The first point of contact for most businesses is via phone. Like it or not, this is the moment when how you present yourself is the make or break in your customers decision to use your services.

Think about who is responsible for answering the phone in your company, are you 100% sure that they have the skills to make the customers first experience with your business a pleasant and efficient one?

Here are just a few simple tips on how to improve phone manner.

1-      Have a naturally friendly tone, this can be easily achieved, even if you are having a rotten day by smiling. Smiling while talking forces your voice to lift and sound cheerful which is all too important when you consider that tone is at least 50% of communication in a phone call.

2-      Make sure you have pen and paper at hand before taking a call. Be prepared to take down information, nothing sounds more unprofessional than hearing someone scrabbling around for a pen on the other end of the phone. Or worse, yelling across the office for one.

3-      Make use of the hold button, instead of covering up the receiver with your hand or setting it down on the desk. The benefits are twofold, one – you will look like the slick professional company that you are by avoiding the possibility of unwanted information being heard, and two – you can use the wait time to broadcast calming music and subtle sales ads. Be sure to ask the caller for their permission to put them on hold first.

4-      As much as possible, let the customer reach someone with answers who can help them straight away.  The person answering the phone ideally should have a broad knowledge of the company and be able to assist with most customers enquiries. People hate to be bounced around the phone system and even worse be told that they can’t be helped at this time.

5-      Keep an eye on your language. Avoid slang, abbreviations and filler words like ‘um’. While it’s important to treat the customer as a friend, they need to hear a professional voice before they make the decision to deal with your company. Strike the right balance of friendly and professional.

A great phone manner doesn’t always come naturally, but is simple to learn with a little practise. Ensure that your team is projecting a professional image in all areas of the business, especially in that all-too-important first contact phone call.