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Recently I was at Business Connections meeting with Dirk Moeller. I was there to discuss where we were going in regards to this Blog. It was near noon and that being said, people were out to lunch and so Dirk jumps in and takes a few calls to pick up the lunch time call load. Yup, he is a hands-on type guy. Anyway, after listening to Dirks side of a few calls I noticed how he handled each one and it was obvious he has mastered phone etiquette and customer service. Since that day, each time I call I pay more attention to how my calls are handled. When I call Dirk, he handles even my calls, with true professionalism, (and we have been friends for 15 years).

Here is how Dirk handles a phone call. First, his demeanor changes as he picks up the phone, he smiles and modulates his voice and uses proper grammar and enunciation, the customer can instantly feel the professionalism, the welcoming soothing voice and confidence and the light mood that Dirk passes through the phone. He is a master. That is why his company, Business Connections, has won the ATSI Award for TWELVE consecutive years.

In contrast, have you noticed that most often when you call a business you are greeted by someone who seems to have no idea of how to greet you or even why you are calling?

As a business man, even I am guilty of not conducting myself properly when I answer the phone. I have made sure that anyone that is responsible for answering the phone or making calls on the phone on my behalf, are somewhat professional. After working with Dirk, we are on a mission to improve our phone handling skills, after all, first impressions can never be changed.

So, how do you develop a professional telephone greeting?

1. Always have your employees use an approved salutation.
Think of your salutation as a verbal handshake. Remember, a handshake was originally used by men to show that they were not carrying a sword or a knife and that it was safe to stand close together.  We assume that for this article you are having your phone answered by a person not a machine. In today’s business culture,  it gets exciting when you have an opportunity to speak with a live person. Make certain your callers are greeted professionally and warmly every time they are contacted.

2. Always state your company’s name.
In many situations, the person charged with answering your telephone is the first point of contact with your company, therefore, include your company name in the approved greeting. This will confirm for the customer that they have dialed the number correctly. Always speak slowly and be careful of your pronunciation and enunciation, your customers will remember your corporate name easier when they hear it pronounced correctly.

3. Always state your department name and then your name.
Be certain to state the name of your department, then your name. This will help your customers know they have been connected to the appropriate place. Giving your name adds a personal touch to your greeting and starts to establish a rapport with your caller. If you work in sales or in other professions where name identification can be critical, it can be an excellent marketing tool by using your first and last name,.

4. Always offer assistance
The reason you are on the telephone is to help your customer get what they need from your company. Asking questions like, How may I help you? or How may I direct your call? demonstrate your willingness to assist your customer.

Jim Knox, Webmaster and Blogmaster, ION Business and Marketing

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