In almost all companies, the sign of a ringing telephone means a potential for business opportunity. To that end, how we answer an incoming call sets the stage for the business we might conducting in the call. One of the biggest mistakes we make in business is the failure to answer our phone in a timely manner and a bigger mistake is not answering at all.
Sure, we all need to sleep. But, with today's technology, failing to have, at the very least, an answering machine is considered business suicide. You know what happens when you don't answer your phone and someone is looking for your product or services? They call someone else while they are in the buying frame of mind. If the next company the call forwards after-hours calls to an on-call employee who answers and you don't, you will be knocked out of the running.
How we answer the phone is equally important. A call answered in a rushed or hurried voice can easily put off a potential client. Throw in a, "please hold" in that answering phrase and you are really in trouble from the get-go. At least have the courtesy to ask the caller if you might place them on hold. If they indicate they are not willing to hold, offer to take their name and number and return the call promptly.
If you do have to place a caller on hold, make it a brief hold. Find another person to handle the call or if you realize the call is holding longer than a minute or two, jump back on the line and ask the caller if you might be able to return the call in a few minutes. Attempt to get details about what the caller needs so you are better prepared to serve the caller when you return the call.
While fancy phone systems that ask you to push #1 for this or #2 for that might seem professional, don't make it too cumbersome for incoming calls to get to the right person. We are all familiar with a humorous television commercial depicting a person shouting into the phone, "representative", "operator" and "help" over what seems like a period of hours. Set your phone system up to get callers in touch with a live person as quickly as possible. If they are calling, they obviously want to speak to someone.
Remember to always have a smile on your face during the call. While they can't see you, a frown on your face and a sense of rush about you will be transmitted to your caller by the inflection of your voice. No one wants to feel like they are being a bother to someone they are trying to spend money with.
Posted on Apr 15 2016
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