Small Business Guide To Call Answering
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a phone message that was delivered incorrectly. If it weren’t so, than The Game of Telephone never would have been created. You know the one, right? The first player relays a message to the second, whispered in their ear. The second whispers it to the next player in line with no repeats. it continues this way through several other people. As the message goes through each set of lips and ears, it changes. After it is whispered to the final person, they say what they think the message was, and everyone gets a good laugh. Because it’s often so wrong. It changed little by little with each listening ear.
Outside of the game of telephone, the same problem comes up. Was it Cheryl who called or Sherry? Shirley? There wasn’t any whispering. There was only one person between the caller and the person who the message was intended for. But there was plenty of opportunity for some confusion.
The person taking down the message could have failed to communicate the right message. They could have forgotten to get a name. Or, worse, a return phone number. Taking a phone message is much more than just getting down basic information. It seems like a small part of the whole small business pie. It can fall through the cracks. But it isn’t. Taking down a message incorrectly can mean no call-back for that person. You could potentially ruin the relationship with the person on the other end of the phone.
Contrary to popular belief, the goal of a phone call isn’t to get the person on the other line off the phone as quickly as possible. Not in the mind of some customers, at least. A recent study done by Gallup found that customers prefer their service to be thorough rather than quick and to-the-point. They’d much rather someone take their time and help them out, knowing the job was done correctly. This translates over to message taking as well. Yes, you have a lot of things to do, but the moment the phone rings, your attention goes to that caller.
2. You Can Make or Break a Caller’s Day with the Words You Say
Now that we’ve covered tone, let’s move onto what you actually say when you pick up the phone. It’s important to immediately introduce yourself and the company you work for. Do not just answer the phone “hello?” This gives the caller zero information as to who they’re talking to or what business they’re calling. Instead, answer the phone (while smiling, of course) and say “Hi this is *your name* with *your company* how may I help you this *time of day (morning, afternoon, evening)*. You can re-work this greeting to whatever matches your speaking style best as long as you are introducing yourself and the company you are representing from the get-go and lastly, are maintaining professionalism, of course.
With that being said, it’s absolutely paramount that you maintain a professional tone throughout the conversation. Try to avoid slang and definitely avoid any language you’d use at a bar with your closest friends. Instead of saying things like “Yeah, I don’t know” say “Let me find out for you.” These small but impactful changes in your language can greatly affect how the caller perceives your business.
Listen Up Buttercup
Our next topic on how to answer the phone is listening. We all know that there is a big difference between hearing someone and actually listening to someone. When someone calls your business, give them your full attention. You may be tempted to multitask, especially if it’s a busy workday. We get it – you have a lot going on. Your boss is pressing you for that assignment you completely forgot about and your mom keeps texting you and asking what cookies mean on ‘the interweb.’ The truth is that multitasking will only distract you from the call and potentially frustrate the caller. In other words, refrain from multitasking at all costs and do your very best to focus on the caller.
We recommend taking notes on every call to ensure that you’re focused. Detailed notes will also only help you in the future. When someone knows that they are being listened to, it establishes a sense of trust and credibility. On the other hand, if you’re typing away, fumbling around in your drawer for that pen you lost, or the worst of them all- eating, the caller may feel unimportant and will take their business elsewhere.
How to Answer the Phone When Your Friend Who Is a Business Partner Calls
It just may happen that you have friends throughout a specific industry or at a competing firm and you may come in contact with them throughout the working day. They may even be prompted to call you, whether for professional reasons or just to see how things are going.
The important thing is to maintain professionalism but without coming across as cold, insensitive, or insincere as doing so will not only cost you your friendship but may also cost you a potential business transaction or even your job. If your friend calls and your friend is a business partner, you have slightly more leeway than if a friend who is not a business partner calls.
Answer the call with a professional introduction as noted above. Address any professional concerns your friend may have, even if your friend isn’t calling with professional concerns. When all professional concerns are addressed, feel free to indulge in the usually friendly banter.
But try to keep the conversation quiet and private while using professional language; doing otherwise may create an air that you are not concerned with the working environment. Having a short, 5-15 minute conversation is not cause for concern as a friend who is a business partner may offer potential business or growth opportunities for your respective company.
Maintaining a Good Business Partnership
There are many attributes to an ideal business partnership, primary among them effective and professional communication. So long as your business partner is oriented towards creating and finding effective solutions for you or your collective companies’ problems, your partner is hard-working and fair, and your business partner is positive and shares your values, maintaining an open line of communication is an essential element to maintaining this positive relationship.
Unlike the usual phone etiquette, a phone call with a business partner allows some flexibility in content and conduct so that you can maintain a positive environment for all parties involved.
Since positivity is the key to productivity, you shouldn’t let your normal work expectations hinder you from maintaining a cordial relationship with your business partners, especially if they’re your friends.
So long as you find the right balance between personal and professional conversation, you can enjoy the benefits of chatting with your business partners whenever you’re at work and striving to succeed.
Katie Haynes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: you reformatted your resume, secured your references, and composed a genuine and constructive cover letter. You managed to make it past the first.
You’ve polished your resume, researched a variety of companies, and submitted some applications in hopes of receiving a quality position. You wait and then. you get the bad news: rejection.