Business How-To: Customer Service Phone Etiquette

I am an avid watcher of Real Housewives of New York. My favorite person of the show: The Countess LuAnn de Lesseps. She’s snooty, always dressed impeccably and has the most enviable collection of giant statement necklaces ever.

She’s also an authority on etiquette; de Lesseps even has a song about etiquette that is awash with vocoder to disguise the fact that she’s clearly not a singer. Minus the heavy vocoder, the chorus is no less true: “Money can’t buy you class, etiquette is learned, my friend.”

It’s important for businesses to make a good impression on the phone. You don’t need to have a ton of wealth and a Countess title to make it happen either. You just have to be willing to treat others exceptionally well.
Here are some basic phone etiquette skills anyone should have. The Countess would approve.

Don’t let the phone ring too long.

\We’ve come to dread the phone call for help as a consumer, because the norm has taught us to. How thrown off are you when you get an answer within the first couple of rings? It’s refreshing and sets the tone right off the bat that this will be a positive experience. Set a goal to accomplish this. Here at PATLive, we answer 90% of our calls within the first 20 seconds. We even score ourselves, and provide incentives for exceptionally speedy days.

Always answer with a greeting and hang up with a closing.

It’s all about professionalism. Depending on your industry, you don’t want to sound too casual when speaking with a customer. It allows the caller to know they’re speaking to the right person and they will be taken care of.

Address the person by name.

Get personal. Think of past phone calls where a representative used your name. The tone of the call is completely different and gives you a sense of comfort knowing you’re being taken care of and it’s a super simple adjustment to make.

Don’t place people on hold for longer than is necessary.

This may sound like a given, but when it comes to customer inquiries or issues: the quicker the solution, the better. Nothing makes a caller more anxious and quick to snap than holding or having to repeat their situation multiple times.

Don’t talk to others when you’re on the phone with someone.

Okay, that’s just rude. When you’re working with a customer, that should be your one and only focus. How annoying is it when you’re being helped and the employee is chatting with her behind-the-counter-bestie about her Friday night happenings?

Answering the phone is not a science, but it does take a little couth and basic customer service phone etiquette to help you be successful on the other line. Take the time to consider how you’d like to be treated – that’s a great place to start. The rest will fall into place.

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