By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training
Telephone Doctor works with all kinds of people. For whatever reason, there’s a group of these folks who feel they’re in that old ivory tower and exempt themselves from telephone skills training. There is one thing, however, they have all agreed on – that there are always a few good tips from the Telephone Doctor. Here are a few good DO’s and DON’Ts and a LINK to our new book below.
1. DO acknowledge all your phone calls. Somehow. If you’re unable to return a phone call yourself, have it returned on your behalf. Not returning a phone call is like not using your turn signal – rude and sometimes dangerous. (Not returning calls label you as rude.)
2. DO place your own phone calls. Or if you absolutely need to have someone else place a call for you, at least be ready when the person you called is on the line. It’s legendary bad taste to get a call from someone’s assistant and then be put on hold to await Mr./Ms. Self-Important.
3. DO give bad news yourself. Not able to deliver on time? Canceling a contract? Best to give it yourself when at all possible. Having someone else give your bad news is what Telephone Doctor calls “distance induced bravery.”
4. DO identify yourself on accepting all incoming calls. (Even when you know who it is.) “Hello” isn’t exactly a business greeting on the phone. Everyone likes to know who they’re talking with . . . don’t you? And don’t ASSUME just because the caller ID says it’s someone that it is that person. Answer professionally EVERY TIME.
5. DO expect your called party not to be available. Expect voice mail. ‘Be prepared’ is not only for the Boy Scouts. Be prepared to leave a detailed voicemail message with full disclosure of who you are and how to reach you. BONUS: Leave your phone number twice . . . and slowly. Don’t make the recipient replay the message 6 times because you spoke too fast.
6. DON’T make employees lie to your callers by having them say you’re not there when you are or in a meeting when you’re not. Best to TRAIN your staff to handle the call. “Mr. Jones is in the office; however, he’s unavailable at the moment.” Then they should offer assistance. It’s much healthier than an out and out lie.
7. DON’T be too busy to be nice. We’re all busy. Being busy does not give you carte blanche to be rude.
8. DON’T hide behind voice mail. It was not intended as a screening device or to warehouse calls.
9. DON’T use a speakerphone on an initial greeting. Echo-y voices should not be the first thing a caller hears. Always ask if the caller minds being on the speakerphone. Let them know if others are in the room.
10. DON’T use a car phone for full blown sales calls and presentations. Too much chance for distraction and, of course, an accident.
BONUS: DON’T leave bad news on voice mail. You can leave a message saying you need to discuss a certain situation. But leaving bad news on voice mail is again, distance induced bravery.