Telephone Skills

by Babs Moore

Common questions

  1. How should I answer the telephone?
  2. How can I portray a consistent company image on the telephone?
  3. When is it appropriate to make/receive a call on a mobile telephone?
  4. How do I use voicemail efficiently?
  5. How can I deal with interruptions while on the telephone?
  6. How can I maximise efficiency on a call?
  7. How do I prevent the telephone taking over my life?
  8. How do I prepare for a call?

 

1. How should I answer the telephone?

  • Salutation and company name is the minimum for external calls.
  • Salutation and own name is the minimum for internal or transferred calls.
  • Sound friendly and helpful, with a sincere ‘How may I help you?’, if appropriate.
  • Achieve a balance between being too long-winded and providing insufficient information for the caller to know whether or not they are through to the right person.

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2. How can I portray a consistent company image on the telephone?

  • Introduce a company phone policy, covering how calls should be answered and transferred.
  • Ensure regular users are trained to use the telephone system to best effect.

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3. When is it appropriate to make/receive a call on a mobile telephone?

  • When it will not disrupt or disturb others unduly. Calls should not be made when in inappropriate places, such as theatres, cinemas or places of worship.
  • Make calls only when the call can be given your full attention.
  • Do not make or take sensitive calls when there is any danger of being overheard by those you would rather not hear the call.
  • Be tactful and considerate of other passengers when travelling.
  • Taking calls in meetings should be avoided if at all possible.

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4. How do I use voicemail efficiently?

  • Ensure your own voicemail is clear, concise and friendly, but contains all relevant information.
  • Change your own voicemail message as frequently as is required to ensure that callers know when to expect a return call.
  • If your job entails travelling, learn how to access voicemail remotely if possible.
  • When leaving a message, provide all essential information, such as your name, company, time of call, reason for call, action required and contact details.

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5. How can I deal with interruptions while on the telephone?

  • Body language – make it clear you are concentrating on the call in hand.
  • Make sure colleagues understand your priorities and know in which circumstances you will allow an interruption. They should also know your preferred way of being interrupted, such as a written note, passed quietly.
  • Don’t overestimate your own importance; allow others to handle potential interruptions on your behalf.
  • Don’t take a second call without very good reason; use voicemail.

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6. How can I maximise efficiency on a call?

  • Plan and prepare your call (opening and objective).
  • State how much time is available.
  • Summarise and agree actions.
  • Ensure you are speaking to the right person.
  • Arrange to try again, if not convenient.

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7. How do I prevent the telephone taking over my life?

  • Be polite and efficient when using the telephone.
  • Understand the importance of the telephone in your role and, if appropriate, allow others or voicemail to take calls when something more important needs your undivided attention.
  • Set aside a specific time slot in which to return calls, making several in succession.
  • Use voicemail, if appropriate.
  • Set time parameters around calls.
  • Agree to attend only relevant conference calls.

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8. How do I prepare for a call?

  • Plan and prepare your opening remarks.
  • Know your objectives (and those of the other person).
  • Review likely outcomes/reactions and plan for each.
  • Before phoning, consider whether the telephone is the correct medium for the contact.
  • If you are expecting an incoming call, use the same procedure as above. If you can expect frequent similar calls, prepare a script/crib sheet so that important information is not forgotten or missed.

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