Top Nine Telephone Basics

Phone skills are an important part of the job. The way you handle your phone is as important as a face-to-face meeting. So take the time to go over some of these basics. Here is a phone skills list from Step Hyken, a professional speaker and author specializing in customer service and customer relations. 

1. Start with enthusiasm. Try to convey some type of enthusiasm. From beginning to end, show that you care about the person with whom you are talking. You don’t need to act overly excited about your phone conversation. Just have a positive attitude. It is contagious. 

2. Be sure to smile. Even though you are on a phone, the other person can sense a smile from you. Some telephone experts recommend putting a mirror on your desk to remind you to smile while you are talking. For people who are on the phone all day, a mirror may not be a bad idea. 

3. Say “Hello!” (or “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” etc.) Have a warm greeting. Welcome people into your conversation. Don’t make them feel as if they are an interruption. If you are too busy, then let someone else pick up the phone. That is a lot better than a greeting that sounds like, “Yah, what do you want?” 

4. Say “Goodbye.” Have a strong closing. At the minimum, be sure to say goodbye before hanging up the phone. How many times have you expected someone to say “goodbye,” “have a nice day,” etc. only to hear a click? Don’t do that to your customer!

5. When talking with a customer, avoid company or technical terminology that they may not understand. Everybody has had this happen at one time or another. Someone tried to tell you something and you have absolutely no idea to what he is referring. Technical terms can put people in an uncomfortable position. People might feel dumb because they don’t understand you. Or they may feel frustrated and become impatient. 

6. Don’t get angry, even if the customer is. If a customer is angry and complaining, be patient and listen. Most likely the caller is not mad at you personally. Ask questions to show that you care. Be a good listener. 

7. Transfer – ONLY ONCE! If you are transferring a caller to someone else, make sure that person is available. Don’t put the customer on hold, transfer, hold, transfer, hold, transfer. 

8. Control the “hold” button on your phone. A survey in USA Today showed that customers hate, more than anything else relating to the phone, to be put on HOLD! There are only two reasons to put someone on hold: to transfer to someone else or to get information. 

9. More on the “hold” button. If you are going to make a customer wait on hold for any reason, let him know how long he will have to wait. When you say a minute and it really is just a minute, it will probably seem a lot longer to him. So, if you are asking him to hold for an extended period of time, it is probably best to call him back. Promise to call at a specific time. Then keep your promise!