Telephone Etiquette

by Glenn Friesen

Edu­cat­ing front line employ­ees on appro­pri­ate tele­phone eti­quette is imper­a­tive for all call cen­ter train­ers and man­agers. Pre­sent­ing a pro­fes­sional image over the tele­phone is the first step to build­ing great rap­port with new cus­tomers, and keep them com­ing back for your prod­uct or ser­vices.

Phone Eti­quette: Vocal Skills

Voice reflects atti­tude. Even if the words are cor­rect and intended to be polite, tone could imply the oppo­site. Voice is made up of five dis­tinct ele­ments: tone, inflec­tion, pitch, rate and vol­ume. Your voice con­tains spe­cific per­cent­ages of each ele­ment that makes it uniquely yours. How­ever, there is a best prac­tice range within which your voice sounds con­fi­dent and most impor­tantly professional.

  • Tone is the most impor­tant vocal skill in great tele­phone eti­quette. Tone expresses your over­all atti­tude and lets the per­son you are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with know how you feel about them.
  • Inflec­tion refers to the way you high­light cer­tain words and phrases. When used well, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive can use inflec­tion to stress the impor­tance of cer­tain words and keep the caller engaged and on track.
  • Pitch refers to how high or low your voice sounds. Gen­er­ally higher pitched voices sound abra­sive, while low deeper voices tend to be more soothing.
  • Rate refers to the speed and cadence of your voice. Remind your front line staff to speak slowly and clearly,  and/or adjust their rate to match the customers.
  • Vol­ume refers to how soft or loud you speak. Vol­ume is the eas­i­est ele­ment to con­trol. How­ever, many peo­ple are unaware that they speak too softly or too loudly and will need to be coached to use an appro­pri­ate level when tak­ing a call.

Tele­phone Eti­quette Guidelines

Tele­phone eti­quette can eas­ily be addressed dur­ing cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing ses­sions. Use the tips below to remind rep­re­sen­ta­tives on how to pro­vide good phone etiquette:

  1. Use for­mal greet­ings. When answer­ing the call use a for­mal greet­ing and clearly state your name. It is con­sid­ered best prac­tice to use sir or ma'am to address customer's if names are unknown.
  2. Speak clearly. Tak­ing the time to speak clearly and in a pos­i­tive, pro­fes­sional tone will put the caller at ease.
  3. Hear & under­stand. Train your rep­re­sen­ta­tives to lis­ten care­fully to cus­tomers and let them fin­ish their thoughts with­out inter­rupt­ing. Ask ques­tions that clar­ify infor­ma­tion and con­firm that every­one is on the same page before mov­ing forward.
  4. No food or bev­er­ages. This may seem like com­mon sense, –but stress the impor­tance of refrain­ing from con­sum­ing food or bev­er­ages while tak­ing a call. The last thing your cus­tomers want to hear is slurp­ing and crunching.

Good Phone Eti­quette Increases Cus­tomer Satisfaction
Tele­phone eti­quette is one of the key com­po­nents to cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. Cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives need to be well versed in prod­uct or ser­vice knowl­edge and pos­sess the skills to pos­i­tively share that infor­ma­tion with cus­tomers. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives who do not have good phone eti­quette are a lia­bil­ity and will neg­a­tively impact sales and cus­tomer reten­tion. How­ever, rep­re­sen­ta­tives who have good phone eti­quette will decrease esca­la­tions, increases sales and improve cus­tomer satisfaction.

Tele­phone eti­quette is an inte­gral part of cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing and a key indi­ca­tor of not only cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, but employee satisfaction.

Posted on August 18, 2011

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