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Phone Answering Skills for Support Staff

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How you answer your phone can make or break your company. In the age where the Internet has become indispensable, the good old telephone is still a favorite when it comes to customer service. People still like speaking to a person rather than sending emails and wondering when they're going to get a response. The telephone is quicker and more enjoyable to use for a lot of clients.

Being such an important business tool, the telephone, if used properly, can turn enquiries into long time business. When providing customer service training for new staff, make sure you spend time training them on how the calls should be answered.

Here are some tips for you to consider:

1. Make sure everyone in your company answers the same way - mentioning their name and the name of your company in a courteous way. For example: "Good morning [name of your company] this is Samantha, how can I help you?

2. Make sure that you smile and sit up straight when you answer. That will insure you speak clearly and send out a welcoming and positive voice to the person calling.

3. Answer the call by the second ring.

4. If the person the caller is after is on another line, give him an option of either waiting or taking a message.

5. If that caller decides to hold, make sure you give him feedback every 30 seconds to see if he still wants to wait or leave a message.

6. If the caller wants to leave a message, take his name, phone number and company name. If you don't understand ask him to repeat or spell the name. This will make sure that your co-worker knows who he is calling back and asks for the right person.

7. When you take a message, make sure that the person it is for gets the message. Return your phone calls within 24 hours. If you are still waiting for an answer to a customer's question, make sure you call that person and explain that you haven't forgotten them and that you will get all the information to them as soon as possible. Keeping your clients informed of the progress of their request will be very appreciated and you will earn great respect from your clients.

8. Never put your clients on speaker phone. That is by far the rudest thing you could do to them. It will make them feel like there is no privacy in your conversation and may prevent them from telling you what their request is. If you must put them on speaker phone, ask their permission and let them know the reason why you must do it.

9. If you let your calls go to the company's answering machine, make sure the message is professional and said slowly and clearly to insure that your customers understand the instructions to follow. Mention the name of the business, why they got the answering machine i.e. state the opening hours, or public holidays, etc. If for a public holiday, mention when you will re-open (day and time).

10. If the calls go to your personal voice mail, record a message each day mentioning the date and if you are in the office or not. If you are not, give an alternative to reach you. Either your mobile number or the number of a person that could help them in your absence, or your email address if you can access your account from a distance.

In a nutshell, the key to answer your telephone calls is uniformity (making sure everyone answers the same way), professionalism (answer phones promptly and with a smile) and being courteous (make sure the calls are returned in a timely manner and keep your customers informed of the progress of their request). If in doubt, think about how you would like to be treated if you were the one calling with a problem!

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