By: Eric Thorn
In today’s business world we all communicate a great deal by email, text and through numerous other popular electronic platforms. It’s not news anymore, especially for those under 30, that even on our personal time we use cell phones more for text and email than for voice calls. Unless the zombie apocalypse takes down the grid, it doesn’t seem that our communicating with text, tweets, snapchat, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc. will be going anywhere anytime soon. And that’s good because there are several benefits of all these types of communication in both business and personal settings.
However, even though we are not calling people as often, phone calls are still a very important business tool. Sometimes a confusing text, questions about the sender’s intent or a complicated situation make picking up the phone the best option. It’s amazing how often a quick conversation can clear things up.
We all know how to text, but do we still remember how to use a phone for talking? Being able to properly start, end and communicate a clear message verbally on the phone is as important as ever and impacts the listener’s impression of the person calling.
Recently I received a call very similar to the following:
Me: Hello, may I help you.
Caller: um…Is Kelly there? (sound was muffled)
Me: I’m sorry, she’s not here right now.
Caller: (pause) Uh. . . ok.
Me: (pause) Would you like to leave a message?
Caller: Umm. No.
Me: (pause) Ok, well, have a good day.
I’m guessing everyone has figured out that this is an example of very poor telephone communication style.
On the other end of the spectrum, at a recent conference I met someone in-person for the first time whom I had spoken with on the phone on several occasions prior to our meeting in-person. Because she always had such a clear and positive communication style on the phone, I immediately had a positive impression of her and was more open to what she had to say. Imagine if our calls were related to setting up her job interview for a job at our company. She would definitely have a leg up.
The following are some good tips on phone communications that will help you achieve the goals of your call more effectively and will reflect well on you as a professional:
- Have your notes. It is usually helpful to jot a couple of notes down before your call so that you can hit your key points. Definitely have pencil and paper in your hand before you dial, in case you need to make a few notes or to write down a different phone number.
- Location, location, location. Hold the phone or position the mic so that your mouth is immediately in front of the handset or microphone so that you voice will come across clearly. Take out or swallow anything in your mouth.
- Turn the volume up. Speak in a clear, pleasant and engaging voice – experts say a smile impacts how your voice comes through to the listener. Your goal is not to be one of “the Loud Family” from Saturday Night Live or the “Soft-talker” from Seinfeld – but make sure to speak with enough volume so that the listener can hear you easily and clearly. Starting a call out with the listener having to explain that they can’t hear you or can’t understand what you are saying wastes both of your time and does not set a positive initial tone.
- Hello, my name is. Start off with a proper greeting and identify yourself. “Hello, this is Bob Smith.” For business calls avoid using slang.
- Break it down. Let them know who you are trying to reach, and if appropriate where you are calling from and/or the purpose of you call. “Hello, this is Bob Smith from A-Z Management, I’m calling for Kelly Underwood in response to her information request.”
- Don’t forget “Please” and “Thank you”. This is just common courtesy, when the other person on the call offers to check for you, or offers to take a message for you.
- Be prepared to leave a concise and effective message. You should to include name, company, reason for call, and a return number. Be sure to speak clearly and enunciate, and when it comes to your phone number, read it slowly enough so the listener has enough time to write it down. It’s never fun to have to play a message back several times just to figure out who called or what the return number was.
Following these simple tips should help to make your calls more effective and more pleasantly received.
Happy texting and dialing!
Please text, email or call the author with your comments or suggestions.