Your telephone is an important communications tool so love it or hate it, you need to know how to use it properly if you want to present a good business image. Develop your company’s phone protocol and see to it that all those who will be using the telephone on your business premises are trained in proper telephone etiquette. If you are operating a home business and you have small children, teach them that the business phone is for business calls only and they are not to answer it. Letting your child take calls may seem cute but it is likely to be seen as unprofessional and does not project a good image. Establishing the proper tone of voice immediately identifies your business style. A pleasant greeting should be standard company policy.
An abrupt or rushed telephone manner does not project a positive image about your business. Smile while talking on the phone and your voice will always sound friendly and warm. Try it; you can’t sound grumpy or unpleasant if you are smiling. Business calls are not for social chit chat; they should be short and to the point. Some pleasantries are nice, but if you are calling someone, have your points written down before hand so you don’t waste time or forget anything you want to say. If there is an account or letter you will be discussing have everything in front of you before you start your call. The other day I tried to decipher a message on my answering machine and had to replay it three times before I was able to understand the caller’s name and return phone number. When I finally did get the message written down, I did not feel much like calling back. Speak slower than you normally would when leaving messages.
Identify yourself, state the reason for your call and leave your phone number in a manner that will allow the recipient ample time to write it down. It is good to mention a time when a return call is convenient to avoid playing “telephone tag.” It is helpful if you restate your name and phone number again at the end of your message.
If you are too busy to speak to a caller, it’s better to use your answering machine. Try to avoid putting your callers on hold. Always have a pen and paper handy to jot down numbers or messages. If taking a message for someone else, write it down and then read it back to the person who called to be sure you got it right. Some numbers sound very similar so enunciate the numbers slowly and clearly. Be sure to write down the full name. You may be talking to your callers from a very small room in your own home but you can still sound like a Fortune 500 company if you consistently use good telephone technique – and keep smiling.