How to Make a Successful Business Call

How to Make a Successful Business Call

Everyone has to make calls. Business calls, not the family and friends call that you look forward to. Maybe you need to order something or find out information. Here are some tips from a person who has been on the other end of the line for more than 15 years.

When you call, be as prepared as you can. Never make a business call without a working pen and paper. There are some things that I might ask of you which I do not expect you to have right at hand. But a pen and paper is basic to any task. Plan to ask the basic questions asked in every business call, who, what, when, where and how or why. “In June I ordered a dress from your company online but I never got a confirmation and I never got the dress. I do not know if my order went through or not.” What are you asking? If you can tell me that we will have a much more successful phone call than if not. At least tell me the details you know. If your story is more than one part, give it to me in logical sequence. You might begin at the most recent contact with my company or organization. ” In April I called and spoke with Ann who confirmed my request was processing and should be finished by this date. Can you tell me where it is now?”

If you are able to leave a noisy or crowed room to talk on the phone, please do so. If you can turn down the television or radio that would be very kind. Sometimes these measures are not possible. If you are watching young children you can not even turn your back on them. In that case, step as far as you safely and sensibly can, lift whatever hand is not holding the receiver so that the palm faces flat about two inches from your mouth and speak in a normal voice. This works great with people who suffer hearing loss if you are talking to them or to customer service representatives who can not hear over your household noise. If you need to speak up you can adjust your voice level as needed.

Speak slowly, especially when imparting information like your address. Try to time your information as if you were writing it down for the first time, which your representative may be doing. When asked a question, don’t be shy – answer! “What is your name” should not be difficult to answer. But I have callers who give a first name, a nickname or a last name only. I feel like a dentist pulling teeth when I have to pry information out of you. When you write your address on a form, do you leave off the zip code? Do you just list the street numbers and name? Do not assume you are talking to someone local. Some questions should be easy to answer. If you do not understand a question, please ask for confirmation. “I am sorry, I was distracted. What did you ask?” works well. “Huh?” does not, especially if you say it more than once a minute.

Shopping is a term customer service representatives refer to when a person calls multiple times, each time allowing the representative to do all the research without any details of previous calls and then wails “I get different answers every time!” The wail is valid enough. But when you consider you got a different person, with different training levels and different systems for looking up answers of course you’ll get different answers! Are they wrong? Probably not. I usually push people to tell me “what did the other folks tell you that’s not matching my answer?” I can usually explain those answers. But if you are continually calling to get the answer you want sooner or later someone is going to give it to you. That does not mean it is true or correct. But some folks buckle under pressure. I do not blame them, though I do not give out wrong answers if I can help it, even at the risk of making someone mad. So call once, or twice if the first call is unsatisfactory. If the second call still is unsatisfactory you may need to take other steps to get the help you need.

Finally, there is the issue of supervisors. My supervisors’ job is to supervise me. That includes approving my time keeping, authorizing overtime, getting my computer fixed when it breaks, etc. I realize there are magazine articles that say you need to talk to a supervisor to get what you want. I am here to tell you that is not how it works in most customer service areas. If I think there is something that needs to be elevated I will make an attempt to do so. But my supervisor cannot do much more than I can in the customer service arena. At best she can go to the source of the problem to try to get it fixed or looked at. I can do that, too. I know how and when it’s appropriate to take what actions. I have no problem with fetching a supervisor for you. But it’s probably not going to do you any good. The one exception is in direct regards to customer service. If I, or anyone else have been rude to you then ask for that manager! I only ask that you tell me what I did wrong. For eight hours a day I am paid to be nice to people and I take that seriously. If I have disrespected you, or been rude to you in any way, let me know. I would like to fix it if I can. Or at least explain my behavior. For example, I have a habit of reviewing the conversation we’ve had at the end of the call. What we have said, what I have done and what you need to do next is all important enough to repeat briefly. I have had a customer think that was condescending. When she told me this I was able to sort out that it was my tone that caused the problem. I did not mean to, but I sounded like I was lecturing her. I corrected that and have not had a complaint since on that issue.

Be prepared. Handle noise and distractions. Answer questions as clearly and correctly as possible. Do not shop for answers! Know when to ask for a supervisor. Tell your representative what you need and when you feel they are not providing you good service. All of these tips will help you have a better business phone call. Good luck!

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