Dawn of the Age of Email: Do I Still Need to Know How to Use a Phone?

In this digital age of email, instant messaging, and one-click online shopping, it’s easy to think that the days of conducting business by telephone are numbered. However, businesses still rely on phone communications, and 65 percent of businesses consider phone calls a valuable source of high-quality leads. Establishing good phone practices and etiquette standards for your business could be the difference between a successful sale and a lost customer.

Why Phones Are Good for Business

With a smartphone in the hands of nearly every consumer, it’s easier than ever to connect with potential customers. Even though people use smartphones to surf the Web and send email, Google found that 48 percent of online searches still result in a phone call. No matter how convenient it is to search the Web for information, services, and products, people still want to connect with another real person. Having to wait for an email response or getting stuck in an automated labyrinth of impersonal options will only frustrate your customers.

Phone calls equal action. If consumers feel compelled to make a call, they’re ready to buy. Being there for your customers with a real person who can listen and offer immediate solutions is still the best way to show them that they’re valued.

More Phone Options than Ever

While phones haven’t gone away, they have changed. Business owners need to examine the available options before making a decision. Depending on the structure of your business, consider the benefits of a traditional landline versus other types of phones.

Some businesses choose to operate completely with cellphones and forgo installing a landline. If your business operates remotely or requires associates to be out in the field most of the time, this can be a good option. However, consider guidelines for balancing personal and professional use and make sure that all office lines have customer-appropriate voicemail greetings.

If you need a phone in the office, there are many options. Traditional landlines are available from local telephone companies, and business phone options that use the Internet or fiber connections are available from a variety of providers. Business phone providers offer the additional benefit of customizing phone services to meet specific business needs.

Services like Skype are also worth considering. Skype lets you make voice and video calls over the Internet and can stand alone or work as a supplement to your other phone services.

Make Phone Calls Work for You

If your employees don’t know how to make customers feel valued when they call, it won’t make a difference what kind of phone system you have. When customers choose to call instead of email, they’re looking for the immediacy and the empathy of a fellow human being. If they don’t get the right reception on the other end of the line, it can hurt your business, resulting in lost sales, negative reviews, or a bad reputation for customer service.

With abbreviated forms of communication taking over in texts and email, it’s a good idea to revisit the basics of proper phone etiquette.

  • Answer all office calls within two or three rings. Callers are looking for immediate solutions, and if they’re already unhappy, making them wait will exacerbate the problem.
  • Establish a standard greeting for all business calls. Make sure it identifies the company and sets a friendly tone for every call.
  • Even though callers can’t see your face, they can hear the smile in your voice. Smiling while speaking to a customer also puts you in the right mindset to offer outstanding service.
  • Stop whatever else you are doing and sincerely pay attention to the caller. Jot down important notes such as the caller’s name and the primary reason for the call.
  • Show empathy — especially if the caller is unhappy. It’s easy to slip into defensive mode, but that isn’t what’s best for your business. Let the caller know you understand and offer solutions.
  • Say “thank you.” Let all callers know that you appreciate their call and their business. Basic manners say a lot about your company and its values.

With so many other means of communication available, it’s important to pay attention to how phone calls can impact your business. It may be the only direct, personal form of communication you have with your customers, so make sure your team is primed and ready to deliver courteous, friendly service every time the phone rings.

Frontier Business

Frontier Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: FTR) is a leader in providing communications services to urban, suburban, and rural communities in 29 states. Frontier offers a variety of services to residential customers over its fiber-optic and copper networks, including video, high-speed internet, advanced voice, and Frontier Secure® digital protection solutions. Frontier’s video offerings include FiOS® and Vantage TV by Frontier™ with 100 percent HD picture quality, Whole Home DVR, instant channel change, enhanced search, Video on Demand, and much more. Frontier Business offers communications solutions to small, medium, and enterprise businesses. More information about Frontier is available at www.frontier.com.

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