Despite the prevalence of email, messaging and social media, the vast majority of business is still conducted by phone, especially the all-important first contact. Keeping that in mind it is absolutely imperative that you and your team are confident and skilled enough to turn that call into sales.

Kick start the year off by having a mandatory phone manner training session. Even the seasoned employee can get complacent over time, so retrain and refresh the team with these five simple practises when answering the phone.

  • Lift your voice naturally by smiling. Before picking up the phone take a breath and smile, this will give you great natural positive tone that the caller will respond to. The person on the other end of the line can’t see a friendly face; they only have your voice cues to go on.
  • Eliminate vagueness. Have concrete options available for the customer, for example: When finding information for them ask ‘Would you like to hold, or I could call you back once I have that information?’ instead of ‘would you like to hold or…’ Unfinished sentences sound highly unprofessional.
  • Avoid negative trigger phrases like ‘It’s not my department.’ You work for a company and are its face at the time of the call. Try to have a good general knowledge of the business so you can help the customer as required, feel free to transfer the call to the appropriate person but swap the comment ‘not my department’ for ‘I’ll transfer you to Jane, our account manager.’
  • Use the hold button. Instead of covering the receiver with your hand as you do background work, make use of the hold button. It is so much more professional and allows you to type, riffle through paperwork or confer with your workmates without the risk of the customer overhearing.
  • Be prepared with pen and paper. Most phone calls require names, phone numbers and other information to be recorded. Be sure to have paper and pens ready to go beside the phone , as having to scrabble around for supplies comes off badly to the caller.

These five simple tips will improve your customer experience, happier customers who feel that they are in professional hands are more likely to buy, don’t let bad phone manner be an obstacle to sales in your company.