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. Good customer experience, especially when delivered remotely – with the customer taking time out of their day to get in touch with your team – can be the difference between gaining, retaining, or losing them. This is why your telephone answering skills are paramount to your business success.

In a world where technology has changed the way we communicate and interact with one another, it’s easy to forget one of the most effective ways to reach out to others – the good old-fashioned telephone call.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and some things only take seconds to ruin. To ensure you maximise this opportunity to have positive interactions with 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 

The first thing you need to do is answer promptly. If you’re expecting a call or have put a sign on your door saying you’re closed for lunch or a meeting, then make sure that any calls are diverted to another employee who can take the call, or set up a voicemail message that’ll instruct your customers on what to do in your absence. Having a professional greeting in place can help to make the caller feel valued. Further, you should aim to answer within three rings – any longer and the customer service division of your brand may give off the impression of being unmanned.

If you are a business that faces an extreme volume of calls on a daily basis, diverting your calls to a telephone answering service or directing calls through a virtual switchboard can make a huge difference when customers are expected to wait in a queue. 

2. Open the conversation enthusiastically and politely

When we say that something as simple as your business phone greeting can make a world of difference, we mean it.

Firstly, all customers want to establish who they are talking to before they dive into their query or reason for calling. This helps to confirm, in the caller’s mind, that they are through to the correct business. How you deliver those first sentences will play an integral role in first impressions. Remember to ensure all phone conversations are carried out with a friendly greeting and professional tone – this provides the caller with instant reassurance and comfort.

Your business greeting will set the scene for how your callers perceive your business, so it’s important to get it right. You want your callers to feel like they have reached a professional business that they can trust, so make sure your phone opening sentence is up to scratch.

3. Listen, absorb and repeat back to the customer

The key to navigating a successful call is through engaging and listening. You cannot solve a problem without a detailed understanding of the matter. For this reason, you should allow your caller to communicate with you before offering any kind of solution. Listen deeply. It is bad business phone etiquette to interrupt the customer, and it will only make them feel unheard and frustrated.

Make sure that your customers know that you are listening by summarising key points from their issues. This shows customers that you have been paying attention and assures them that their problem is important to you. Customers will also appreciate that you are taking the time to understand what they are saying, which can help to alleviate some stress that they may be feeling in the situation.

4. Maintain a positive attitude

The key to this is your tone of voice. An agent that is calm, collected and friendly throughout an entire phone call will instantly ease the caller. 

When you’re on the phone with a potential client or an unhappy client, you want to be put at ease as soon as possible. Your tone of voice will set the tone for how your listener feels about you. If you remain helpful, professional and kind throughout the duration of the phone call, then you are instantly more likeable and easy to talk to – that’s what the caller wants from you.

If you are faced with an upset customer, the first thing to understand is that they are not angry at you personally or at your product or service. The source of their frustration comes from their failure in achieving what they desire. They have been promised an outcome and have been unable to achieve it. When we stay calm, we are better able to build rapport with customers and use every available resource to find a solution for them.

5. Practice empathy

Customer service is built on empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is the act of putting yourself in someone else’s situation and seeing a problem from their point of view. As our society becomes more automated, it can be easy to lose sight of this valuable tool that cannot be replaced by technology. The act of connecting with someone on an emotional level will always be important, especially when it comes to customer service.

The benefits of empathy in customer service are endless and will ultimately lead to better customer satisfaction. It shows your customers that you truly care about them and their problems, which will make them feel more valued and appreciated by your company.

Customers like to feel like they aren’t just another number or transaction but rather an individual who matters to you personally. The more you show your customers that their happiness matters most, the more loyal they will become over time.

6. Provide reassurance and set expectations

The vast majority of the time, clients or potential customers aren’t calling without a reason. Whether they are looking for an answer to a question, a reference to a different department or a resolution to their problem, it is your responsibility to identify a solution. Sometimes, it may not be possible to find an answer there; therefore, it is vital to clarify that you will take the necessary steps to find this solution for them.

It is also important that you do not give false expectations or promises. If you tell someone that you will call them back by 5pm with an update on their request, it is critical that you do so. The customer will likely be waiting for your call and if you don’t call back when promised, this would most likely lead to more frustration and disappointment with the service they have received from your business.

7. Take action!

Call handling runs deeper than just speaking to clients day in and day out. The important part is actioning any requests, raising any complaints or passing messages to the appropriate person. 

Ready to take your customer service to the next level? Utilise our professional telephone answering services

Here at alldayPA, our team of call handlers and virtual receptionists are expertly trained to take calls. More importantly, they are trained to deliver high-quality customer service to every caller, every time – without compromise. 

Are you looking for a team of specialists to take calls on your behalf? Do you need help taking messages and booking appointments? We’re here to help you, no matter what the situation may be. 

If you’d like to make use of a dedicated team that is committed to enhancing your client communications, chat to us today. We’ll help you in selecting a complete virtual assistant package or a small team of agents to handle your high call volume. 

Let’s transform your telephone customer service – let’s work together.