Understanding Proper Phone Etiquette at Workplace
The word “Etiquette” means a set of customs and rules for polite behavior especially among a particular class of people or in a particular profession. In other words, etiquette is a set of regulations that control accepted behavior in particular social groups or social situations. In the workplace, employees and members of staff are expected to behave in a professional and civic manner. They are guided by rules and code of conduct and are expected to be polite when writing or replying to emails, as well as when talking to clients. The same applies to phone calls at the workplace.
The telephone is the first touch-point people have with most businesses. Despite the strides, advancements, and milestones recorded in digital communication (which includes automated answering services, emails, and text messages), communication through the phone remains important in workplaces and organizations. Most clients, partners, and customers prefer using phone calls to make initial contact and start communication. Also, most customers and clients arguably use phone calls to have the first impression about an organization; be it positive or negative. Therefore, it is important to put in place, proper phone etiquette in companies, businesses, and organizations.
What is Phone Etiquette?
The concept of phone etiquette involves the way employees use manners and politeness to represent themselves, and their organizations to prospective and existing clients through the telephone. It encompasses the tone of voice, greeting customers, body language, listening skills, choice of words, and how calls are closed respectively.
Proper phone etiquette at the workplace contributes to the growth of organizations worldwide; when customers and clients feel impressed and satisfied with the way they were spoken or listened to via the phone; they tend to continue collaborating with your organization. In contrast, poor phone etiquette has been reported to harm businesses and firms. Despite this, some employers continually fail to give their workers orientation and crash courses, on how to be professional when answering or making official and professional calls.
Similarly, proper phone etiquette should not be restricted to receptionists, secretaries, or front office staff alone. Every member of staff should be trained on how to navigate through phone calls properly at the workplace. They should be made to inculcate and utilize best practices during phone calls because, there are smaller things you might not think of, that adds up to a bad customer or client experience. These bad client experiences are capable of ruining and hurting your organization’s reputation in the long term. For this reason, every phone interaction is critical.
Why is Phone Etiquette in the Workplace Important?
The importance of phone etiquette to an organization cannot be overemphasized; it gives employees a framework to work with. Thus, identifying the tools to achieve proper phone etiquette enables organizations and business to;
- Create a good first and lasting impression
- Show professionalism
- Increase customer and client trust and loyalty
- Achieve higher customer satisfaction ratings
Characteristics of Proper Phone Etiquette at the Workplace
Organizations and individuals should imbibe the following features and elements to achieve proper phone etiquette in the workplace;
- Friendly greetings
- Body language
- Tone of voice
- Active listening
- Appropriate closing
Friendly Greetings: The first impression they say matters a lot in the work sector; so also is greeting when answering or making official phone calls. As an employee or organization, always show a cheerful and positive disposition when answering official phone calls. You should be friendly by offering salutations and allowing the positivity embedded in you, to resonate in your voice. In addition, politely thank the client for calling and subtly introduce the organization and yourself by name. Subsequently, offer your help to the customer or client by asking what you can do for them. This will give the client or whoever is calling, a sense that you are warm, alert, and excited to help them with their inquiries or problems. People often mimic positivity and will probably respond to your voice with the same enthusiasm and energy you portray.
Body Language: One may want to ask, how does a person on the other side of a phone call see or read body language? The answer is simple; body language can be felt. When an individual speaks on the phone, their feelings can still be communicated by their body language. For example, when you smile and sit up straight, your voice is likely lighter; customers and clients can easily decipher and translate it to mean you are cheerful. Relatively, research has shown that body language plays a key and vital role in effective communication both in-person and on phone calls. When you are speaking on the phone, make sure that your facial expression, gestures, and body language remain strictly professional. Don’t send the wrong message to your clients by maintaining poor and nonchalant posture.
