When you’re running a small business, your phone is one of the best tools you have to connect to potential customers, partners and investors, but there’s an art to using the phone in a professional setting.
How you manage calls and talk on the phone can make the difference between winning a new customer and losing them to the competition, so how can you make your small business professional on the phone?
This may be the most obvious tip, but nobody likes hanging on a ringing line. Your first chance to make a good impression is how quickly you answer the phone.
Answer with a smile on your face
This might sound silly but it’s absolutely true. When you smile, your voice sounds warm and reassuring to a customer. So whatever sort of day you’re having, whatever time it is and no matter how busy you are, smile when you talk. That way, you give yourself the best chance of turning that call into a sale.
Use a professional greeting
Always say the name of your business and probably your own name too. This confirms to the caller that they’ve got the right destination and also sets a professional tone for the conversation.
Speak clearly and use professional language
It’s important that your caller understands you and feels they’re talking to a professional who knows what they’re doing, so clearly pronounce your words and avoid slang or casual words like “cheers” and “mate”. You’re speaking to a business contact, so you can be friendly but keep it respectful and business-like.
Even you don’t know what your customer is talking about, always stay positive and professional. If you don’t know something try saying, “I’ll find out and come back to you” rather than “I don’t know”. That way you look interested and willing to help.
Always keep your promises
If you’re not able to give your caller what they want immediately, make sure you say when you’ll call them back and, more importantly, always keep that promise. Keeping your word is essential in building a professional reputation and a good customer relationship. Similarly, if you have to put people on hold, make sure you don’t forget about them!
Never miss an important business call
Your potential investors, business partners and customers may not keep regular office hours, especially if you’re a consumer business, so make a plan for receiving calls in the evening and at weekends. For a start-up, this means doing your best to never miss an important call. New innovations can help you. VoIP technology, for example, where calls are carried over the internet, offers advanced call management and voicemail features to keep you connected to your customers on any device, while keeping your personal and business calls separate.
Make sure your phone number is professional too
Your phone number says a lot about your business and has a major impact on what customers think about you. Businesses with a mobile number as their main point of contact, rather than a business ‘landline’ number, look less professional and trustworthy.
Of course your mobile phone is essential because it keeps you connected wherever you are. The trick is to use your mobile but make it look as if you’re making and receiving calls on a business ‘landline’ number.