In the world of business, every ring of the phone is an opportunity. It’s a chance to prove your company’s value, charm a potential client, or deepen a relationship with an existing one.
But in those pivotal moments when you lift the receiver or tap the “accept” button, remember—your words, tone, and etiquette are painting a vivid picture of how your business treats its customers.
In this article, we unpack the art of answering business calls with professionalism, offering actionable tips with real-life examples to guide you along the way.
Let’s explore the process of crafting an unforgettable first impression, one call at a time.
Why First Impressions Matter
You’ve heard it time and again: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
It might sound cliché, but it’s grounded in reality, especially in business.
Imagine the phone as your business’s front door. Every time it rings, a potential client, partner, or customer is knocking. The voice and demeanor that greet them form the linchpin of their initial assessment of your brand.
The Power of a Positive Impression
A stellar first impression can catapult your brand into the limelight, infusing trust and credibility into the caller’s perception.
Good example: “Good afternoon, you’ve reached Stellar Innovations. This is James speaking. How may I assist you today?”
Bad example: “Hello? Who’s this?”
The Risks of a Poor Greeting
Conversely, a misstep in those initial moments can cast a shadow, sowing seeds of doubt and reservations. It can make your brand’s positive image fall apart for the caller, reducing the chance of building a business relationship.
Good example: “Welcome to Elite Solutions, this is Maria. How can I make your day better?”
Bad example: “Yeah? What do you want?”
What the Numbers Say
When it comes to the concrete impact of first impressions, the numbers speak volumes. A huge 83% of customers pinpoint excellent customer service as the main factor when deciding to make a purchase.
Your phone etiquette is not just a reflection of courtesy; it’s a vital cog in the wheel of your business’s revenue and reputation machinery.
So, What Makes a Great First Impression?
Getting that first impression right is more science than art. Research shared by Harvard tells us that 80% of our judgments about others are based on two key things: warmth and competence.
Breaking It Down
Warmth is your ticket in the door. It’s about being friendly, sincere, and kind. In any conversation, we size up warmth first and weigh it heavily.
On the flip side, coldness can be a deal-breaker, often linked to traits like deception and cruelty.
Good example: “Thanks for calling NovaTech, I’m Sarah. How can I help today?”
Bad example: “NovaTech. What do you need?”
Competence is next in line. After deciding if someone’s warm, we want to know if they’ve got the chops to help us or if they could be a potential threat. Are they skilled, smart, and confident?
Good example: “Hi, this is Alex at Pinnacle Designs, ready to bring your ideas to life. What can I do for you?”
Bad example: “Pinnacle, Alex speaking.”
Applying It to Business Calls
So, what does all this mean when the phone rings at your business?
- Be friendly and engaging to showcase warmth. Make the caller feel important.
- Speak confidently and clearly to project competence. Know your stuff and show it.
Make It Personal
- Use the caller’s name if you can. It’s a warm touch that makes the call feel special.
- Answer questions in a way that’s tailored to the caller to show you’re attentive.
- Show warmth by listening well. Let the caller speak and really hear them.
- Prove your competence by responding thoughtfully and accurately.
- Answer quickly to show the caller they matter.
- Be ready with information or solutions to show you’re on the ball.
9 Tips to Answer the Phone Professionally
Implementing the tips and strategies below will refine your phone etiquette, ensuring every call strengthens the caller’s trust and confidence in your business.
1. Answer Promptly, Ideally by the Third Ring
Answering the phone quickly shows you’re attentive and value the caller’s time. It sets the stage for a positive interaction by demonstrating that the caller is a priority.
Good example: The phone is answered on the second ring with energy and attentiveness. “Good morning, TechSolutions here. This is Jake. How can I assist you today?”
Bad example: The phone is answered on the fifth ring, and the voice sounds hurried and inattentive. “Hello?”
2. Include Your Business Name
Including your business name in the greeting ensures the caller they’ve reached the right destination. It instills confidence from the outset and sets a professional tone for the interaction.