The tone of Voice: The tone you use to speak to customers and clients is another element to consider. Regardless of the situation, ensure that you don’t appear or sound rude, disrespectful, or cocky. Do away with thoughts or emotions that might make your tone appear harsh when making or receiving workplace phone calls. In addition, adopt a confident tone of voice to limit interruptions and maintain a professional engagement. You want the caller to know you are taking time to understand their questions and inquiries, while also delivering prompt service. The tone of your voice is an important factor in proper phone call manners, since a caller may form an opinion of your organization based on your attitude over the phone.
Tact: Tact is another element or feature of proper phone etiquette at the workplace. Tact is the skill and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues. How do you deliver information that might potentially upset your client or customer over the phone? What should your choice of words be in such a situation? The answer is simple; be tactful. Remain calm, consider and use words that will soothe your caller despite the upsetting nature of the information. Also, make sure you tell your client the truth without offending them. If you don’t have an answer for them, be sure to offer them additional resources.
Active Listening: Effective communication entails active listening. When you listen actively, you don’t just hear words but pay attention to the complete message being passed. Also, active listeners don’t bring counter-arguments to the conversation. Employees and organizations should imbibe in them, the active listening skills needed to achieve excellent and proper phone etiquette at the workplace. Clients and customers appreciate when they are heard or listened to; therefore, endeavor to give your undivided attention, minimize distractions, avoid interruptions and make your clients happy. Taking notes and repeating requests back to the caller lets them know that you care, and are listening to only their needs at the time of the phone conversation. You will respond to your client’s requests appropriately and effectively when you listen actively.
Appropriate Closing: Remember that closing a call can be just as important as the way you begin one. Before saying goodbye to your caller, thank them again and ask if you can assist them with anything else. Closing the call this way assures your caller that your organization provides thorough customer service. Develop the habit of allowing the customer to hang up first, to minimize accidental hang-ups. Don’t undo all the hard work you did at the beginning and during the call by closing abruptly. You will jeopardize your organization’s reputation when you hang up before your caller, even if it’s accidental. The process of ending calls appropriately also applies to situations where you are the caller. When you make phone calls to relay information to customers or potential employees, for instance, make sure you end and hang the call politely. Show appreciation for their time and acknowledge their contributions as well.
Tips to Improve the Quality of Phone Etiquette at the Workplace
To improve phone etiquette at the workplace, the following tips and action steps should be considered;
- Answer the call within the first two or three rings: Don’t keep your clients waiting for too long before answering the call. Provide a quick answer to your client’s phone call and let them know that their business is of enormous importance to you.
- Identify yourself and your business at the beginning of all calls: Make sure you let your customers know that they called the right place by identifying yourself and your organization at the beginning of the call. This makes clients more comfortable sharing their reasons for calling and who to ask for next time.
- Let positivity resonate in your voice: Ensure that your voice exudes positivity when talking on the phone with clients.
- Minimize interruptions: Take a moment before you answer a phone call to keep the items you were working on aside. You can turn your back from crowded office space to answer your call for example.
- Be honest: Prioritize honesty over trying to make your customers happy. If there is something you can’t do for them, tell them politely and honesty instead of leading them on.
- Ask the caller before placing them on hold: You may need to place a client on hold to get more information for them. For example, you can say “Would you mind if I placed you on a brief hold to better assist you?” When you ask callers before placing them on hold, they get the feeling that you are working on assisting them to the best of your ability. It also displays professional courtesy.
- Minimize emotional reaction: Keep your emotions in check; even if the call becomes exhaustive and provocative, maintain a positive attitude throughout.
- Make sure clients’ needs are met before closing the call: The goal of answering phone calls is to ensure that customer needs and requests are met one way or another. Customers may forget about other requests they have during the conversation. Ask them if their needs have been met or if they have further questions or requests.
Professional phone skills might not be the first thing people think of when they think about how people perceive their organization. But even with digital advancement, sometimes people just want to talk to a real person via the phone. Therefore, understand the proper phone etiquette discussed above and take your organization to greater heights.