What Not To Say On A Business Call

October 01, 2015 / Uncategorized

It seems that good phone etiquette is something that eludes many businesses these days. Many businesses don't put in an effort to educate their employees on the proper phone etiquette. The result is customers who go away angry, frustrated and most of all become customers of a competitor. It is amazing how many corporations ignore basic phone courtesies.

How many times have you called a company and instantly been put on hold. The phone is answered and before you have time to say a word you hear, "Hold, please", and start listening to elevator music. Wouldn't you like to hear, "Are you able to hold?" Putting people on hold without asking permission is a definite mistake.

I don't know about you but I find it so frustrating to call a company and be greeted by a recording rather than a person. Even worse is one of these phrases by a rude person on the other end of the phone. Keep in mind that phone courtesy, like all good manners, is largely based on common sense. You want to respond in the way you like to be treated.

So, if you want to keep and add customers, keep your employees from saying these things on the phone.

  • "That's not our policy." This pathetic excuse to avoid taking action on complaints or requests is not only poor manners. It's also damaging. Who cares what is or isn't "policy." Who is the faceless person who set it and is it really "policy"? How can an employee possibly rationalize hanging up on dissatisfied customers? If an employee cannot grant the request or fix the complaint, he or she ought to consult a superior for advice or be given authority to find alternatives that will transform the customer from disgruntled to appreciative. Either way, keep the customer informed at every stage.
  • "That's not my job." Every employee working for the company has to be ready to take every call and do whatever they can to answer the caller's needs. At the very least, if the employee doesn't know the answer, he or she should get a phone number, ask a manager for help and call back, expeditiously, with information that resolves the problem.
  • "Could you call back? We're real busy right now." This one boggles the business mind. But employees say it more often than you'd think. It always makes me wonder: Busy with what? Make sure no staffer you hire ever gets away with saying anything even close to this.
  • "My computer's down," or "We're having trouble with our servers." This should simply never be in a staffers vocabulary because it is not a caller's problem. They don't care about our computer systems, just their problem. A business should run with or without computers. If there are computer problems, the employee should pick up a pencil, write down the phone number, and get back to him or her as soon as he or she can without fail.
  • "Didn't you get my voice mail?" In the first place, computer systems have advanced to the point where this is easily checked and most people look at this excuse as just that, an excuse. If an employee fails to return a call in a timely and courteous manner, they should just face the music and apologize.
  • "I was just waiting to get more information before calling you back." Again, everyone knows this is a ploy. If an employee were really gathering info, he or she would send an interim e-mail or leave an explanatory voice mail — which is what every pro does with important contacts. All this phrase does is insult the caller by signaling that he or she is not a priority.
  • "Wait a sec. I'm putting you on my speakerphone." Like the hold button, this shouldn't be used without first gaining caller permission. Many experts think it's fine once the caller says OK, but, personally, I'm always opposed to speakerphone conversations. I find them awkward and annoying. Voices bounce and echo. You can never quite hear anyone or figure out who's talking. You also never know who's listening in and what kind of impression you're making on the gang who's eavesdropping.
  • "I'll see that she calls you." This is pure self-protection. "An employee should only promise to deliver the message, not that there will be a return call," It's not up to an employee to promise someone else's attention. If there is no return call, he or she has created unnecessary disappointment or irritation.
  • "I just buried my mother." Honestly, I wouldn't have thought it necessary to tell anyone about a personal tragedy or traumas during business calls. An employee should never bring personal problems into business conversations. This may sound like common sense but it does happen.

These days phone calls are more about maintaining the customer relationship and less of a tool for customer acquisition. The days of cold calling are over. Attitude matters. Courtesy counts. Tone tells all. Every time an employee picks up a receiver, the possibility of gaining or losing business is on the line.