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Personality Plus - You Have the Power to Make A Difference

Aug 17, 2007
You may not have thought of it this way, but the telephone is just another sales counter. The customer at the other end of the phone is just like the customer at the counter, with one big exception: The customer cannot see you!

This means you have to work harder to project a pleasant and professional image. Of course, the customer can not see you smile. But believe it or not, they can hear it in your voice. And use the customer name as much as possible. It is surprising how much rapport you can establish by an informal, business-oriented conversation.

Do not keep customers waiting!

No one likes to be kept waiting - - especially when it is not necessary. When you make a phone call, it is exasperating when the phone rings and rings, and no one answers the phone. When it happens to you, do you assume that the people who are supposed to answer must be legitimately busy elsewhere? Most of us do not. We immediately assume that the people who ought to answer are neglecting their jobs and neglecting us.

What do you do when you are talking on the first line, another call comes in on the second line, and there is no one else to answer it? You need to interrupt your first call with a polite apology to acknowledge the second call. The first caller will take it gracefully if it is done with courtesy and tact. Just make sure you wait until the first caller has finished his or her thought - this only takes a few seconds - before asking if you may put him on hold. The second caller will be much happier, too. Because you have taken a moment to answer the ringing telephone, he or she will know that you are aware of the call and that you will be back as quickly as you can. A standard policy to consider setting is to answer all telephone calls by the second ring!

Never leave an interrupted caller holding for longer than 30 seconds. It may not sound like much time, but on the phone, 30 seconds can seem like hours, and a minute can seem like a lifetime.

When you answer the second call, say, I have another call on hold right now, would you mind if I called you right back? Then get the callers name and phone number.

When you return to the first call, be sure to thank the caller for holding and use his or her name if you know it: Thank you for holding, Mr. Smith. Never leave a caller on hold longer than a few seconds. The only exception is when the caller has stated he or she prefers to hold. In this case, be sure to check back every 30 seconds, even if it is just to thank them for their patience and ask if they want to continue to hold. Just because callers choose to hold does not mean they will continue to hold indefinitely. You also will find that callers who are involved in the decision to continue holding are more tolerant.
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Pj Germain
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