We all spend a lot of time on the phone, talking with customers, colleagues and managers. Can you imagine doing your job without your cell phone? I can’t.
Our employers and organizations spend a lot of money providing us with the latest phone technology … or we spend our own money doing it. Yet, making the most of this mission-critical resource has little to do with the technology of the tool. It has everything to do with the simple communication strategies blended with uncommon sense and uncommon courtesy of the user.
Before discussing some simple strategies to help you increase your Phone Power, consider two over-arching concepts relating to putting yourself where your callers are. Listen to your voice mail greeting from two perspectives.
1. How do you sound? Is your tone of voice professional, courteous and enthusiastic? Do you sound like someone you’d like to do business with today? If not, re-record your greeting until you’re happy with how you sound. Your tone of voice has a lot of influence over the professional image you project. Make sure it’s the best possible image you can create.
2. What do you say? Does every word have value for your callers? Do you waste their time with such trite phrases as “I’m away from my desk or on the other line …” or “But your call is very important to me …”? Do you insult your callers’ intelligence by telling them to wait for the beep and leave your name and phone number? If you’re not happy with the message the message in your greeting delivers, do something about it. You may need to get approval at work, so make sure you have logical, caller-friendly reasons for any changes.
Now, here are 10 simple, but not necessarily easy, Power Phone Strategies.
#1 – When you answer the phone, greet the caller with enthusiasm and energy. The first few words out of your mouth will set the tone for the conversation and project your image as an enthusiastic professional.
#2 – Ask for the caller’s name if he or she doesn’t offer it. Ask the caller to spell it if needed and make sure you can pronounce it correctly. Use it during the first few seconds, several times during the call and end with the caller’s name. But, don’t overdo it or you’ll sound like a telemarketer.
#3 – Take brief notes during the call as needed, but don’t doodle. Indicate your need to take notes very early in the call.Occasionally ask for a brief pause so you can catch up.
#4 – Use business-like body posture that keeps you alert. Smile and use gestures when speaking. Callers can hear your smile. They can also hear your slouch. Look like you would if you were having a face-to-face interaction with the caller.
#5- Match the pace of speaking with the caller to build rapport. Use pauses effectively to slow down so the caller can follow what you’re saying and understand your message. Silence is Golden!
#6 – Vary your inflection to avoid sounding monotone, bored or uninterested in the call. Sound enthusiastic, but sincere.
#7 – Use a professional but conversational vocabulary and grammar. Sound like a real person who is also a business professional.
#8 – Listen intensely to the caller’s words, tone of voice and expression of feeling. Be patient and don’t interrupt. Ask lots of good questions. Repeat or rephrase the caller’s comments to show you are listening and to verify accuracy.
#9 – Ask permission to put the caller on hold or transfer the call to someone else rather than just doing it. Such uncommon courtesy builds rapport and enhances your professional image.
#10 – End the call with sincere thanks and appreciation. Be positive and courteous, especially if the caller discussed a problem or complaint. Focus on positive results.
You can start using these simple strategies immediately. They all work, but you have to make them work for you. By incorporating uncommon sense and uncommon courtesy into your daily phone conversations, you’ll achieve a higher and more satisfying level of Phone Power.