The best tech startups can founder over their inability to properly use an old technology — the phone. All of the best programming and hardware acumen in the world will fail to save a company that can’t deal professionally with people on the phone, whether soliciting a customer or returning a call. People would still love to have a personal connection with your brand and your decision to plug such a system in place paves way for the swift growth of the company.
Here are some basic phone etiquette to help you out.
Phone Etiquette Tips That Could Save You Million of Dollars in Damages
The most basic phone skill is answering professionally. People who call your business expect the person on the other end of the line to treat them with respect. Hire people to staff the phones who are trained in phone etiquette so that the first contact a caller has with your company is pleasant and informative. Moreover, emphasize to the rest of your staff that the customers they speak to should always be greeted professionally and treated with courtesy. After all, phone etiquette doesn’t end at the secretary’s desk! Consider cross-training your other departments in proper phone etiquette in case they ever end up speaking to a client.
Set Up a Professional Voicemail
When you have your business line installed, whether it is a smartphone from a company such as T-Mobile or a landline, the first thing you should do is find out how to set up your voicemail. The voicemail greeting associated with your business is something that your customers will encounter in your off hours unless you operate a truly 24-hour phone line. In your greeting, avoid excessive efforts to be clever or funny. Instead, just clearly state the name of the business, and ask the caller to leave a message. You might also mention hours of operation and other helpful information.
Use Networking Connections When Calling
One of the best ways to get information on potential contacts for your business is through face-to-face communication. Events such as regional trade shows and seminars are an opportunity to acquire this information. You can wander the floor, trading business cards and talking a bit of shop. When calling contacts back, be sure to incorporate any information you gained while talking to them in person. Don’t be afraid to make a couple of notes on their business card so that you can remember any conversation-starting factoids that come up in that initial connection.
Respond Relevantly to Online Leads
The next best way to gather contact information is through online marketing techniques. Basically, you can provide an article or visual aid or other useful piece of content online, then place it behind a wall that requires the viewer to give you his or her contact information to access it. When following up online leads, you should try to respond fairly quickly to keep contacts from forgetting that they signed up. Be polite, and try to steer the conversation in directions indicated by the content they saw.
Cold Call Politely
While the best leads for customers come from their answers to voluntary information-gathering techniques, you may, depending on the nature of your business, need to call people out of the blue at some point. This is called cold calling. When doing this, you should prepare for a relatively hostile contact, because not everyone likes being called randomly. Practice a short, focused sales pitch that is flexible enough to deal with situational changes. And be sure to be polite; a bad impression on a cold call contact is a surefire way to generate alienation against your business.
Return Calls Promptly
When someone calls and leaves you a message, whether on a voicemail or delivered to an operator or secretary, he or she is expecting you to call back at the earliest convenient opportunity. That person will be watching the clock and judging your business based on how quickly you return the call. If you take a long time to call back, he or she will assume that you don’t view potential or actual clients as important — and will make decisions about whether to continue using your business accordingly. Avoid this at all costs by returning calls as soon as it’s practical.
Phone etiquette is important, but it isn’t necessarily difficult. Treat your callers the way you would want to be treated, and your customers will respond accordingly. For customer service rep, arming yourself with these phone etiquette tips could save your company a lot of money, and as well help in keeping you on the payroll.