A good impression counts for everything. For businesses, it’s important to always come across as professional, knowledgeable, and friendly, and this is especially true for phone conversations. On a call, clients will notice even the slightest disturbance, whether that is poor call quality or improper behavior. But where faulty phone lines are somewhat excusable, not complying with the correct phone etiquette could easily give the impression of an unprofessional business. Thankfully, learning how to properly behave at the other end of the phone line isn’t rocket science, just follow a set of simple and easily comprehensible set of rules and you’ll create the right impression.
General Business Phone Etiquette
Politeness and Clarity
When most people talk over the phone, they typically try to sound as professional as possible, but unfortunately it’s likely that from time to time you’ll bump into unpleasant callers. Regardless of the caller’s mood, however, it’s imperative to remain polite throughout the conversation, because you are representing the company. But it’s one thing to say polite words, and another to express them: employees should sit up in a comfortable pose, enunciate everything in a clear, fully understandable manner, pause between sentences, and keep a low tone and calm voice.
Put Permission First
When it comes to taking actions in one form or another, common courtesy demands that you should always ask for permission from the caller before such actions are performed. For instance, should the call need to be forwarded, placed onto speaker, or switched into a conference call, remember to always ask all participants whether or not they agree with the proposed situation.
The Importance of Introduction
“Sup?” might be fine during casual conversation, but business calls are entirely different. In these cases, introducing yourself by name, title, and the company you’re working for is a must. If it’s the company getting in touch with the client, then this should be followed by asking for the person that the call is intended for, even if it’s easy to expect the right person to answer the phone. In practice it would be something along the lines of this:
Good morning, my name is Brian Adams from Best Reviews Biz Inc. May I speak to Mrs. Elizabeth Smith?
It’s worth adding that VoIP providers are capable of identifying callers in this manner in advance – particularly in the case of long-time business partners – but if the call is being answered, then the conversation should again start with introducing yourself:
Hello, Virtual Phone Systems Department, Brian Adams speaking.
The golden rule of doing business is to focus on the caller no matter what, otherwise crucial information may be lost and the caller may well be able to tell when they’re words are not being listened to. In other words, you should put aside anything that isn’t related to the phone conversation and/or may distract you from the caller. However, if there is no way to avoid a distraction, it’s only courteous to apologize, mute the microphone, deal with the distraction urgently, and then return to the caller. Be sure to apologize again for the disruption, and if it is taking too long to deal with, consider offering to call them back.
A Short Message Is the Best Message
In instances where the business partner isn’t answering the phone, there are two options to choose from: either recording a voicemail message or sending text. However, regardless of which method is preferred, keep the message short but informative, include your name, company, and contact information. Only send this information once. If you’re the one receiving such a message, remember to respect the other party by reading or listening to it as discretely as possible.
Etiquette to Apply for Conference Calls
Although the same set of rules that one-on-one calls should comply with also apply to participants of a conference call, there are a few major differences:
- All participating members of the call should be invited in advance.
- The meeting should be fixed to a time that fits all participants’ schedules, arranged via a third-party app or through the VoIP provider’s own scheduler, if such a feature is available.
- It’s important to check the virtual conference room. Thankfully, conference bridges should work just fine since they have separate extensions available, but it’s still best to be prepared for everything.
- Consider creating an agenda to let participants know when it’s their turn to provide their input, as well as a recap of the conversation so that parties are reminded of what happened in the call.
- Even if modern phones and headsets are capable of noise suppression, microphones can still pick up background noise and create echo, which is why muting your device unless talking will help avoid these distractions.
- And, most importantly, conference calls should always start at exactly the time that all participants have previously agreed on.
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