Working in a small business in a position that involves inbound telephone calls requires a high degree of professionalism and confidence. If your job entails answering the telephone and handling calls from customers, vendors or other businesses, the manner in which you answer the phone may directly affect your company’s success. You are responsible for creating an appropriate first impression, making your phone skills extremely important.
Avoid letting the telephone ring more than two or three times before answering it. Pause whatever else you’re doing at the moment to take the inbound call. If at all possible, never let a call enter the voice mail system, as this can frustrate customers.
The speed, pitch, and tone of your voice are important for creating a positive experience during a call. Answer the phone with a relaxed and pleasant tone. Keep your greeting short but informative, with just enough information to let the caller know whether he has reached the right destination. Typically in business environments, it is considered more professional to say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” rather than “Hello.” Clearly state your name followed by either the department you work in or the company name. For example, “Good morning. This is John with ABC Company. How may I help you?” is an appropriate greeting, as opposed to an overly lengthy, drawn out greeting like “It’s a great day here at ABC Company! You’ve reached John in the Accounting Department. How can I be of service to you?”
Listen to the caller’s reasons for contacting you. Remain quiet and do not interrupt during his explanation of the situation. Acknowledge your understanding of the issue at hand, repeating back the main points if necessary. Assure the caller you will properly address his issue or concern, or transfer the call to the appropriate destination.
Avoid lengthy conversations involving the exchange of pleasantries. While it is often considered appropriate to make minor small talk about the weather or some other irrelevant issue, do not engage in such discussions if they result in wasted time. Understand that you should be friendly but not friends with people on the telephone.
End the call with a positive statement. Once you have resolved the caller’s issue or determined how to proceed, promptly and politely finish the call. Thank the person for contacting you or your company, then hang up. For example, say “Thanks for calling Mr. Smith. Have a nice day.”