Good example: “Thank you for calling HealthWellness Clinic, this is Dr. Sara. How may I help you?”
Bad example: “Hello, Sara speaking.”
3. Keep Your Greeting Short
A concise greeting shows respect for the caller’s time and allows them to quickly address their needs or concerns. It ensures the conversation is focused and efficient.
Good example: “Good afternoon, this is Mark from Financio speaking. How can I assist you?”
Bad example: “Hello, thank you for calling Financio, your one-stop solution for all your financial planning needs. My name is Mark, your personal advisor and guide to financial freedom. How can I provide you with exceptional service today?”
4. Be Focused
Active listening is at the heart of effective communication. Being fully present during the call signifies respect and consideration for the caller. Any form of distraction can be sensed and will dilute the quality of interaction.
Good example: The agent is attentive and responsive. “I understand your concern, Ms. Johnson. Let’s explore the best options to resolve this.”
Bad example: The agent is distracted, and responses are delayed or off-point. “Could you repeat that, please?”
5. How You Say It Matters
The tone of your voice plays a pivotal role in conveying warmth and competence. According to a study featured in Discover magazine, people can acoustically perceive smiles, and this influences their response. Speaking clearly, at a moderate pace, and with a friendly tone can enhance the caller’s experience.
Good example: The agent speaks with a clear, warm, and friendly tone. “Thank you for calling Green Gardens, this is Lily. How may I assist you today?”
Bad example: The agent speaks too fast, and the tone is monotonous or cold. “GreenGardensLilyhowcanIhelp?”
6. Be Positive and Proactive from the Outset
A positive outlook and proactive approach in conversations can uplift the caller’s experience. Avoiding negative language and always offering solutions or alternatives fosters a helpful and optimistic interaction.
Good example: Even if uncertain, the agent remains positive and committed to assisting. “I’m not sure about that, but let me quickly find out for you.”
Bad example: The agent uses negative language and leaves the caller in limbo. “I don’t know.”
7. Ask Before You Put Someone On Hold or Transfer Them
Seeking permission before placing a caller on hold or transferring the call signifies respect for their time and patience. It keeps the caller informed, helping to avoid frustration.
Good example: The agent seeks consent and explains the reason. “May I place you on hold for a moment while I retrieve that information?”
Bad example: The agent places the caller on hold without any prior notice or explanation. “Hold on.”
8. Match Your Brand Identity
Every brand has a distinct identity, and the language and tone used during calls should reflect this.
Good example for a laid-back brand: The language is casual yet respectful. “Hey there, welcome to Surf’s Up! Mike here. What can I do for you?”
Bad example for a laid-back brand: The agent’s language is too formal, conflicting with the brand’s casual identity. “You’ve reached Surf’s Up Board Shop. This is Mike. How may I be of service to you on this fine day?”
9. Have a Backup Plan
There are instances when answering promptly isn’t feasible—maybe you’re experiencing higher-than-usual call volumes or it’s outside of business hours. Having a backup plan ensures that the caller’s needs are attended to, projecting an image of a business that’s always ready to assist.
Good example: The company has an efficient call answering service that ensures callers are attended to professionally any time of day or night.
Bad example: Callers are left waiting for long durations, or they encounter an impersonal, unhelpful automated message during after-hours without alternative contact options.
Every Call Counts
There you have it—a comprehensive guide tailored to uplift every “hello” into a meaningful interaction that resonates with professionalism and courtesy. Seamlessly blending warmth and competence can help you turn callers into long-term clients.
Need a Helping Hand?
The reality of business means you’re not always available. But there’s a surefire way to ensure none of your calls go unanswered.
With Absent Answer, step into a world where every call is answered with professionalism and precision, 24/7.
No caller left waiting, and no opportunity missed. Absent Answer is your partner in turning every ring into a relationship. Learn more about our services today.