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The Telephone In Business

by Alan Rock

Before Alexander Graham Bell patented the device to transmit vocal or other sounds telegraphically, people would transmit though pipes or via a string between two diaphragms. My guess none of the people credited with this invention ever saw the possibilities of its use. The question remains how we use it?

The observable use was to communicate over distances with friends and family. Today however, the telephone is used in numerous ways, and with the advent of mobile or cell phones the uses mount up. The target of my telephone uses for this article will center on how to use it in business.

First of all when someone calls your business how the call is answered should be a primary concern of yours. The basic courtesy from the 'Greeting' to the final act tells the caller what kind of business you run. I'm not speaking about your product or service I'm speaking about your 'Customer Service'. I believe that customer service starts before and during the entire relationship. How you deal with people says a lot about your product and/or service. It's your first impression and your lasting impression.

When callers are put into a maze of choices, frustration builds and impressions are made about you and your company. I would bet that your goal is to make the inbound caller feel comfortable and confident that they are calling a place that they would like to do business with. I always suggest that the CEO (the big boss) call his own business and listen to how he or she is treated and how the phone system works. Are you talking to a real person or an automated attendant? So, my first suggestion is to make sure that incoming calls should be handled in a very easy way to make the caller feel welcome. Even if you have 'Auto-Attendant' a real person should answer the phone and auto-attend should be a back-up when your operator is real busy, and the announcement on the auto-attend should state that the operator is busy and be right with you however if they know the extension that could dial it at any time. If your caller is placed On-Hold, you should consider a Message-On-Hold, one that give information about your business. For the new caller they will learn about your business and many of the questions they have could be answered with your On-Hold message. For your long time clients they might learn more about your business and about products and or services they have been going elsewhere to obtain.

The telephone is a very person-to-person tool and should be treated with the same respect that you would use if you were face to face. Listening is the most important skill one must master in all cases however on the phone it become paramount since you cannot see the other person's body language. You must not only listen but you must learn to match the style of the person with whom you are speaking. If they speak slowly, then you speak slowly. If they use visual words like 'I see what you mean' or 'it looks good' you should use visual language as well. If they use auditory language like 'I hear what you're saying' or 'sounds good to me' then you use auditory speech as well. By matching your caller you make them feel more comfortable and they like to do business with people who are like them.

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