No matter what business you’re in, phone skills are critical for any professional. Despite all the ways you can connect with customers, the phone is still most business’s primary point of contact with customers. Customers can check out your website and social media pages all day long, but when they really want a question answered, they pick up the phone.

The way that you communicate with customers over the phone will form the customer’s first impression of your.

Here are 6 tips for having effective and professional phone calls:

Answer Quickly

Callers don’t like to be left hanging on a ringing line. What could be a more important task in your business than answering the phone for a potential customer? If someone has made the move to call your business over all of your possible competition, reward them by giving the phone a quick answer.

Smile

It’s time to get cheesy. It may sound cliche, but it works. Smiling when you speak changes your tonality and how you come across to others, especially over the phone. Regardless of if you’re having a bad day or in the middle of a complicated spreadsheet, your callers should take priority. Before you answer the phone, pause for a second to bring your full attention to the caller and put on a smile.

Name Drop

When you call your neighbor you expect a “Hello?” When you call a business, you’re right to expect a little more. When answering the phone, always welcome callers by identifying yourself and your company. Say, for instance, “Good afternoon, thank you for calling Cloudworks Technologies. Jason speaking. How may I help you?” No one should ever have to ask if they’ve reached such and such business. Confirming where the caller is ringing so they don’t have to check sets a professional tone for the conversation.

Speak Clearly

When speaking on behalf of a business, it’s paramount that you enunciate every word clearly. It makes for a more comfortable conversation on the customer’s end, so that they don’t need to strain to understand you or ask you to repeat yourself. Keep from using overly-casual terms as well, such as “Uh-huh”, or “Mm-hmm”.

Be Helpful

If a caller asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, the call can still result in a positive outcome. Remaining helpful and professional is the key. Instead of telling the caller that you don’t know the answer, say something along the lines of, “Let me find that out for you and come back to you in a moment.” Never lie to a caller to get out of a question that you don’t know the answer to. If you give them bad information when answering their question, it will be nearly impossible to earn their trust back in the long run.

Have Backup

If your business can’t handle every phone call every time, you’re not alone. Numerous businesses find that the demands of callers are too much for them and their in-person staff to handle. If that’s the case for you, don’t let your callers be ignored or go to voicemail.

Using an answering service is the ideal solution for handling calls in any capacity. You can choose to have an answering service only take overflow calls, to avoid calls going to voicemail if your lines are busy. You could also have an answering service take your off-hours calls, so that even late night callers are offered a professional and friendly conversation. After all, the next big sale could come when the office is closed.

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