For most types of businesses the telephone plays a major part in daily operations. This is because businesses need them in order to call out and contact vendors, business associates, and clients or customers. They are also valuable in that they open a door of communication with customers by allowing them to contact the business at any time during its hours of operation. As important as the phone is, it is just as important that businesses know the difference between what is good and what is bad phone etiquette.
They must understand that how they interact with clients and business associates over the phone will either portray them in a positive light or a negative one. In the hands of a poorly trained employee, manager, or business owner, telephone use can have an extremely negative effect on the business. For this reason, it is important that companies properly train their employees on good and bad phone practices.
The method that you choose to communicate should be appropriate to the audience, situation and nature of the message that needs to be communicated. Often a call is the best way to communicate. Other times your task will be best accomplished with an instant message or SMS. And, even email sometimes is the way to go (though it is too often abused).
Check out our guide to office communications. It will help you pick the best method to communicate what you have to say. And for when you do decide to use the telephone to communicate, make sure you follow the following set of do’s and don’ts.
When answering a business phone it is important that it is not allowed to ring more than three times. Advise employees that the second or third ring is the ideal time to pick up the telephone.
The phone should be answered with a positive greeting such as “Hello,” “Good Morning,” or “Good Afternoon,” etc. Following the greeting the person who answers the phone should give his or her name and the name of the business or organization that is being contacted.
Put on a smile before placing or answering a phone call. When a person smiles it affects the sound of his or her voice, giving it a more pleasant and friendly tone.
For clarity, the telephone should be held a distance of two fingers from the mouth.
Speak in a clear tone using a voice that is neither too loud nor too low. Words should be enunciated and said slow enough that people are able to understand what is being said to them.
If someone must be put on hold, ask for permission first and give him or her the option to leave a voicemail message. When taking them off of hold thank the caller to show that their time is respected.
When a caller is speaking, listen to what he or she has to say without interruptions.
When placing a call a person should always state his or her name before asking for the person that the call is for.
Always return phone calls if a return call has been promised. If a time frame was given the caller must make every attempt to return the phone call as quickly as possible within that frame.
If it is necessary to transfer a call, inform the person on the other end before doing so. It is also important to explain the need for the transfer.
Before transferring a call, confirm that the person to whom the call is being transferred is available. This person’s name should be given to the party who is being transferred.
If a person is answering the telephone, he or she should never answer on the first ring. Callers do not expect this and will be taken off guard.
Don’t answer the phone when eating, chewing, or drinking. If a person has anything in his or her mouth it should be swallowed or removed before picking up the phone to either answer it or place a call.
If you must leave the phone, never leave the line open. Instead, place the person on hold and check back with him or her frequently – preferably every 45 seconds.
Never say the words, “I don’t know” when talking with someone on the phone. The ideal response to a question where there is not a definite answer is to say “I’ll check on that for you.”
When talking to a client or a customer never say anything that can be taken as rudeness. The person who answers the phone should always talk to the caller in the way that he or she would like someone to speak to them.
A person should never use slang when speaking to a caller. Swear words should also never be used and may be illegal under certain circumstances, according to Federal law.
It is never acceptable to argue with a caller.
Do not transfer a call without informing the person on the phone and asking permission to do so.
When ending a phone call, do not hang up the phone without a positive closure such as “Thank you for calling,” or “Have a Good Day.”