biztips

Enabling you to succeed

in  business

A LifeTime Creations company

Check your telephone skills; they are more  important than ever

I RECENTLY CALLED the auto dealership at which I always have my car serviced wanting to inquire about four new tires for my car. The dealership had sent me a flier advertising a special deal on tires and I wanted to know more.

The service technician with whom I usually deal failed to answer his telephone. I left a voice mail message asking him to call me back.

When he had not called two days later, I left another voice mail message.

He never called.

I telephoned a tire company. They answered the telephone immediately, gave me a quote that sounded reasonable and a week later the new tires were on my car.

When I next took my car to the dealership, I mentioned to the service technician that I had called and left him a voice mail. He seemed unconcerned and I gathered that he had no real interest in responding to e-mail messages.

Too many companies fail to realize that the telephone remains a most important contact with existing and potential customers. Email remains a poor alternative.

More than half of business is conducted over the telephone. And today telephones are seldom answered by a receptionist whose job it is to be polite to customers. The calls usually go straight to the person involved in dealing with a product or service.

So telephone manners have become the responsibility of almost every staff member. And how you present yourself on the telephone is a reflection of your company, organization or association.

Indeed, in many cases, a potential customer's first direct contact with a company is over the telephone. The way they are treated provides the first impression of the nature of the company. A rude or indifferent response will, to the caller, reflect a rude or indifferent company with which they would likely not want to do business.

On the telephone, you convey your personality and attitude to callers who cannot see you in person. The caller does not know whether you are busy or in a bad mood — and, of course, does not care. All the caller hears is an unpleasant person with whom they would rather not do business.

As a result, the approach by the person answering the telephone can make all the difference between a sale and no sale.

The telephone is an indispensable business tool. Like many business tools, it can be used to great benefit or can cause the loss of vital sales.

Test your telephone skills in the "Rate Yourself" box on this page.

— Graham Fysh

Rate yourself

How well do you handle telephone calls?

Answer the questions below to find out

 

BizTips Quiz
1. How promptly do you answer the telephone at work?
  • I answer promptly, within two to three rings.
  • If I am busy, I let it ring for a while, but I usually answer it before it rings off.
  • I generally let it go to voicemail so I can check who is calling.
2.Is your voicemail greeting understandable, friendly and ready to help?
  • Yes, all of the above.
  • I guess I could be better on one or two of those aspects.
  • Not really. It is straightforward and businesslike; there is no need to be any more than that.
3. How often do you update your voicemail message?
  • At least once a month.
  • Only when some aspect of importance changes or when I am out of the office for a day or longer.
  • Never.
4. If you put someone on hold, do you check every 20 to 30 seconds to see whether they want to remain on hold?
  • Yes. I know that if I keep them hanging they might go away and never call back.
  • I try to do so, but sometimes I forget.
  • No. I figure that they will wait as long as necessary.
5.How soon do you return a voice mail request to call back?
  • As soon as possible.
  • When the office is less busy and I have nothing else to do.
  • Seldom. I figure if their need is urgent they will call again.


Score =



What your answers mean

80-100%: You have good telephone skills. Keep working on them to make them even better.
60-80%: Not too bad, but examine your answers and check how you can improve your skills.
40-60%: You are likely to lose customers unless you improve your skills. Check out the books below to discover how you can do so.
0-40%: You likely are losing valuable customers; check out the books below to learn how to brush up on your telephone skills.

 

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