Is there a delicate way to put callers on hold?
Callers are going to be placed on hold; its unavoidable. But the delicate way to do this is to inform the caller about where they are being transferred or how long they are going to be forced to wait.

Do you have any basic rules you follow when answering phones for clients?
Our first rule is to Speak Clearly: A good businessperson attempts to speak very clearly. It is not professional to make it difficult for a client to understand what is being stated.

I have heard smiling is important on the phone, is it really?
Absolutely, representatives should smile when on the phone with a client. Smiling changes inflection and tone during a phone call. The impression of happy, smiling representatives helps place callers at ease and provides a great impression for the business.

Practice using positive phrases
When dealing with people over the phone, it is more important than ever to use positive phrases…… No one wants to hear ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’. Use some of these suggestions and adapt them to your business: 1) ‘The tech is currently on a job but he will receive your message as soon as he is finished.’ …. sounds so much better than ‘I have no idea when you will hear from the tech.’ 2) ‘I’d be happy to schedule you for the first available appointment which is Wednesday at 8:00. Will that work for you?’….. is much more palatable than ‘I do not have any appointments until Wednesday.’ or ‘We can’t schedule you until Wednesday.’ 3) ‘Mary will be able to help you with that’ or ‘ Let me put you in touch with the person/department that handles that’ is much more helpful than telling someone ‘I can’t help you with that’ or ‘I don’t know.’

Use intentional wording when asking someone to hold
No one wants to wait in line or be put on hold. Unfortunately, it will happen to all of us. When YOU are the one that is forced to put a caller on hold, if you have a few phrases to pick from in your toolbox, it will make the caller much more agreeable. Make it personal; ask the caller if they will hold ‘for you’. Example: ‘Are you able to hold for me?’ or ‘Could you please hold for me?’ will help the caller to become a willing participant. People that choose to hold are more patient. Giving them a choice also gives the impatient caller the opportunity to decline. Be aware: If someone says they cannot hold, quickly clarify the reason for their call to determine if it is a true emergency. Never just ‘slam’ someone on hold without asking the question…..and waiting for the answer.

Connect with the caller's name
If a person identifies themselves at the beginning of the call, train yourself to remember their name. It saves time asking for it again and will help the caller to be more cooperative during the remainder of the call if you can call them by name. Using someone’s name forces an immediate connection!

Good listening skills equals good information
Keep in mind that having a telephone conversation requires better articulation and listening skills than when communicating in person. Always verify all the information by repeating it back using a phonetic alphabet. (A as in apple, B as in boy, etc.) Graciously take control of the call as quickly as possible. By asking questions in a friendly manner, you will be surprised at how quickly you will be able to obtain the information you need….and then be able to efficiently bring the call to a pleasant close.

"I don't know" is not an option
If you have to tell the caller ‘I don’t know the answer’, ALWAYS follow it closely by saying… ‘but I will put you in touch with someone that does’. Don’t pretend to know something you don't know; it will end up wasting both the caller’s time and your own. Be knowledgeable about how to most efficiently route the caller to the proper person or department.

Do you know the route a typical call travels throughout your office?
How about on an exceedingly busy day? Are these paths acceptable with the level of customer service you want to provide? If a call bounces from phone to phone in your office, are you comfortable with each person‘s ability to offer appropriate customer service to the call they may end up handling? If not, they need to be trained to do so or the calls need to be re-routed to have a more successful ending. Towne Answering can help by being your outsourced ‘rollover’ operator.

Do you know how your phone is answered 24/7?
This includes morning, noon and night!! Make test calls to assure yourself that what is happening is what you want to be happening. If a second call comes in, do you know what is happening to it? How about a third call? Is the path and end result what you want your customer to experience? Towne Answering can help with any overflow frustrations you may be having!