We hear from some of our customers that they find it difficult to have an effective phone conversation with their customers. It is understandable. Much like texting can go wrong because you cannot pick up on the tone that someone is using, phone conversations are difficult without seeing someone’s face and body language. This can lead to some unfortunate misinterpretations.

The problem is, many small businesses rely heavily on the phone to communicate with their customers, meaning that there is a great risk of being misunderstood and accidentally offending a customer. We have come up with 5 ways that you can speak more effectively and accurately with your customers on the phone.

Remember People’s Names
People love to be referred to by their name. It acknowledges that you have listened to them, boosts their ego a little bit, and it will make them like you a bit more. Using a customer’s name is a powerful tool, which is why we always ask for a name early in the conversation and then remember it and use it.

Watch Your Tone
This is where texting so often goes wrong. If you someone something meaning to be sarcastic, the tone doesn’t come across, and it can often come off as offensive. With a phone, you do have the tone of your voice to help you communicate clearly, so use it – the right way! We train our operators to “have a smile in their voice,” which really means to smile while you are talking on the phone. Try it, you will be surprised at how this will change the tone of your voice on the phone, which your customers will appreciate.

Don’t Be A Robot
Do not fall into the trap of saying the exact same thing to every caller. Of course, we use a script to help us with the opening of any phone call (and I would strongly encourage you to as well!), but from there we train our operators to be sincere. We listen to callers to make sure that we understand what it is that they are calling about, and we will talk to them accordingly. Callers can tell if you have tuned them out and you are only trying to get the information from them as quickly as possible. Listen, ask clarifying questions, and use the proper emotions.

Speak Clearly
Remember, the caller cannot see you so you have to speak more clearly when you are on the phone. In a face-to-face conversation, when someone is having trouble understanding, he or she will look at a speaker’s lips to help them to understand what is being said. You do not have that luxury on a phone call. You must speak clearly so that your customer can understand every word that you say.

Put Your Customer First
Remember, your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you don’t have a business. You want to make sure that you leave each customer with a good impression of you and your business each and every time that they call. Take the time to spend with the customer, and make sure that he or she is satisfied before you hang up. We train our operators to ask if there is anything else that we can do for a caller. This simple question does two things – First, it gives an easy way to know if the phone call is finished. And second, it gives the caller the opportunity to ask anything else. The last thing that you want is someone feeling that you rushed them off of a phone because you did not have time for them.

These 5 tips will help you to greatly improve your customer service over the phone. And this is something that we know a little bit about as an answering service. For more than 25 years we have been answering calls for businesses, medical offices, hospitals, government organizations, and law firms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If you ever need help with taking calls, whether it is all of your calls, just when you are busy, or after hours, we can help.