Twenty five years ago, no one heard of the Internet. And few people owned a cellular phone. Business was conducted through more traditional methods: by mail, in person, and on the telephone.
Times have no doubt changed with emails, tweets, and texting becoming part of our daily lives. But that doesn’t mean small business owners should lose the fine art of verbal conversation. Taking the time to talk with your customers on the phone is another way to ensure that “the customer is always right.” In fact, the phone can be a valuable asset in growing your business.
Here are three tips to consider when a telephone exchange is the viable, practical method of communication:
1. Speak clearly and loudly- If you or your employees are the ones on the phone, make sure your customers can hear you. Also, speak slowly. In our rush-around daily life, people tend to talk quickly. Your pace will tell the customer you are taking time to listen to their needs.
2. Repeat key information- Starting your conversation by stating your name and company. Ask customers to do the same to spell their name if needed and vendors to provide their company. And, if you are taking down specific information, repeat essential items, such as phone number, appointment or reservation time, and date.
3. Leave audible messages- Here is where the above tips really come into play. I often receive live and recorded phone messages that are garbled beyond understanding and I have to listen several times to get the information. Don’t be one of them! (Frustrated customers are never good for business.)
Other factors small business owners should consider: Smile and sit up straight when you are speaking; a cheerful disposition will shine through. Open and close calls with pleasant greetings and exchanges. Saying “no problem” is no substitute for “you’re welcome.” And remember, always thank your customer for their business.
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