I’ll never call there again. How do you want your callers to remember you?
These are 5 great, simple, basic skills for you. We’ll be back with more later in the year.