I once had to speak to a person from the HR Department of the organization that I worked in. The minute I said “Hello”, he responded by saying “Yeah, tell me.” To make matters worse, two minutes later I could hear the sound of biting chips at the other end. Sometimes people do not realise that they are the brand ambassadors for their respective departments and that they need to follow some basic telephone etiquette while speaking to others.
Peggy Post and Peter Post in their update to Emily Post’s ‘The Etiquette Advantage in Business’, states “Knowing how to behave in a wide variety of professional settings not only makes you a more pleasant, confident, and enjoyable person to work with; it also provides you with all-important tools… that will help propel you and your company toward your mutual goals.”
In most organisations and for most types of businesses, the telephone plays a major role in daily operations. We all speak to a number of stakeholders on a daily basis and when we follow the right phone etiquette we end up making a positive impact on them.
I would like to compare my previous experience to another encounter I had customer service rep. The call was answered within 3 rings and the person at the other end greeted me warmly and also introduced himself smartly. I came to know much later that it was the CEO himself who happened to take the call as his key staff were on leave that day. There was no need for him to have taken the call in the first place, but the manner in which he conducted himself over the call was absolutely impressive.
I often wondered what the term ‘Moment of Truth’ meant. I felt that it was not possible for a person to make an impression about the person on the other end of the phone in 30 seconds. But this experience helped me to understand that I had done the same in 30 seconds. This person could have put me on hold or asked to call back and I would have been tolerant because he established his authority in the short span of 30 seconds.
Here are some simple, yet powerful, tips to create a memorable impact:
1. Have an upbeat energy right from the start of the conversation.
2. Conduct the conversation in a way the customer knows that you care and have a desire to resolve the issue.
3. If someone must be put on hold, ask for permission to do so. When taking them off hold, thank the caller to show that you respect their time.
4. When somebody is speaking over phone listen to them without interruptions.
5. If you are transferring the call, inform the person at the other end that you would be doing so and the reason for the same.
Judith Martin puts it sharply in her recent ‘Miss Manners Minds Your Business’ (coauthored with her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin), we’re all blundering with a “wider cultural confusion that has left the workplace riddled with etiquette land mines. Whether you blame resistance to relaxing the old rigidity of behavior or ignorance of traditional businesslike behavior, everybody… seems to be getting on everybody else’s nerves.”
Well said Judith! Cell phones in today’s world have undoubtedly made communications via phones here to stay. So knowing and displaying good telephone etiquette is a non-negotiable in creating business impact! Telephone Etiquette training that focuses on the nuances of globally accepted telephone skills is where the knowledge should be acquired.