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Basic Telephone Etiquette

The essence of dealing with people, politely and efficiently, over the phone can be boiled down to…. 

Basic Telephone Etiquette 


• Give the caller your undivided attention

• Focus on what the caller is saying

• Avoid distractions

• Do one thing at one time 
Let the Customer know you are listening

• Give verbal feedback clues to let the customer know you’re listening.

• Use a variety of clues to avoid sounding bored or mechanical. 
Every Call is ‘Note-Worthy'

• Making notes is recommended. The human memory is not perfect

• Written notes give you a record of the customer’s name and message – including correct spellings – case reviews – and accurate contact information

• Tools to carry – Paper for taking notes – a pen or a pencil 
Effective and Easy Note - Taking

• Remember writing takes longer than saying it.

• A good idea is to develop an  abbreviations system for quick use.

• Remember to prioritize information.

• Always remember the objective of the call, this will help you sort what information you would want to take note of. 
The Next Step 

• Paraphrase/Rephrase. Read them back to the customer. Tell the customer what he/she said in our own words.

• If the customer changes anything, correct your notes and promptly read them back. 
A greeting should always be the entry point of phone conversation. It indicates:

• Your friendliness and openness.

• Your willingness to provide quality service.

• Don’t make your greeting too long or over the top. 
Give your name

• This basic act of courtesy lets the caller know that he or she has reached the correct person, department or company.

• Mention the name of your firm. 
Ask the customer if you can help

• Saying “how may I help you?” completes the telephone answering etiquette by demonstrating that you and your company are ready and are available to assist the customer with his or her needs.

• It pays to write down the customer’s name and use it regularly in your conversation. 
How to put a customer on hold

• Putting a customer on hold is a frequently faced situation.

• Because it is an inconvenience to your customers to be put on hold, you should always ask permission before putting them on hold. 
Wait for a response

• “Can you hold---” is a situation so common that customers might be surprised to see you waiting for a response.

• The second part of putting someone on hold is to wait for a positive response from the customer’s side.

• As soon as the customer agrees to hold, say “Thank You” before clicking off. 

 Tell the customers ‘Why’’

• Most customers are very patient if they are politely informed as to why they must hold.

• They find it easier and comfortable to wait on hold if they have a mental picture of what the service associate is doing while away from the phone. 
Give a time frame

• Giving the customer a time frame helps kill the I-have-been-forgotten factor and has a calming effect.

• Here are three examples with a suggested path of action.
When the time for holding is -    
- Short (up to 60 seconds) - This will take a few moments  
- Long (1-3 minutes) - This could take me 2 or 3 minutes to sort out. Would you like to hold or do you want me to call you back?  
- Eternity (over 3 minutes) - Ask for a number to call him/her back. 
Thank the customer for holding

• Saying “Thank You for holding is very basic, good and common courtesy. This action nicely rounds off the on-hold sequence and acknowledges the caller’s understanding and patience. 
How to Transfer a call

• Customers are prone to be least tolerant when being transferred over and over again.

• To customers this means that the staff is too overwhelmed to care or the company just doesn’t care for them. 
Explain why the call is being Transferred

• Always ask if a customer minds being transferred.

• Inform your customers who they are being transferred to and why,

• Also, if a customer gets disconnected he can call back and ask for the person by name. 
Ensure someone is there to pick up the call before hanging up 

• The simple step saves the customer the frustration to be transferred to someone who is not there.

• By staying on the call till the recipient picks up, you are being responsible for connecting customers to a person who can help them. 
Tell the person the customer’s name and purpose of call

• Once the person to whom you have transferred the call responds, briefly give him the customer’s name and purpose of call.

• When a person does not want to be transferred offer to take a message and see to it that the message reaches its destination. 
Explain co-worker’s absence positively

• Customers rarely want to hear details as to why the person they’re trying to reach is unavailable.

• Likewise, your co-workers will not like their private live discussed with customers.  
Key actions for Ending the call

• Repeat any action steps that you and the customer have agreed upon

• Ask the caller if you can do anything else for him/her.

• Thank the customer for calling and appreciate his effort and time.

• Let the caller hang up first.

• Write down any relevant information as soon as you get off the phone.

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