The Importance of Telephone Etiquette for Your Business
Telephone etiquette is the backbone of a successful customer experience.
When customers call your company, they expect your undivided attention. They don’t want to be kept waiting and they need prompt answers. When a call is answered professionally, courteously, and warmly, and customers are happy with your product or service, they will come back with repeat orders and referrals.
But First, What is Telephone Etiquette?
Telephone etiquette refers to how you represent yourself and your business to customers and coworkers over the phone. It encompasses all phases of a phone call, from the first ring to how you end the call. To deliver a great experience over the phone you must think not just about what you say, but how you say it. This includes your word choice, tone of voice, active listening, conversation pace, and yes, your body language.
Telephone etiquette is a basic component of customer service and it’s more important than ever for businesses.
People Still Pick Up The Phone
For a business, phone calls are often the first, and sometimes only point of contact with some customers. The way those calls are handled can potentially make or break a relationship. Chatbots will never replace human-to-human interaction, which is why 68% of customers prefer to communicate with businesses via phone.
Telephone Tip: Answer The Call In 2-3 Rings
If you let it ring more than 3 times the caller may grow impatient or abandon the call all together if they perceive their call is being ignored. Upon picking up the phone, immediately introduce yourself. A prompt response communicates that you value customers and their time.
First impressions Matter
Telephone etiquette can have a lasting impact on callers’ perception of your business. Research shows it takes about 7 seconds for a person to make a first impression and determine whether you’re likable, trustworthy, and competent. If you are able to WOW them then you have given them a reason and the confidence to do business with you.
Telephone Tip: Answer With a Smile
You can make a great first impression by smiling when you answer the phone. It’s a fact that people can hear a smile in your voice, even if they can’t see it. Smiling and speaking clearly sets the tone by radiating confidence and a positive attitude. As a result, callers are more likely to feel comfortable talking to you.
Confident Communication Is A Competitive Advantage
Great telephone etiquette sets the tone of the call and it can separate you from the rest of the market. Roughly 61% of customers say they would switch to a new brand after one bad experience. Keeping customers waiting for too long, speaking incoherently and illegibly, playing music in the background, or speaking curtly/rudely to them can seriously damage your reputation and drive them away to your competitors.
Telephone Tip: Properly Place Customers on Hold
Being put on hold can be arguably the most frustrating part of a phone call for customers. If you must put a caller on hold, politely ask for permission first and wait for an answer. When you do return from the hold, acknowledge it and make sure to say thank you. Simple gestures like these demonstrate you respect your caller’s time.
Build Trust, Loyalty & Leads
Potential customers call your business to do more research about your product or service before making a purchase. 87% of customers said talking to a person on the phone to answer questions made them feel more confident in making high-consideration purchases, versus purchasing directly online. Helping people find the answers they want in a prompt and professional manner showcases your expertise and gives customers an incentive to come back.
Telephone Tip: Remain Engaged Through Active Listening
It is important to listen actively so that a caller feels heard and valued. For both parties to remain engaged, you must show a genuine interest while expressing appropriate levels of compassion and empathy throughout the entire call. This will also help you pick up on nuances and details during the conversation that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Customer Satisfaction Drives Growth
When done well, telephone etiquette leaves customers feeling supported and cared for. This could lead to more business for you because satisfied customers often share their experiences both online and through word of mouth. Not convinced? Businesses that prioritize customer experience grow their revenue 1.7 times faster than businesses that don’t. They also grow their customer lifetime value by 2.3X on average.
Telephone Tip: Close The Call Courteously
Before wrapping up, briefly summarize what has been accomplished during the call. If the caller is expecting someone to follow-up or follow-through regarding an inquiry, order, or appointment, be sure to communicate what happens next. Always end the call on a positive note by thanking the caller and letting them know where they can get in touch if they need help in the future.
Conclusion: Consistency Is Key
In 2022, telephone etiquette still matters because customers expect a consistent experience from the businesses they interact with. 59% of customers say it feels like most businesses need to improve the training of their customer service agents. In today’s remote landscape, customer service training can be challenging. Additionally, many businesses lack clear policies, procedures, consistent escalation protocols, and adequate support mechanisms to ensure seamless call handling. Investing in the right people, tools, and training is the first step to reaping the benefits of telephone etiquette.
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