The phone is an important tool of the communication network. It provides fast and easy availability in business life, is the showcase of the workplace and bridges the gap with other institutions. In addition, it creates the internal communication network and is the first step of the dialogue.
Executive assistants perform most of the communication over the phone. Maybe you are in a meeting when the phone rings, maybe you are dealing with accounts, maybe you are at the computer. When you hear the phone ring, you have to give up your thoughts and actions. Remember that every ringing phone is a customer waiting on the opposite side. When used correctly and efficiently, ”Every Phone is a Business”.
Well, do you think you are a professional on the phone?
Count the “Yes” and “No” answers. If your “Yes” answers are in the majority, congratulations, you are a professional on the phone! If your “No” answers are in the majority, follow the below instructions carefully to improve yourself and establish telephone contacts flawlessly. Since the caller does not see you and you do not see him, much attention should be paid to words and tone. Using our hearing more efficiently on the phone minimizes misunderstandings and errors. Before starting to communicate by phone, goals and objectives must be set and certain rules must be followed. So, what should we do to communicate efficiently and successfully and how?
What should we do?
- Preparations should be made to establish mental, psychological and physical conditions before the phone call.
- Note paper, pen, appropriate timeline, calendar, mirror and contact list with in- ternal and external telephone numbers should be put on the table.
- Negative energies should be removed with mental activity.
- Distraction should be reduced by breathing for half a second and thoughts on the head should be emptied.
Because every person you talk to is precious and unaware of your situation.
The phone is a verbal communication tool – use it efficiently.
When talking on the phone, we cannot see the body language, which is a large per- centage of communication. However, the tone, timbre, color of the sound as well as the chosen words cause the revival of thoughts, encryptions and analysis in our minds. Since the reflections of our emotions affect our voice, the control should be provided by internalizing positive emotions and by using correct breathing techniques.
So, how should we do this?
- You should switch the phone on by smiling, if possible, on the 2nd or 3rd phone ring.
- You should start by saying the name of your institution and introducing yourself to the other person. In addition, you should pick the phone up with a sincere and reassuring tone and use the magic words (Good morning, Hello, Have a good day, Sir/Madam, How can I help you etc.).
- You should speak at a normal pace with a warm and dynamic tone of the sound. You should avoid uniform and long sentences.
- You should listen to the discourses of others respectfully and focus on the call to understand the message. Active listening is a good opportunity for directing the produced effect and correcting your mistakes. You should pay attention to not interrupt and make feel that you are listening.
- In order to understand the expectations and wishes of others, you should strive to evaluate the emotions in the speaker’s tone and emphasis.
- You should avoid the interrogator tone. Remember that nobody wants to be questioned!
- You should not use unbuttoned and overly friendly words. Words like my dear, my sweetie, my sister/my brother will not suit your professionalism and corporate image.
- When you call, you should first learn about the availability of the opposite side by introducing your institution and yourself. You should get feedback by conveying your message in an effective language.
- You should also pay attention to your body position while talking on the phone. Because your body posture reflects on your voice. Standing, sitting or being busy with something create differences in the sincerity of your voice.
- You must understand the different characteristics, expectations and physical or psychological conditions of each person you speak with, correctly.
- You must inform the opposite side before transferring a call.
- You should not forget to take notes to remember who the caller is, from where (institution name), what the message is and to whom you should forward the message.
What to consider in customer relations on the phone
While personal and face-to-face interviews allow for maximum of 5-6 customers per day, this number can rise up to 40-50 by phone. Since it is also economical in terms of time and cost, customer relations with phone are important. It should not be forgotten that every customer is unique and valuable for every business.
- You should make your customer feel special.
- Regardless of the status and age of the other person, you should speak to him respectfully.
- You must determine the needs and expectations of the customer. While doing this, you should be patient and flexible.
- You should value his/her ideas and suggestions and ensure customer loyalty.
- You should take care that the words you use are understandable and, if possible, free from technical terms.
- You should not forget to thank at the end of the conversation.
How to deal with difficulties?
A suitable tone should be used according to the personality characteristics, behavior styles and expectations of the customers. This behavior determines our image and the image of the institution. Every satisfied customer brings many businesses and other customers.
- When you encounter an angry speaker, you should give time for the speaker to calm down without personally perceiving. Remember, every complaint is a gift.
- When communicating with people who are shy and have difficulties in express- ing themselves, you should listen patiently and learn what they want by encour- aging them. Remember, it is you who guides the customer.
- It is difficult to deal with an aggressive speaker. In general, they increase the stress level by using high tone and rough language. You should listen to them calmly, make feel that you understand them and ensure their trust.
- You should not be biased until the speaker finishes his/her word, you should listen to them calmly, share his/her feelings and learn the main message.
- You should manage time well, as long or short conversations lose their effec- tiveness and efficiency. Remember, as time goes on, things move away from the purpose!
- You should speak with sweet language and soft tone. You should reach the solution without trying to put pressure on the other side.
- Before you tell your manager about the situation, you should get out of the effect and get rid of negative emotions.
Executive assistants use mostly the phone among the communication tools while assisting the manager. Due to their features (video messaging, sending mails, contact phone list, applications etc.) and portability, smart mobile phones of today’s technology provide more comfortable business and connections with employees.
Telephone conversations are not dull like written notifications, fax or mail. The mes- sage flow is vivid and warm, as people hear each other’s voices. Since the first impres- sion is important at all times and in every business, we are able to communicate effi- ciently, if we apply simple methods described above.
F. Firuzan Nakipoğlu – Lecturer of Department of Office Services and Secretariat of Marmara University