Ever tried to talk to a mumbler on the phone with a cheap VoIP provider? What about someone that keeps interrupting after every sentence? Or the person who always seems to call you from a noisy bar? These kinds of behaviors are annoying for personal calls, but when it comes to business ones, they can seriously hamper your ability to do your job.
That's why good phone etiquette is so important. Following basic manners and behaviors on the phone can be the difference between a closed sale and a frustrated client, so you'll want to make sure you're getting it right on every call.
In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about business phone etiquette, why it's important, as well as provide you with some clear examples to guide you on your way to a comprehensive phone call with your next boss, client, or customer.
Phone Etiquette Definition
Before we get into all the dos and don'ts of talking on the phone, it's important to understand what we even mean when we talk about “phone etiquette.”
Phone etiquette describes the manner in which you talk on the phone, taking into account everything from environment and word choice to tone of voice and mouth-fullness.
The goal of good phone etiquette is to, of course, not offend or scare off the person on the other line with behavior befitting an over-stimulated seven-year-old that just got into their Halloween candy.
Phone Etiquette Training: How to Upskill Your Team
In the modern era, it can feel like email proficiency is all you need to get the job done. However, the reality is that making sales over the phone is still a lucrative way for businesses to grow. Subsequently, if your team is fumbling through sales calls with important clients, there's no time to waste when it comes to upskilling them on phone etiquette.
Here are few strategies for training your team on phone etiquette to make sure you don't get hung up on the wrong strategies:
- Evaluate your team's phone etiquette – You can't help them if you don't know where they're going wrong.
- Establish clear goals – Whether it's a quota or just staying on the phone for a few extra minutes, SMART goals help everyone.
- Diversify training methods – Everything from role-playing to online learning can help your team get better on the phone.
- Positive reinforcement – Training isn't effective unless there's some kind of benefit, so make sure to reward those doing well.
To be clear, phone etiquette training is never complete. Making sure you stick to an ongoing process of evaluating and adjusting will ensure you not only stay up with the times, but also that your training doesn't get too stale for your new team members.
Tips for Good Phone Etiquette
Now, it's the moment we've all been waiting for: Let's get to the tips for good phone etiquette! These basic rules will help you stay cordial on the phone to ensure you make the customer comfortable rather than ready to run for the hills.
Here are five tips for good phone etiquette:
A good first impression goes a long way, and you could make a good first impression if they don't even know who you are. When answering the phone or making a call, particularly at a business, always start off with a basic “This is Fred with Fred & Co.” Not only will it remind the person on the other end that you're a human being — potentially avoiding a “loose my number, scammers” situation — but it will also encourage them to do the same, building a relationship even further.
If you've ever worked for, lived near, or been in a serious, long-term relationship with a mumbler, you know the importance of speaking clearly. The last thing you want your potential customers and clients to be asking is what you even want out of the call. “Did they need a real-time business quote or a squeal-mime Guiness mote?” Annunciate as much as possible and speak slowly to make sure they get it all.
We can all agree that the only person worse than a mumbler is an interrupter. Their inability to actively listen and actually hear what you're trying to say can halt a fruitful phone conversation in its tracks. When you're on the phone, always be attentive, but make sure you aren't stepping on their toes trying to guess what they're going to say, as it can get in the way of your potential sale and likable personality.
Speakerphone can get people in trouble. Whether you're talking to your sibling with your parent in the car or just don't want your coworkers to hear about company secret for one of your clients, avoiding speakerphone as much as possible is a good way to keep privacy private. Sure, if you're in the car by yourself, go for it for the sake of safe driving, but otherwise, stick to the headset.
Slang is great when you're planning a trip to the bar with your friends. But in a business setting, staying at polite and professional as possible is your best move. For one, it can alienate a potential customer that doesn't know what “rizz” means, but on top of that, you don't want to seem too familiar with a brand-new client, particularly when you don't know if they feel comfortable with that kind of working relationship.
Benefits of Good Phone Etiquette for Business Professionals
We know what phone etiquette is, how you can train for it, and what some good tips are to get started, but what's point? Why is phone etiquette even important for businesses trying to succeed in the modern world?
Well, if you've made it this far, you hopefully understand that good phone etiquette can make a difference, but here are a few clear benefits that will get you even more on board.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about: Good phone etiquette is more professional than the alternative. Whether your team is connecting with long-time clients or first-time customers, following the tips we listed above will ensure that your team is considered professional enough to be trusted with their hard-earned money.
When your clients and customers believe your team to be professional, they're obviously going to be more inclined convert sales. Studies back this up as well, with the opening phrase, “Is this a good time?” converting 6.6 times less a simple, “How have you been?” All that to say, the words we choose matter, particulary when it comes to making sales.
Good communication doesn't just ensure that a relationship is going to last. In order for your business to success, you'll want to be sure that communication is at the forefront of your priorities, and good phone etiquette and its subsequent training will be a catalyst for your team to stay in touch more effectively in the long run.
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