First impressions count – the incoming call

I seem to have focused in rather earlier than intended on first impressions and the telephone, so I’m going to stay with that theme a little longer, this time looking at how the incoming business call is received.

The “Nobody Home” Syndrome
Depending on the size of your company, the nature of your business, and the time of year, to name but three contributing factors, there are doubtless going to be occasions when telephone callers will hear a recorded message. That’s quite acceptable, whether it is the main business number or voice mail on your own extension, but:
When did you last listen to the message on your business telephone – your switchboard, landline or mobile? What does it sound like? – Is it

  • Professional?
  • Clear?
  • Welcoming?
  • Informative?
  • Helpful?

If you run a small business and have been persuaded to install a telephone answering system, please

  • Get rid of the pre-recorded “Your call is important to us and will be answered shortly” – If there’s someone there to take the call, pick up the ‘phone! Record your own message for when there really is nobody available to take the call
  • Get rid of “Your call may be recorded and monitored for training purposes” – You really have the time to sit around listening to play backs of calls and train your staff on how to do better?
  • Do you really need “Press 1 for sales, 2 for accounts, 3 for customer service, (etc.)”?

You’re sacrificing a warm and human welcome for what you believe to be an impression of size – I know which I’d rather be greeted by! So let’s move on to that human welcome…

“Hello?”…
… isn’t what anyone would expect to hear when someone answers a business number.

Whoever answers the telephone in your organisation is the company, or at least the voice of the company, to anyone telephoning in. It doesn’t take the brain of Britain to realise that the same rules of professionalism, clarity, etc. apply equally to the ‘live’ response to an incoming call – a call that could be from your biggest customer or your biggest potential customer.

You wouldn’t dream of sending out anyone who wasn’t thoroughly conversant with your company to sell on your behalf. Yet how many times do you allow just anyone to answer an incoming call? The way each and every incoming call is dealt with right from the outset will affect the image of your company – good or bad.

Anyone in your company who uses the telephone to communicate with anyone else, internally or externally, needs good telephone communication skills.

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