How Do I Train My Team to Manage Phone Calls Professionally?

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Answered by: Laura, An Expert in the Managing People Category
Managing phone calls professionally is a difficult soft skill for many employees, but the fact of the matter is, most businesses – including yours – depend on those incoming and outgoing calls to keep business going.

Imagine this scenario: sales are slow, the phones aren’t ringing as much as they used to, and you notice that your team is handing off a higher than usual number of calls just before you receive a second service complaint from one of your best customers. What’s going on here? It’s probably time for a refresher course in phone call management: to remind those who take the phone calls of your expectations, and empower them with the knowledge they need to do their jobs.

Basic Skills for Phone Call Management

Avoid the Muzak. Did you know that many callers will hang up on a business before ever receiving an answer because of the hold time? It’s unlikely that they will call back later – especially if your competitors picked up the phone. Make it a priority to have all incoming calls answered within one minute, and train staff never to put a caller on hold unless absolutely necessary. If a caller must be placed on hold, be sure that the operator thanks the customer for holding the moment they return to the line.

Slow Down. If a person is speaking too quickly, the caller may not understand what is being explained, or worse, feel as though their call is not important to your business.

Be Professional. Successful speakers instill a feeling of confidence. They do this not only by speaking slowly and clearly, but by using confidence words. Your operators can do the same. Train them to avoid filler words (“like”, “uhm”, “yeah”) and replace them with confidence words, such as “absolutely”, “I understand”, even “That’s great!”

Voice mail and Callback Management

If someone calls your business after hours, do they know that it is after hours or might they think that there just isn’t anyone there? Ensure that all voice mails, especially the voice mail answering after hours, has your business name and hours of operation. In addition to this, personal voice mails should always have the voice mail owner’s name and an alternate number that the caller can use if they need immediate assistance. All employees should check their voice mail at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

When employees are leaving a voice mail for someone else, they should always leave their name, the name of your company, their phone number, and their reason for calling. Including the reason for the call will increase the chances of receiving a call back exponentially. Ask your staff how many times they have received a voice mail asking for a callback without a reason, and had to wonder what they were walking into!

From time to time, most teams will need gentle reminders in the basics of managing phone calls. Training (or re-training) those who are on the front lines in best practices is always a worthwhile investment – in your team and in your business.

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