Phone calls. Millennials are notorious for avoiding them, older people tend to prefer them, and toddlers practise making them on Fisher Price rotary phones that they will never see a working version of. My toddler is fascinated with the cordless phone at her Grandma's house, but panics and runs away when it actually rings. If you tend to do the adult version of this when the phone rings - here are some tips and tricks for answering the phone like a professional, be it for personal or business reasons.
Are you or your employees committing these phone sins?
Whether you're a people person or you absolutely hate picking up the phone to call a business, chances are you do make phone calls to businesses. Whether it's just for a quick question, to get a quote on a repair job or need to speak to a particular person at a business, you're likely speaking with a receptionist, employee or virtual answering service.
Have you ever encountered any of these? As business owners, how familiar are these annoying habits?
HABIT 1. Not letting the caller finish their sentences.
It's sweet when spouses and friends finish each others' sentences. What's not so sweet is when the stranger on the phone finishes yours. It's important to let someone talk - whether they are angry, confused or wanting to give you a compliment! Too often, people finish the caller's thoughts for them.
The fix? Allow your customers to get their point across, without interruption.
HABIT 2. Ending the call before the caller is finished speaking.
This can turn the most wonderful call sour. "Oh, just one more thing..." CLICK. So now the caller has to decide whether it was important enough to call back, or if they should let it go. This is why it's so important to have a clear closing to your call. The phone-answerer should outline next steps, ask if there's anything else they can help with and end the call with a clear "Goodbye!"
The fix? Follow a clear end of call script to ensure callers aren't left with more questions after the line goes dead.
HABIT 3. The real life ellipses of speaking... "Or..."
Trailing off in your sentences... in real life... is infuriating... I'm talking about the: "Should I ship it on Friday, or...?" The caller now wonders if you are thinking of an alternative to Friday, or waiting for them to choose the delivery date.
The fix? Finish your sentence! "Should I ship it on Friday, or is next week better?"
HABIT 4. Repeating each bit of information as it's said.
It's good practise to repeat a phone number or confirm the spelling of a name. (See our post here for more information on this!) It gets very annoying, very quickly when someone repeats your telephone number for you, number by number, as it's said.
"So my telephone number is 555-"
"Okay that's five - five - five..."
"Yes, 555 - 123"
"Okay, five... five... five... one... two... three..."
The fix? Let the customer finish saying the entire number or spelling of a word, and then clearly repeat it back to them, all at once.
HABIT 5. Mumbling, sounding too busy, or disinterested.
The caller went out of their way to dial you up. They are reaching out to your business to find out more information about you, schedule something or buy from you, or even find out if they're someone you're interested in doing business with. If they're met with someone who doesn't sound interested, clearly isn't wanting to help them, or is just way too busy to take a moment out of their day to interact with them - they're going to move on to someone who does want their business.
When someone calls your business, they've gone to more effort than simply filling out an online form. Do not neglect this extemely important part of your overall customer experience. 74% of people who have a bad phone experience with a business are likely to move onto the next one.
The fix? Have a talk with the people who answer your phones. If they are an employee of yours, remind them how important your callers are to your business. If they are truly too busy with other duties to give callers the attention they deserve, you may need to take something off their plate.
So those are our 5 most annoying phone habits to avoid - and the ways to fix them. Share this article with your employees and business owner friends. Have we missed any? What else annoys you?! Share in the comments below.
KELCOM's team of Virtual Receptionists are experts in business phone call handling. For more information on how handling business phone calls better can help your business, download our free e-book by clicking below.