Why should we review our telephone etiquette skills from time to time ? Before you read this post give some thought to some of your personal worst phone experiences. Are you smiling or frowning currently? I am sure it is the latter, obviously. We inherently hate how we are treated by someone who can barely verbalize two sentences before putting us on hold, or even worse, when we have to go through a series of numbers even to reach a department. For the sake of this post we are going to focus on telephone etiquette when we personally answer the phone and why this is so important for apartment leasing and resident retention. As a matter of fact, this even applies to how we deal with each other from onsite to the corporate office.
This may be a good team exercise to do from time to time. Why not set aside some time and practice your phone greeting with each other? Honestly score each other on your telephone etiquette. As a result of being so busy, our interpersonal phone skills can quickly erode. A team exercise such as this can serve as a great reinforcement of how each of us is doing when we answer the phone. When you answer the phone, answer with a smile. Identify yourself and ask: “How can I help you today?” or something to that effect. If you don’t have regular team exercises, there is always the mirror. That can sound scary. Believe me, I can understand. When I first started public speaking, part of my training was presenting in front of a mirror. That was one of the best teaching aids for me and I am sure it will be for you as well.
Another key to telephone etiquette is the tone and pace of your voice. If your voice inflection is high and your pace is quick, this only makes the caller feel like you are in a hurry and that their call has little value. Never interrupt a caller. Sometimes the caller’s thoughts are not all together and they are trying to explain their reason for the call but it seems to take many sentences. Be patient though. Don’t interrupt. Focus on their key words so that you can properly assess what it is they are calling about.
One final tip for today is in regard to transferring a call or putting someone on hold. It can come across very rude if we simply state: “That’s not my department…Hold Please.” How much better if we simply ask the caller’s permission. Phrases like: “Let me check on that for you. May I put you on hold for just a moment?” or “I know the right person who can help you with that. May I transfer you to their office?” By asking permission you are validating that person’s call, their needs, and the fact that you are genuinely concerned about that individual and fulfilling their requests.
I am sure there are many other telephone etiquette tips out there. Please share what you have experienced or have learned that has enabled you to provide better service and enhanced telephone etiquette. Feel free to share in the comment section below.
Written by Jonathan Saar