Telephones don’t stay at the office anymore. We carry them around in our pockets. We use them when we’re commuting, when we’re out for lunch, when we’re working on the computer, and even when we’re supposed to be talking to someone else face-to-face. They’re always on. And that means we have to be ‘on’ too. Being ‘on’ means having the right attitude.
The right attitude starts with promptness. When you hear that ring, don’t delay. Grab it before the third ring so the caller knows he’s important. And when you answer, be sure to smile. You might be thinking that a smile is unnecessary because the other person can’t actually see you. But in this case, smiling is about more than just turning up the corners of your mouth. Smiling is an attitude. It means having a voice that is pleasant and enthusiastic. That voice helps create a connection with the other person and open the door to good communication. And keeping a smile on your voice is something you should do when you initiate the call as well. It’s not just the job of the person receiving the call.
Okay, you’re smiling, but what should you say? If you’re answering the phone, you can always fall back on the standard four-part greeting: you need to greet, to identify yourself – and your company – and to offer help. That goes something like this: “Good afternoon. This is Jim at Kepler Marketing. How can I help you?” Even if you know who’s calling, you should still keep this same format, even if you present it a bit more informally. For example, you might say “Hi, this is Jim. What can I do for you?” Want more information and practice on this kind of thing? Look up BEP 69A, which is all about answering the telephone.
Now, if you’re the caller, you will follow a similar blueprint. But instead of greeting, identification, and offer, you’ll have a greeting, identification, and request. That could go something like this: “Good morning. This is Fred Collins with WebStar. I’d like to speak with Mr. Tony Flair.” Again, if you’re calling someone you’re familiar with, you’ll still follow the same pattern. For example: “Hi Sue. Fred with Webstar here. Could you put me through to Tony?”
Great. You’ve started the call out with the right attitude. Now keep it up throughout the call. How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. Remember to speak slowly and clearly. The less people have to ask you to repeat yourself, the better. Surely you’ve seen a person in the street with a mobile phone at one ear and a finger plugging the other, saying “pardon?” and straining to hear what the other person is saying. Let’s try and avoid that. That also means choosing clear words. Say “yes” instead of mumbling “uh-huh.” And “I understand” instead of “got it.”
Another important tip is to stay focused on the call and the other person. If you’re trying to do several things at once, the chances of miscommunication shoot up. And it’s usually pretty obvious to others when you’re trying to order a sandwich at the same time as talking to them. Give the other person all the courtesy you would if you were dealing with him face-to-face. That includes being patient. Let the other person take the time he needs to talk. In return, you should receive patience and the time to talk as well. The same goes for common manners. Unfortunately, manners often go out the window as soon as there’s a device or machine placed between two people. You can see this in email, text messages, and the attitude of people driving in their cars. And you hear it on the phone as well. But people with good telephone skills will use “pardon” over “what,” and all those other common courtesies that we accept as normal when we’re standing in front of another person.
Great. Now you’ve started the call off right, you’ve got a great attitude, you’re smiling, being polite, and speaking clearly. The communication pathway should be smooth, and what you are saying should come through clearly. And that’s what we’ll look at in our next episode. We’ll learn some tips and tricks for making sure that the content of the call gets through clearly.
If you’d like to test yourself on what we’ve just covered, have a look at the myBEonline.com website. There you’ll find a quiz about today’s show as well as a complete transcript and vocabulary explanations.
Thanks for listening, and see you again soon.