In many companies and particularly in small business, the first ever contact with a potential customer is likely to be by telephone.

Some companies regard this position as one of the most crucial in their whole company, as perhaps for 99% of the people they deal with, their first and most significant impression of the company, is the person answering the telephone.

Courtesy and attention to detail are critical issues.

In any business, there are considerations to ensure you represent your business in the most professional light possible.

  • Answer promptly – within 3 rings.
  • Start calls by identifying yourself, company, position etc.
  • If phoning in, enquire if it is convenient to proceed.
  • If an incoming call is not convenient, explain why and take the persons details and offer to phone back.
  • Establish and use the other person’s name early in the conversation.
  • Listen and try not to interrupt.
  • Demonstrate you are listening by saying ‘yes’, ‘really’ or similar.
  • Concentrate – give the caller your undivided attention.
  • Make notes and read back key points to demonstrate your attentiveness.
  • Explain delays in dealing with the call if the caller has to wait.
  • Be helpful – offer help, don’t wait to be asked.
  • Control the call by assertive behaviour.
  • Finally, recap what you are going to do as a result of the call.
  • Smile. Your body language will transmit, and you will sound more assertive and friendly.

At the end of every telephone call, see if you can leave the other person thinking: ‘I am pleased that I spoke to you today.’

The telephone is an opportunity to motivate and inspire, so use it well!