Your business telephone is the first point of contact between you and your customers, so certain rules need to be observed to maintain a professional manner at all times.
When you call a customer, you should have thought about what you are going to say before you dial their number. Have an agenda in your head of the things you need to say and how you want the phone conversation to go.
When the call is answered, give your full name and company name and ask for the person you wish to speak to. State the reason for your call and ask the person if you can have a few minutes of their time.
If a customer calls you, good business etiquette dictates that the call should be answered by the third ring. If it takes longer than this, you should apologise for the delay.
Give a greeting (i.e. ‘Good morning!’), state your full name and company name and ask how you can be of assistance. Do not eat, drink, chew or continue typing while answering the call. All these things can be heard clearly and as well as being the height of rudeness, they indicate to the caller that they do not have your full attention.
Putting callers on hold
If you need to put a caller on hold for any reason, ask them if they would mind hanging on for a minute and wait for them to agree before putting the phone down.
Do not leave the caller on hold for more than two minutes. If you must leave them on hold for longer, pick up the phone, apologise for the delay and explain why you must keep them on hold.
If they are still on hold after another two minutes, apologise again, offer to call them back and ask for their phone number. Make sure you do call them back and preferably within 30 minutes.
Mobile phones allow business people to call each other anywhere and at any time, and this creates its own unique set of problems.
When talking business on a mobile phone, always be aware of your surroundings. Most other people will not appreciate being party to your conversation, so keep your voice down when in a public place. You also never know who might be listening, so all the more reason to keep your conversation private.
Mobile phones also allow you to set whatever ring tone you want. But if you wish to be seen as professional, save the funny noises or rock tracks for your own time and stick to a professional phone ring.
Finally, always turn your mobile off when in meetings, as there is nothing more distracting than a phone ringing at a crucial moment. It is not only unprofessional, but indicates to other people that you do not value their time.