Talking on the phone has always been a struggle for me, especially in a world where its so easy to text or email information, which is simpler and easier. However, there is something personal about a phone call that you don’t get in an email and, if used correctly, can really bring a closer relationship between you and your clients.
Here’s a few tips on using the phone to bring a new element to your conversations that could really be a benefit.
- Push your personality through the phone. Sometimes I can really burst my way through a phone call. I get too busy and pushing information through the phone or following a prescribed script in my head becomes my top priority, which can disconnect me from the other person. My advice is to be conversational and smile. It’s a great idea to remember details about your conversations and ask your clients about them later as well. Smiling while talking on the phone can’t be physically seen, but it instantly brightens your mood and the person on the other line can feel it, even if they can’t see it.
- Use names, both your own and your customers. Don’t take this too literally, it’s a terrible idea to talk about yourself in the third person like some basketball star, but answering the phone using you name and then repeating your client’s name as you talk to them throughout the phone call adds a personal touch and helps keep you focused on who you’re talking to.
- Ask open ended questions and avoid close ended questions. An example of a close ended question is like this, “Would you like vanilla ice cream?”. This type of question can be answered with a short answer with little or no explanation and doesn’t inspire any kind of further conversation. However, an open ended question leads to a longer answer and opens the door for more conversation on the subject. An example of this is, “What is your favorite type of ice cream? Why?” After this, patiently wait for an answer and respond appropriately to what they say.
- Allow the client time to think and speak. It can be tempting to fill silences or prompt the person you are talking to speak sooner or make a decision immediately. But this strategy can cause stress and confusion for the other party. Take a second to let them process the information given to them and give a response.
- Take ownership of problems and empathize with the client. Sometimes calls from your clients are simply complaints. Don’t ever hide behind a new employee or out your marketing manager as the problem maker. Instead, own the problem, explain the situation, let them know you understand their frustrations, and offer any kind of support or help that you can to rectify the situation.
- Ask permission to use the speaker phone. Sometimes the other party is uncomfortable with being put on speaker phone, they can’t hear as well if put on speaker, or they may be passing you sensitive information that may be over heard. Always indicate that you intend to use the speaker phone and see if the other person is okay with that.
- Speak at the same rate as the other person. Speaking too fast gives the impression that you want them to get off of the phone and they aren’t a priority, while speaking slower than the client can be frustrating. Pick up on the rate of the speaker and try to match it.
- Pause between ideas for clarity. It’s always a big disaster when you’re jumping from ideas so fast that the other party isn’t sure if you’re still on the same topic anymore. Remember to pause between thoughts as this gives them time to catch up and cues them into a topic switch.
- Always thank the caller. This one is one of the most vital components of phone talk. No matter who called who first, or what topics were discussed, or even the mood, remember to always thank them for their time (make is simple and short) as you hang up.
Hopefully you found these Tips useful.
Good luck conversing!