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Business phone etiquette: the do's and don'ts

Published in Customer Contact

Especially for employees who work in customer service and make a lot of phone calls, we have compiled a small list of etiquette rules.

This will give you a guideline of 'how things should be done' on the phone and how best to make business calls.

The rules for making business calls are slightly different from how to make a private call. So take a moment to read this article carefully. You can use them for an incoming phone call and for an outgoing call.

A telephone conversation has 5 phases, each of which has its own rules of conduct.

If you follow them, even the most difficult conversations will be concluded as pleasantly as possible. The right conversation rules ensure that customers feel heard and hang up with a satisfied feeling.

This allows you to do your job on the phone better and with more pleasure.

Phase 1. Picking up the phone

The way the phone is answered sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. In any case, make sure you speak clearly, say your name, the name of the organisation and ask what you can do for the caller.

If the customer has had to wait on hold for a long time, it is a good idea to also thank them for their patience.

Stage 2. During the conversation

During the conversation, there are a few etiquette rules that make having a business conversation more pleasant for both you and the caller:

  • Listening, summarising and questioning

For any telephone operator, listening, summarising, asking through is a golden rule. Always let the customer finish and listen carefully to the story or question. In between questions, confirm that you have heard the customer.

Show that you have understood correctly by summarising the customer's question and ask if anything needs further explanation.

This way, the customer feels heard and you can get to the essence of the customer's question.

  • Include the customer in the process

If you need to research or look something up, indicate this clearly, as the customer cannot see what you are doing.

Therefore, if it takes a bit longer or there are some silences in the conversation, the caller will know why.

  • Speak clearly

Speak clearly and at a good intelligible volume. Make sure you articulate clearly and speak calmly so that the customer can understand you well. If you cannot understand the customer well, it is important to indicate this in time or ask for clarification.

Stage 3 (possibly). Putting the customer on hold

If you need some time to sort something out or consult with a colleague, putting the customer on hold is a great solution.

Always inform the customer if you are going to do this. Be clear and try to give an indication of the expected time. If this is not possible, you can come back to the customer in between to indicate that you need some more time. Because the customer knows where he stands, you avoid unnecessary irritation.

Phase 4. Transfer

Occasionally, a caller may not have reached the right department, or the customer may need to be transferred for some other reason. It is always best to put through 'warm'. Give the next colleague the name of the person you are going to put through and why.

This way, the customer doesn't have to tell his story all over again and your colleague can already get the correct information. This is a pleasant and efficient way of transferring calls for both your colleague and the customer.

Stage 5. Ending the call

When you are confident that you have helped the customer with all their questions, it is time to end the call. Thank the customer for calling and wish them a good day, this will give a positive ending to the conversation.

It is always best to let the customer hang up by themselves. That way, you can be sure you don't hang up yourself before the customer might ask one last question.

Non-verbal communication

It is important to pay attention not only to what you say but also how you convey it non-verbally.

Sit well upright, this way you can breathe better and speak more clearly.

It is also important not to eat or drink while speaking.

Finally, it is important to smile! After all, if you are in a good mood yourself, you will also convey this to the other end of the line!
By applying the above etiquette rules during the call, you offer the caller an optimal customer experience.

As the company's business card, it is necessary to be customer-oriented and to live up to a professional image. By familiarising yourself with these skills and forms of politeness, you will find that conversations run more smoothly and you let customers end the call with a satisfied feeling.

Frequently asked questions

1. How should you make business calls?

When making business phone calls, take good note of the rules of manners and behaviour for having a good business conversation in a friendly manner.

2. How do you make formal calls?

If you want to call formally and your interlocutor is someone who calls on business, it is always good to speak to each other in a calm tone and very politely. Do not pretend you are having a conversation with someone you know from your class. Pay close attention to your conversational skills and communication.

3. How to make a professional phone call ?

By speaking calmly, politely and clearly, you are already very professional. It is also important to let the customer finish talking. And try to ask good questions when you get someone on the line.

4. What to do when an angry customer calls ?

If an angry customer calls try to stay calm and take note of the complaint. You don't have to apologise straight away as long as you keep listening and asking good questions. Transfer the complaint to the appropriate colleague and try to honour agreements made.

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