First impressions are important, personally and professionally. Think about how your clients and prospects gain their first impressions of you and your practice. Is it primarily in person through seminars or referral events, or is it on the phone when someone calls your office?
Whatever the situation, you and your practice should appear polished and professional. To ensure a pleasant phone experience for your clients and prospects, here are five simple tips to improve phone etiquette:
1. Phone Greeting
A phone greeting is like a recipe. It’s full of ingredients that, when delicately combined, can make a great impression. A professional phone greeting has four important ingredients: a salutation, identification of the company, identification of the person handling the call, and an offer of assistance.
Begin with a friendly salutation, such as “Good Morning,” “Good afternoon,” or “Thank you for calling <firm name>.”
When identifying your company, say it slowly so the caller can understand it and know that they are speaking with the correct company.
Identify yourself by saying your name clearly: “This is <first and last name> speaking. How may I help you?” Offering assistance to the caller is an invitation to move forward.
When you combine these ingredients together, you have “Thank you for calling <firm name>. This is <first and last name> speaking. How may I help you?”
2. The Smile Heard ‘Round the World
When you smile, your facial expression changes, as well as the inflection in your voice. This can be heard over the phone, and the person on the other end of the line can immediately form a positive opinion about you. Studies indicate that as much as 87% of the opinions people form when speaking on the telephone are based on tone of voice, while 13% is based on the actual words we use. Whether you’re a one-person shop or a large practice with a staff that answers your phones, make sure everyone smiles when they answer the phone — it could make or break a prospect.
3. Enunciate [ē-ˈnən(t)-sē-ˌāt]
Be sure to speak clearly, especially if you have an accent. People can be turned off when they can’t understand someone on the other end of the phone, and it can lead to a lot of frustration for both parties. This is also very important when leaving a message, whether it’s an appointment reminder or confirmation of event attendance. If the recipient can’t understand the message, the likelihood of them responding — and attending — is greatly diminished.
4. Please, No Food or Drink
Do not eat, chew gum, shuffle through papers, or gulp beverages while on the phone. Remember, this is the first impression of you and your office. Don’t cloud someone’s judgement of their experience with you by having an unprofessional phone encounter.
5. “Please” and “Thank You” Are the Magic Words
Remember to use your manners when on the phone with a prospect or client. Always say please when asking for information, and thank the caller for calling your office. Manners are a lost art; when someone comes across them, they’ll definitely remember!