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Telephone Etiquette

Telephone Etiquette

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Published by Vinod Babu
Telephone etiquette
Telephone etiquette

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Published by: Vinod Babu on Aug 01, 2008
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11/14/2012

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Telephone etiquette
Getting Through
Although email and instant messaging are quickly becoming standard forms of officecommunication, the telephone still plays an important role in business. Just like aface-to-face meeting, telephone conversations are expected to and should followcertain rules of etiquette to help make the experience pleasant and productive for allthose involved.It's easy to forgo manners when talking over the phone. Distractions abound, fromimpromptu meetings or email notifications blinking on your computer screen.Remember that a conversation over the phone carries just as much weight as a face-to-face meeting, as it is a great opportunity to communicate in real time.
Tuning up your pipes
If your job requires being on the phone most of the day, remember it usually takes afew hours for the human vocal cords to fully warm up after a night's sleep. Eighthours of rest usually leaves them a little rusty. Practice enunciation in the bathroommirror while you get ready for work, or do some vocal exercises in the shower.Singing in the shower does wonders for a day of cold calling - but make sure you'renot disturbing someone else's slumber with your warbling. Deep breathing exerciseshelp condition your stomach and throat for a day's worth of talking, as well as gentlyclearing your throat and blowing your nose. If you drive to work, you can also singalong with the radio in the car.
Making the call
When making a business call, be sure to first identify yourself and your company. If you're routed to a receptionist or operator, also include the name of the personyou're trying to reach. A simple, "Hello, this is Mary Robert from Off the WallProductions. May I please speak with Mark Grand?" will do.Be prepared with a one or two sentence explanation of the purpose for your call.When you are connected with the person, state the purpose of your call and then besure to ask if you are calling at a convenient time. This is one of the most overlookedareas of phone etiquette, and allows the person you're calling the opportunity tobetter address your needs at a later time. Don't fib about how long your call will take- if you know it will take longer than five minutes, don't say, "It'll be quick." Let theperson know what they are getting into at the start of the conversation.If you get shunted to a receptionist and he or she asks why you are calling, give aconcise but informative statement that can be easily relayed. Do not, however,assume that your message will be communicated; when you speak directly with theperson you are trying to call, repeat your message in your own words. Don't beinsulted if you're asked to leave a message or call back later - previous engagements
 
do take priority.
Answering the phone
People make business phone calls for specific reasons. Very rarely do vendors orclients call just to catch up. Telephone calls usually lead to some action to be taken,so make sure your first vocal impression is a good one by trying to answer the phoneas pleasantly and professionally as possible.Identify yourself and your company when receiving an incoming call. While it's notimpolite to say, "Off the Wall Productions, Mary Robert speaking," it might be easieron the listener to say, "Thank you for calling Off the Wall Productions. This is MaryRobert. How may I help you?" Variations on this theme can convey your greetingquite effectively. If you work at a large corporation with many departments, it mayalso help to include your department or section name, "This is Mary Robert, accountsreceivable. How may I help you?"
Hold, please
The hold feature is generally considered a double-edged sword in telephoneetiquette. No one is usually available at the exact moment of a phone call, and beingon hold simply must be tolerated. However, there are many things the caller and theperson taking the call can do to make the experience a pleasant one.If you must put someone on hold, ask first and - most importantly - wait for theiranswer. If someone expresses reservation about being put on hold, calmly explainwhy it is necessary. Perhaps the person they are calling for stepped out of the officeand needs to be tracked down, or is on another call. Callers like an explanation fortheir inconveniences, but don't give away too much information. If Bill fromdistributing is in the restroom, just tell the caller he is away from his desk.Remember to keep the person on hold updated on the status of his or her call every30 seconds. A simple "She's on another call" or "His meeting is running a little late"is sufficient. It's okay to hang up after three minutes on hold. Call back and ask toleave a message instead.
Voice mail and messages
If you have to leave a message or voice mail for someone, make it short and to thepoint. Speak clearly and slowly and leave your name, phone number, and a brief message. Say your name and number at the beginning and again at the end of themessage, especially if you don't know the person you're calling. If the voice mailsystem allows you to play back your message, consider taking advantage of thatfeature to make sure your message is clear and communicates your needs.Returning messages promptly is always appreciated. It's customary to returntelephone calls within 24 hours. If you cannot attend to the caller's needs within that
 
time, briefly phone the person to say when you will be available.
Your own voice mail
The message you leave as your outgoing message is an important business tool.Information is critical. The best messages communicate several key things to theperson calling you: your name, the organization and/or group you're in, the currentdate (this tells them you are checking your messages), whether you are in the officeor not that day, when to expect a call back, whom to contact if the call is urgent, andhow to get to that person.This seems like an enormous burden, but it just requires a little discipline first thingevery morning or last thing every night. If you've ever called someone and gotten ageneric voicemail, you know how disconcerting it can be. Is the person on vacation?Will I get a call back? When? So it's especially important for people who travelfrequently to attend to outgoing messages.Of course, you can simplify the approach and perhaps change your message once aweek providing an update of the days you'll be out of the office that week. Any usefulinformation in your outgoing message will make your caller feel more comfortablethat the message is important and you will respond. Be sure to respond.
On the Call
After establishing contact with the party you're trying to reach, you should be readyto use the time as effectively as if you were in a face-to-face meeting.
The speakerphone – friend or foe?
Speakerphones are a great tool for communication via the telephone, but they mustbe used wisely. Some people prefer to use a speakerphone even when no one else islistening in so that they can take notes during the conversation without having to juggle a phone receiver. If you're one of those people, make sure you inform thepeople on the line with you that you are using a speakerphone, and if they seemapprehensive, explain why it is necessary.Speakerphones are also useful for conference calls. If you are leading aspeakerphone meeting with a number of people, allow each person to introducehimself or herself, to help the listeners match a name to a voice."In conference calls, always identify yourself by name and never rely solely on voicerecognition," said Lena Bottos, compensation market analyst for Salary.com. "Alwayspreface your comments with an introduction."
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