How to answer phone calls effectively in 7 steps

The experience you give to your customers over the phone can make or break your business, no matter the size. Especially in remote communications, good customer service can be the difference between gaining or retaining customers, and losing them to your competitors. This is why excellent telephone answering skills are so important to business success. 

In a world where technology has given us so many different ways to communicate, it’s easy to forget that one of the most popular forms of customer communication is the good old-fashioned phone call

If you don’t have a plan in place, it can be easy to make a mistake – and you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. To ensure you maximise the opportunity to have positive interactions with your customers, we’ve put together a list of some of the most important points to remember when answering an incoming call. 

1. Answer incoming calls promptly

Customers who are eager to learn more about your business, ask a question or get a quote may feel frustrated if they have to wait a long time for their call to be answered. It can leave them feeling dismissed and undervalued – and they might just take their business elsewhere because of it.

With that in mind, you should always aim to answer customer calls within three rings. Leave it any longer than this, and you risk giving off the impression that your customer service desk is unmanned or understaffed. 

If for any reason you’re unable to take calls for a period of time – for example during lunch breaks – make sure that any calls are diverted to employees who have the capacity to handle the added workload.

For businesses that expect a large volume of calls on a daily basis, it may be worthwhile to consider diverting calls through a telephone answering service in order to avoid long queues and wait times.

2. Open the conversation enthusiastically and politely

The way you greet your customers is a simple thing, but it can have a big impact on how clients view your business. Most customers will want to make sure they’re talking to the right person before they dive into their reason for calling, so include your business’s name in the greeting to facilitate this. 

As well as considering what you’re saying, think about how you’re saying it. A friendly greeting and professional tone provides the caller with instant reassurance that you’ll take them seriously and treat them with respect, setting the tone for your future interactions with them. 

3. Listen, absorb and repeat back to the customer

The key to successful telephone answering is to be engaged and listen well. You can’t solve a problem without first understanding it, so let your customer explain the issue fully before you start offering solutions. Avoid interrupting wherever possible – it’s bad phone etiquette and can cause your customers to feel ignored and frustrated.

To check your understanding and reinforce to your customers that you’re listening attentively, don’t be afraid to repeat back the key points of the conversation. This can help to alleviate customers’ stress by reassuring them that you’re dedicated to finding a solution – and it can help you to spot mistakes and misunderstandings earlier in the interaction. 

4. Maintain a positive attitude

It can be hard to remain positive if you’re dealing with an upset or irate customer, but remember that they are looking to you to help them in whatever way you can. It’s your job to put them at ease with a calm, composed demeanour and use every available resource to find a solution. 

As well as making it more pleasant for customers to engage with you, staying calm also helps to avoid escalating the issue. Frustrated customers can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to remember that they’re angry at the problem they have, not at you specifically. 

5. Practise empathy

Empathy is one of the most important skills in customer service. Defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of one another, empathy is the act of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and looking at a problem from their perspective. This is a truly human trait that can’t be replicated by automated systems, which is why it’s so important to choose an effective human customer service approach. 

Showing your customers you care about their problems boosts customer satisfaction by making them feel more valued by your company. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, rather than being seen as just another number or transaction. The more you show your customers that their happiness matters to your business, the more loyal they will become over time.

6. Provide reassurance and set expectations

It’s not always possible to resolve a customer’s problem within the duration of a phone call, but that doesn’t mean you should turn the request away. Communicate with the customer what steps you’ll take to resolve their issue so that they understand what to expect after the call ends. 

It’s also a good idea to establish a time frame in which you’ll get back to the customer with an update. For instance, an appropriate response might be: “We’ll make this a priority and do X, Y and Z. We’ll get back to you within three working days to let you know what progress we’re making.” 

7. Take action!

Once you’ve set an expectation with a client, it’s vital that you stick to it. Your customers trust you to find a solution to their problem, so if you can’t even call them back when you said you will, they’ll lose their faith and loyalty to your business. Make sure to stick to your promises and action any request, raise complaints and pass messages to the appropriate team. This way, you’ll demonstrate to customers that you take them and their concerns seriously.

Feeling out of your depths when it comes to your business’s customer service needs? Take advantage of our call handling services and retain control over business decisions while we handle the everyday challenges of customer service. 

Here at AllDayPA, our team of call handlers and virtual receptionists are expertly trained to deliver high-quality customer service to every caller, every time – without fail. Our adaptable team is ready to help businesses of all sizes, whether you have five employees or five hundred. We’ll even help you select the right package for your customer service needs to ensure you get the very best deal. 

To get started transforming your telephone customer service offering, chat to us today.