In service organizations like banks, the emphasis nowadays has been on providing services at the doorstep of the customers, and reducing the need for visits to branches and offices. One important means of responding to customer enquiries is through telephones.
Tele-banking and tele-contact services are now gaining popularity. Tele-marketing and making sales calls on the telephone are becoming popular, especially in metro centres.
It is imperative; therefore, that everyone in the business or any other organization is capable of making effective telephone talks. Even the subordinate staff should be taught telephone manners. The caller at the other end may not know who is responding.
Many organizations, therefore, make it a point to train their employees on ‘telephone manners’ and even bring out literature on this topic for the benefit of their staff.
Some noteworthy points relating to telephone talk, though elementary and yet often overlooked, are as follows:
1. Lift the receiver before the second or the third ring.
2. Announce you’re name/the organization and greet the caller.
3. Be polite, avoid a barking tone.
4. If the call is to be directed, make sure the caller is not made to wait on the line for long.
5. If the person called is not available, make a note of the caller’s name, telephone number and message and communicate to the person concerned at the earliest.
6. Make sure that the calls are returned promptly.
7. End the conversation with a ‘thank you’ or a ‘good day’.
8. Replace the receiver gently back in its right place.
9. Keep personal talk on the official line to the minimum.
10. Calls cost money, especially long distance ones. Make your talk cost effective.
11. Remember that the telephone is not a status symbol, it is a means of communication.
12. Teach yourself to speak slowly but think quickly.
13. Most importantly, smile when picking up the phone, the caller will hear it in your voice.
In business, a caller often sizes up the efficiency of the organization in terms of the type of response one gets to the calls made. It should be ensured that the person who responds to the calls does so promptly and is in a position to respond to the caller’s queries.
The caller will obviously get a poor impression if the call changes four or five hands at the other end before the information sought is made available, entailing much wastage of time for the caller.
While a telephone talk has its merits as a means of direct communication, it is not meant, in the normal course, for long conversations, which are best done in person. One should consciously avoid cultivating an obsession for telephone talk.
Further, when the caller at the other end has a foreign or unfamiliar accent, the receiver should take extra care to understand and respond. Also, if a person has come on business or with due appointment, it is ill mannered to indulge in a lengthy telephone talk and keep the visitor waiting.
The other point worth noting is that when calls are made on a mobile number, sometimes the receiver of the call is also charged. It is unfair to make the receiver pay if the receiver is not keen on taking the call on the mobile.
According to a study, 90 per cent of the executives spend more than an hour a day on the phone, and forty per cent of them spend more than two hours a day on the phone. This time must be spent effectively.