Professional Phone Skills

by : seeley

In this day and age of computer technology, the temptation to rely on it too much is always there. Still, when it comes to customer service, there is simply no replacement for the human touch. Answering services are fantastic for making sure all calls are received and routed correctly, but it's up to the people at the other end of the line to make sure the right impression is left with customers following a call. Whether a company uses voice mail, a touch-tone routing system, an answering machine or other options, the people must respond to make sure the impression that's left is good.

Good customer service requires common sense and a strong commitment to following the Golden Rule. No one likes to be stuck on hold for a seeming eternity and no one likes to leave messages and have them go unreturned. Whether your employees only deal with each other or they deal with outside clients and customers, it's important they understand the basics of good phone etiquette and practice them daily.

Smart customer service involves the following, but isn't limited to it:

* The old adage that the customer is always right can be wrong, but that doesn't mean that every caller shouldn't receive respect and be treated with politeness and courtesy. When messages are taken, employees should return them quickly and efficiently. Even if answers aren't forthcoming, an employee - not a machine - should make a call back to let the client or customer know the situation is being looked into or addressed.

* When on the phone, employees should talk clearly and slowly. They should repeat information to make sure it's been received correctly. They should also repeat information the client has given them to ensure its accuracy.

* Patience is key when dealing with phone calls. Since accents and other barriers to communication can present themselves, the smart employee makes sure to take the time to understand what a caller wants.

* Common courtesy. Those answering the phone don't need to have a five-minute rehearsed script to do so, but please and thank you can go a long way to showing courtesy rules at their place of business.

* Return all calls. Whether messages come through voice mail or via a telephone answering system, all calls to a company should be returned and answered within a reasonable amount of time.

* Give respect to command respect. This is key in customer service. Even employees in debt collection departments should treat their calls with respect. Oftentimes this can turn a bad situation into a good one. People are more apt to work with those they feel are willing to work with them and treat them like a person, not a case file.

Telephone answering services, voice mail and call routers can speed up the way business gets done, but the real impression should be left by the human employees at a company. If calls are handled with courtesy and respect, in a timely manner, the impression left by a company will be high in most cases. If employees don't handle their calls using the Golden Rule, the bottom line and the company as a whole can suffer. This goes for those who deal only with in-house calls and especially those who deal with the general public.