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With the ushering in of global economy, telephone communication – like all other forms of business communication – is gaining in importance. Many companies that conduct business over phone are particularly keen that their key staff members are aware of proper telephone etiquette.
It may not be an exaggeration to say that lack of proper telephone etiquette at the office can even break some sensitive business negotiations. It will therefore be useful to know certain basics of telephone etiquette at the office.
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Initiating a Call
When initiating a telephone call, make it a point to start with a greeting and then identify yourself and your company so that the recipient will know whom he/she is talking to. While conducting business over telephone, you have to be extremely polite, patiently listen to what the person or customer at the other end has to say and not needlessly interrupt.
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Listening and Responding
However, when listening to the caller or called party, make sure to regularly utter “yes" or “I see" or such suitable phrases. This will satisfy the other person that you are avidly listening to him/her. Be ready with a small note about the purpose of your call as most of the time you will be connected to the telephone operator and not directly to the person you want to talk. Never feel hurt if you are told to leave a message or call again later because the person you wish to talk to may be busy or not available.
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Maintaining a Diary
It is advisable to maintain a telephone diary and note down the pertinent points of what the caller says. This will enable you correctly refer when speaking to the caller again. When calling unannounced over phone, ascertain if the other person is free and has the time or else, briefly explain the purpose of calling and seek an appointment for talking further.
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During phone conversations, pronounce your words properly and modulate your voice carefully so that the other party is able to grasp your message easily. Speaking coherently and in a pleasant professional voice is very important when handling business phone calls.
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While ending a call, say something positive like how you enjoyed talking to that person and thank him/her for sparing their time. Please know that in today’s global economy, people conduct business across countries without ever meeting face to face. Ending a phone conversation on a gracious note will leave the door open for subsequent follow-up calls.
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Other Etiquette Tips
Almost all business phone calls are made for some genuine reason, and a supplier or a customer will seldom call for a friendly chat. It is therefore necessary, in the larger interest of business, that you create a good impression by responding as pleasantly and yet as professionally as possible.
It is good to bear in mind that a telephone conversation is next best only to a face-to-face meeting. Although email and instant messaging are becoming popular tools for office communication, the telephone still plays a critical role for running a business. In view of this, telephone communication must adhere to certain basic etiquette to make the conversation pleasant and productive for your company.
Finally, one must mention the "Hold" feature while speaking of telephone etiquette as the "Hold" feature is a dangerous tool that can cut both ways. It is a fact that all people are not available all the time to take a phone call and it is equally true that most callers feel annoyed when calls are put on hold. If you must put someone on hold, politely explain the reason. Most callers will feel satisfied with an explanation that sounds genuine and justified. If the hold is going to be unduly long, it is preferable to advise the caller to call again later or leave a message instead.
Image Credit: AT-Telephone Large - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ATTtelephone-large.jpg