First impressions are everything. They say you only have a few seconds for someone to determine what the other person thinks about you.

Answering a business call is no different. This communication is the first interaction a customer has with you, whether they are new or existing. As soon as you pick up the phone, your first impressions means everything to them.

To overcome the barriers of a good first impression, is to establish how handing a call can benefit and improve your customer experience. The three key ways to do this are to be prompt, polite and helpful.

Be prompt

First things first, is to answer your call in a timely manner. No more than 2-3 rings are suggested. Answering too soon can look like your business has too much time on its hands if you’re waiting by the phone, but by the second or third ring you have answered promptly enough.

If you let the phone ring for too long, you may increase the chances of a customer hanging up before you answer. The same goes for answering a query, as if you take too long, a customer may go elsewhere.

Being knowledgeable in your line of work can go along way, it means you can deal with the situation at hand without keeping the customer waiting too long. It’s important to be as prompt as possible in anything you do over the phone, to keep the customer informed and interested.

Be polite

Even though this should be given, it’s easy to become stressed at work and not always answer a call in a courteous way. With each new call, take a deep breath and smile as you speak. You would like to think your customer is smiling with you.

Building a rapport with a customer not only improves their experience but it also improves yours. Interacting with others is key in client building, as forming relationships with customers makes life that little bit easier when your politeness is reciprocated.

As you’re speaking over the phone, you can’t pick up on things like body language or facial expressions, so by setting a polite tone from the offset can go a long way.
Using your manners is the easiest way to construct a polite conversation.

Be helpful

However, no matter how prompt or polite you are, if you aren’t being helpful, is there really any structure to your call?

As stated previously, being knowledgeable in your line of work is what is going to win your customer over. If you show you can help them, then they are more likely to become your customer. Even if you don’t know the answer straight away, just be upfront with them. A customer will appreciate your honesty, especially if you can resolve it eventually- then you’ve both learnt something new.

If you can’t find the answer, ask someone else who can, or even take a few notes. As long as you are able to get back to them with the answer, they will appreciate how helpful you’ve been by going that extra mile.

The art of conversation

Good phone etiquette doesn’t stop here. Being able to answer a call is just the start. If you’re serious about building a rapport, then you want your conversation to flow.

Before you even consider answering the phone, you may want to prepare a brief outline on how you’re going to answer.

This could be from introducing yourself and the company you’re answering for, down to asking who you are speaking with. By engaging in this initial interaction, it shows your customer that you are not only prepared, but that you’re interested in them. If your customer feels valued, they will want to start a conversation.

The art of a good conversation almost feels like a dying subject in this world of technology. With channels such as e-mail and twitter, whatever happened to a good old chat on the phone?

Message Direct can offer a best-of-both-worlds service – providing the technology of tomorrow with the courtesy and personality of yesterday. To find out how we can help, take a look at our services.

All staff are trained to the highest level of professionalism, to ensure call handling improves your customers experience.

Related questions

How do you end a call?

Even though the conversation is flowing well, you’re still on the clock and time is money. You have to consider other customers calls and not spend lengthy periods on one call.
Even though interrupting can be seen as rude, if you go about it in a polite way, your customer will understand.

As the conversation draws to a close, try to avoid asking any further questions to prompt more talking. After they have said their piece, just thank them for their time and end the call politely. Making a lasting impression is just as important as the first. You want your customer to get off the phone with a smile.

How can I sound professional over the phone

  • Sit up straight with your spine relaxed
  • Chin tilted up to clear your airwaves.
  • Speak loudly enough that you can be heard.
  • Take control of a situation.
  • Focus on your listeners needs.
  • Clear and concise wording.
  • Use body language to encourage your own speech.
  • Use specific wording from your business sector.