Introduction to Telephone Skills, Part 2
“Can I help you?”
Does anyone of these telephone greetings sound polite, respectful, or interested in hearing from you? It’s easy to become easy to be very casual these days. Social Media is full of influencers and experts that want to speak with you as if they are your friends or family. Sure there is a place for informal and casual greetings. But informal is not professional. Let’s work on that together.
Let’s learn a more appropriate way.
If you haven’t read Part 1 of Telephone Skills, start there.
In Part 1 we describe telephone techniques speaking and listening, some telephone customer service skills which apply to every job position, as well as share a few telephone communication examples.
Respectful and Polite
Your parents have been telling you to be respectful and polite to people before you could speak. At least they should have been telling you. There is a reason for this. Being respectful shows the person you are speaking with that they are important to you in that moment. You have given them the courtesy of your respect as the starting point to your relationship with them. That relationship may last a moment. It may also last a career. You don’t know which it will be. But in business, you would like it to last your entire career.
Think about why
Business is, in its essence, providing a product or a service to people who want to pay you for that product or service. Very rarely are you or your company the only source of that product or service. The world is full of competitors offering your product or service – or something similar – to yours. These people are making decisions based upon the full value of that product or service, which includes YOU.
Effective telephone skills are a difference maker.
And You are Important
When you are hired by a company you become a part of that company. In that role, whatever it may be, you will be speaking on the phone, by video conference, or in person. You never know who will be calling or why.
Your greeting is a simple way to differentiate yourself from your peers and your company from its competitors.
The company you work with will be relying on you for many things. You are important to the company. Regardless of your role or position with the company, you are a representative of that company. And, the company will be paying attention to your representation of yourself, and by extension, the company.
So being polite and respectful to people within and outside your organization will directly impact the company and as we will discuss, your career.
You Never Know
Nope. You never know how important the person calling you will be to your career. So, answer the phone like you matter, your company matters, and the person calling matters.
- They could be an existing customer
- They could be a future boss or manager
- They could be a future mentor
- They could be a future co-worker
- They could be a future customer
Which would you like them to be? Each one could play a role in your career.
Which means that each time you greet someone by telephone it is an opportunity to advance your career.
Now about that Greeting
“Hi, This is [your first name] at [your company]. How are you today?”
“Hello, this is [your Name] with [your company]. How may I help you?”
They sound a bit formal don’t they? In truth, these are not formal greetings. A formal greeting is something like this:
“Hello you have reached [your first and last name] with [you company name] in [“Sales” or “Accounting” or “Billing”…]. How may I be of service to you today?”
Some companies still answer calls in this formal manner. There is nothing wrong with that. Formality is expected in certain industries and not expected in others.
But what is always expected is a polite and interested greeting.
The Difference Maker
The difference maker in any phone conversation is your tone. Work on it. Practice it. It should sound comfortable and say “I’m pleased to be speaking with you.”
However, we live in the real world. Things change all the time. Every day won’t be cheerful and bright. You won’t be happy or jolly every day. Some days you won’t feel particularly well. Some days you may feel terrible. Some days you’ll be tired. Some days you’ll be counting the minutes before you can leave for the day.
But what won’t change? Your tone that says I am pleased that you called me.
Practice and a Benchmark
That tone only comes from practice. Record yourself and listen to the tone of your greeting. The goal is to find a benchmark that IS the tone you wish to convey on your best days.
Record yourself. Listen to the tone of your voice. Does it say “I’m pleased that you called? Does it say “I’m not feeling well.”? Does it say, “I don’t want to be doing this right now.”? It’s ok to hear those tones when you practice. You’ll know what they are. It’s different for everyone. It’s unique to you. And when you practice you’ll hear yourself when you pick up the phone at work for real. It won’t always be perfect.
That’s when you can rely on that tone you set up as a benchmark and, that one time you are not “feeling it” that tone still comes through. Because we all have days we’d rather be doing something else or we are not feeling right. But,
We are career minded people. Everything counts. Every opportunity matters. A simple, well executed greeting is a great skill.
Look for Telephone Skills 3, coming soon!