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Published on July 29th, 2018 | by Jones

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Everyone needs these telephone etiquette skills

What is telephone etiquette? And why do we all need it? If you’re a business person who has a cellphone that your employers, employees, suppliers and clients have the number of, then you need to know proper phone etiquette.

Having conversations over the telephone has the ability to build, mend and maintain relationships. And when it comes to clients who aren’t situated around the corner from your office, this is one of the most effective forms of communication. Yes, there’s emailing and messaging, but, at the end of the day, it’s quicker to just pick up the phone and give them a call.

A decent greeting

“Hello, I’m calling to let you know about our …”. No, that is not a decent greeting. Every conversation that happens over the phone needs the same amount of politeness and courtesy as a conversation in person would have.

When you meet with a client, you don’t immediately start talking business. You have a decent greeting and small-talk conversation beforehand. This is a way of establishing the relationship and acknowledging that you are, in fact, communicating with another human being. The same goes for telephonic conversations.

Greet with a “hello”, “how are you” and a personal follow-up question from the last conversation you had with this person (this shows that you actually listen to what they say and are concerned about them outside of business). If it’s your first call with them, “hi” and “how are you are” before stating what it is you’re calling for, will be enough. But the point is, you need to initiate and invite a conversation, not just call and take the information you need.

The same goes for when you answer the phone. A decent greeting would start with your name and title (if it’s specifically an office-transferred business call). Have some patience with the caller’s greetings and politely ask what the topic of conversation is.

But don’t ramble

A decent greeting shouldn’t take more than a minute max. If it’s longer than that, then you’re rambling on and wasting both yours and the clients time. Have your greeting and polite small-talk, then get down to business.

Have a generic elevator-pitch that you can confidently deliver or make sure that before you make a call, you know exactly what needs to be asked or said. The longer you take to get to the point of the call, the less patience the receiver has to keep listening and give you a fair chance. If you’ve discussed the essentials, relayed or received the information you were looking for, then you can continue talking about what you like (if the extra conversation is welcomed).

But for business, it’s better not to ramble.

Keep it clear

Communicating clearly means more than just pronouncing your words and watching the pace at which you talk. It’s about being straightforward and not allowing opportunities for misunderstandings.

Prepare what needs to be said from your side and make sure it makes perfect sense in a language that the person you are talking to will understand. If a client doesn’t understand industry jargon, don’t use it to try and impress them.

And should you be on the receiving line of a call, the same applies. Make sure you listen clearly to what is being told or asked of you so that you can clearly and appropriately respond. Don’t ask them to repeat themselves a thousand times just because you’re not focusing and, at the same time, ask them if you’re unsure of what was said. You can politely ask them to repeat themselves or ask them by repeating back what you heard and allow them to correct you.

Telephone etiquette requires clear communication from listening to speaking.

No multitasking

And another skill related to appropriate telephone etiquette is not multitasking while making or taking a call. If you want the person on the other end to feel like they’re talking to a wall, have lost signal or get the impression that you aren’t interested in what they’re saying at all, then, by all means, try to do more things at once while on the phone.

Phone etiquette would have you focus on the conversation at hand, much like you would lock eyes with someone when they’re talking to you in person. If you find it hard to focus, take notes of what’s being said and it will also help you to respond correctly and retain the information.

Sometimes we’re put into a scenario where someone walks into the office while we’re on a call or we’re in the middle of something when we receive a call. In those moments, the right thing to do is excuse yourself to the person on the other end of the line, ask them to please hold for a few moments (or offer to call them back at their earliest convenience), deal with the physical situation and then return to your caller. Don’t let them hold for too long and rather offer to call them back should there be a time-consuming issue that comes up.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to be courteous on the phone and you’ll be better for it.

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