In today's fast-paced business world, telephone communication is more important than ever. With the proliferation of cell phones, business is conducted 24/7 and the phone has become our lifeline. It is more important than ever to be aware of cell phone etiquette and manners. When you learn how to communicate by phone, both in your personal life and in business, you will find that people treat you with more respect.
Phone etiquette tips:
- Plan the call. Always jot down key objectives before making a call. What are you trying to accomplish? What outcome are you expecting? How will you deal with objections? By setting an agenda, you are showing respect to the person you are calling and acknowledging his or her busy schedule.
- Know who you are calling. When you are making a call, getting the other person's name right is critical. Understand that person's position in the organization and acknowledge this in your greeting.
- Be polite. This should be obvious, but being polite doesn't just mean treating the person you are calling with respect. This should extend to the person answering the phone or to the message that you leave on voice mail. Many business people rely on voice mail to screen calls, and your approach can make the difference as to whether or not they return your call. Be careful to keep your tone of voice modulated and never indicate impatience at having to leave a message. If the technology allows, review your message before hitting "send." Many systems allow for you to erase and re-record your message. If that's the case, do it!
- Introduce yourself. Make sure that your party knows who you are, what company you represent and the nature of your call. This applies whether you reach the person's voice mail or connect in person. Speak clearly and slowly.
- Get to the point. Once you are successful in reaching your party and have introduced yourself, get to the point. One of the main phone etiquette tips is not to waste another's time. Idle chit-chat will only indicate that you do not respect your party's time. Let the person know why you are calling and use your notes to keep your agenda clear.
- Listen. Allow the person you are calling to ask questions and convey his or her point of view. Do not interrupt, and answer questions honestly and directly. Even if you are met with objections, allow the individual to finish before jumping in with your defense. Be courteous and check your attitude frequently. Indicate that you are listening by saying, "I see," "I understand," or simply, "Yes," but refrain from other comment until the individual is finished.
- Ask open-ended questions. Encourage a free flow of dialogue by asking questions that require the person to respond fully. You can learn a lot from this type of exchange and this often leads to further discussion.
- Be patient. Any etiquette guide will always tell you to never try to rush a call, and allow the individual to fully express his or her opinions, reactions, etc.
- Know when to end the call. There is generally a point at which it becomes clear that the call should be concluded, and trying to extend the call to reach additional objectives can be counterproductive. Sometimes the person you have called may seem to want to extend the conversation, and you will need to politely conclude the conversation without offending the individual. Use positive statements such as "I know you are busy, and want to thank you for your time" to politely signal the end of the conversation.
Remember to always treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself, and you can't go wrong!