A majority of our time in the forklift industry is spent on a telephone. Whether you are an inside or outside salesperson, a manager trying to purchase new equipment, or the administrator trying to properly direct an incoming call, the phone plays an integral part in the success of our business. The business of buying and selling forklifts puts you in contact with many different types of people from all different walks of life and cultures. Knowing how to properly communicate with your customers or potential customers via the telephone can greatly impact the performance of your store. Here are some tips for all employees to remember when the phone rings
Answering the phone
- Always answer the phone professionally. Avoid using words or phrases like “yeah”, or “what’s up”. You never really know who is going to be on the other end of the phone, even with caller ID.
- Announce your name. Letting people know who they are talking to creates an early bond. Just letting the customer know your name can set a much more relaxed mood to any conversation. You become a person and not just “someone on the other end”. I would guess that about 85% of the time when I call another forklift company, this rule is broken. I am constantly asking the question of “who am I speaking with”? This always seems to throw the person on the other end for a loop, and I can understand with amount of telemarketing calls we all get on a daily basis, but this is phone etiquette 101. Taking the shortcut of not announcing your name can be a very costly mistake, and may give the person on the other end the impression that your place of business is not run as well as it should be.
- Smile when you answer a phone call. It has been said that you can hear a smile over the phone. Your tonality when smiling is noticeable to the person on the other end of the phone. You will project a more positive vibe into your conversation. Here is a little snip from the website “For Dummies”, that explains why this happens.
You can find the rest of this article at http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/improving-your-inflection-on-the-phone.html
Placing a caller on hold, or transferring calls
- An important rule to remember here is to ALWAYS ask if the caller would mind being placed on hold. After a customer has asked for someone specific, we should never respond with “Please Hold”, unless absolutely necessary. The caller may be very busy and just prefer to call back rather than be placed on hold for an unknown amount time. If possible you should always give an expected hold time or a reason for the hold. A good example that we have happen many times a day is “Can you please hold for a few moments while I locate him or her in the warehouse”?
- Transferring a call should follow the same rules. ALWAYS ask if it is okay to transfer them to the right person or department. Give them a reason for the transfer. Once again the same example of a person being out in the warehouse can apply. “I am sorry, but Andy is currently out in the warehouse, would you mind if I transferred you to his cell phone or voicemail”? This would be an example of proper phone etiquette.
- Always try and get the name of the person who you are transferring or that is being placed on hold. (This is my own biggest improvement area). That way if the person they are on hold for doesn’t pick up, you have at least helped create some sort of bond between the caller and your company when you take the message.
It is extremely helpful when transferring a call, because now that person you are transferring them to can start using the customer’s name right away to create a good comfort level in the conversation.
- Stop what you are doing and listen to what the person on the other end is saying. Sounding busy or preoccupied can make the person on the other end feel rushed. This can lead to important details being left out of the conversation or forgotten. These types of errors can lead to mistakes that set up a confrontation with a customer that has not felt important from the moment you answered the phone. If you are too busy simply don’t pick up the phone. It is better to let the phone call to someone else or a voicemail.
- Take detailed notes and do not be afraid to ask questions. Getting as much information as possible is a key to providing the best service to your caller.
Ending the phone call
- Recap and repeat! Make sure you repeat the actions you are going to take with a caller and well as the information they have given you. It may be as simple as stating that you will deliver the message as soon as the person they are trying to reach is available, or a little more detail like repeating the 4 forklifts and their specifications you just discussed with them. This will cut down on errors and wasted time. There is nothing worse than putting effort into a proposal, then it being completely not what the customer was looking for.
- Set a follow up call. If you are in sales, always look to set a designated time when you can follow up with your customer. Setting a solid time increases the likelihood of you customer making a note or putting something in their calendar which is turn keeps you visible and fresh in their mind when they need something. A key to a being successful with selling forklifts is being the first person thought of when a machine is needed. Success rates are 35%-45% higher, being the initial call. (TelusInternational.com).
- Be sure to thank the caller before hanging up. It lets them know you appreciate their business. You should always use the phrase “Good-Bye” when ending a call. Using phrases or slang like “Bye-bye”, “later”, or “alright”.
None of us are perfect. We can all using coaching when it comes to certain aspects of our daily lives. Listed below are some helpful websites that helped me write this article. There are some pretty good reads that get very in-depth when it comes to the importance of phone etiquette in the workplace.