Friday, August 19, 2016

Telephone Etiquette to Begin and Nurture Business Relationships

By Rose Strong

Do you consider yourself professional? If so, be sure you sound it when calling someone on the telephone.

I answer the telephones at Furia Rubel marketing and public relations and the majority of my phone interactions sound like this:

Me: Good afternoon, Furia Rubel, this is Rose.

Caller: Hey there Rose, how you doin’? Is So & So around today?

Me: May I ask who’s calling?

Caller: Oh yeah, this is Jane The Unprofessional.

Me:  And may I ask where you’re calling from?

Caller: Sure, yeah…I’m calling from Whatchalamacallsitfenterbriztes.

Me: I’m sorry, can you repeat your company name, and is So & So expecting your call?

Caller: Um, yeah WhatChaMaCallIt Enterprises, and oh yeah, I sent her information last week and she told me to call her today.

Me: She is not available at the moment. May I take a message or would you like her voicemail.

Caller: I’ll call back. [Click].

It is interesting how many callers don’t identify themselves or where they’re from. Even more amazing is how some folks can be overly familiar, as if we’re having drinks after work at happy hour rather than interacting for the first time. They also often speak unclearly and even lie to try to get through to the person they are calling.

It’s clear with today’s techno-savvy world we’re often more apt to use email or even text messages to conduct business. However, the telephone is still a vital part of how we operate professionally.

We may have conference calls with many people, phone call meetings with only two people, touch-base calls for one-on-one communication. I don’t think we’re giving up this amazing, 140-year-old invention anytime soon. So, in light of that, when doing business, whether seeking it or maintaining the relationship, it’s a good practice to be professional no matter who answers the phone.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain a professional demeanor on the phone:

After the greeting, introduce yourself and explain where you’re calling from before asking for the person to whom you wish to speak.

Be sure to speak clearly and in a moderate tone so the person answering can record your name. Explain why you are calling and when you can be reached. And by all means, please take “no” for an answer. “No” is a full sentence.

Just this morning, I answered a sales call directed to our company owner, Gina. She was standing just feet away from me in an important conversation with one of our colleagues and was not able to take the call. I no sooner hung up with the caller when Gina’s cell phone rang and it was the same caller. She very sternly advised him never to call her again since he was just told that she was not available, she was not expecting his call, and he refused to leave a message, originally.

Being professional goes a long way towards building relationships and telephone professionalism is a great way to begin and nurture business relationships. Do you have any other tips for telephone etiquette?

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