The 21st century has seen a lot of innovations in the world of communications. With the emergence of the second-generation cellular network, famously known as 2G in the late 1990s, sending short messages in real-time became possible. Today, you can do video calls and interact with the other party on an almost face-to-face level, thanks to 3G, 4G, and 5G networks.
However, despite all these developments, a phone call is still one of the best modes of communication. Apart from emails, memos, and social media posts, businesses also need an effective telephone system to interact with every customer. Of course, this has improved significantly over the past few decades.
In the past, almost all businesses have a hardware-based telephone system. Today, most companies have integrated software applications such as Power Dialer software to help improve the performance of their employees and meet ever-changing consumer demands. Even with such advancements, your call center agents will still need to adhere to best practices for effective calls. So, read on to learn how you can make every business call count!
1. Preparation Is Key
Just like any other official meeting, it’s imperative to attend to a phone call having researched all the necessary details ahead of time. Picking a phone call when you’re not well-prepared may lead to time wastage and you might not end up getting the information you need at the end of the conversation. To avoid asking irrelevant questions, spend a few minutes doing a little research.
So, what do you need to feel prepared for a business phone call? First, check all the relevant records regarding the person you’ll be on the phone with. What’s their name? What do they do and how is that related to your company? What’s the purpose of the call? Note these factors down to guide you in case you forget anything during the call.
Once you’ve determined all the details of your caller, you can then go ahead and list some of the questions that you’re going to ask. Make sure that each question is relevant to the topic and is aimed at generating new information that wasn’t already in your records.
Pre-call preparations ensure that you cover all the important topics within a short period. Remember, long calls can affect the flow of operations because a lot of time will be spent on one caller. It can also be unpleasant to the client and they may end up giving out wrong information because they’re in a hurry to end the call.
Of course, you can search your company’s database for anything you want, but that might be time-consuming. For that reason, it’s recommended that you invest in modern dialers like Call Cowboy which are designed to provide all the relevant information about any contact on your list. The advantage is that you’ll be ready, even in the case of an impromptu call.
. Determine The Right Time To Call
It’s important to understand that everyone’s schedule is quite different. The fact that you live in the same country doesn’t mean you can make calls at any time of the day. Of course, emergency calls can be allowed, but it’s always important to plan such meetings in advance. Send an email a day or so before making the call. This way, the other party will be expecting your call and will start preparing for it.
One advantage of planning calls in advance is the fact that it gives your callers enough time to also research whatever topic you’re planning to cover. At the end of the day, it’ll be beneficial to both of you because you’ll get the right and up-to-date information.
If you’re running an international business, then it’s imperative that you consider the time difference between the countries involved. Night and lunchtimes are some of the hours you shouldn’t include in your schedule. Also, try as much as possible to avoid calling during the holidays, whether international or national.
This is one aspect that’s become synonymous with any professional business call, but it’s easy to forget about it. Even with an official business number in place, it’s still very important that you identify yourself by stating your official name and the company from which you’re calling. In the same breath, be sure to verify the other party as well to avoid assumptions. You can start your calls by saying; “Hello, this is Jonathan Krul from ABC Ltd. Am I talking to Sam Jones?”
Of course, if you’re calling someone that you already know, then you can go for a more casual approach and cordial greeting but make sure you meet the same objective. So, what’s the purpose of this step in any business call?
First, it makes you sound professional, which is something that every client likes. Remember, during such calls, you’re representing your company. Therefore, starting off on the wrong foot might cost your business a customer. Verifying the other party is also important just to make sure that you’re talking to the right person before moving to the next step.
. Get Back On Topic
Regardless of who you’re calling, it’s always advisable to establish rapport. You can start the business call with a little chitchat like: “How are you doing?” “How’s the weather in your area?” There are many things you could ask to build that connection and make your caller feel at home.
However, such questions can lead to an interesting conversation, and you might end up forgetting about the purpose of the call. It is therefore important that you get back on topic as quickly as possible to avoid wasting time. Spare the first minute or two for the chitchat and then move to the main business of the day.
. Be Inclusive
As earlier stated, during such calls, you’re representing your company. In other words, every information you share will be considered as the company’s perspective and not your personal opinion using Ooma SIP. Therefore, you must show inclusivity by using pronouns such as “us” and “we”. This way, the other party will be aware that they’re dealing with the business as a whole and not just an individual.
. Avoid Buzzwords
A business call ought to be as professional as possible and using jargon words doesn’t cut it. Your aim is to be as clear and concise as possible. Make sure that you use the language that both of you understand. Specialized terms will only obscure meaning and make it difficult for the callers to comprehend what you’re trying to say.
Also, foul language should never be in your dictionary when making a business call. Remember, every person is different and you never know when they may feel offended. So, it’s important that you stick to your professionalism throughout the conversation. This will not only enhance communication between the two of you but will also paint a good picture of your business.
. Exercise Empathy
It’s important to understand that business calls can be very disruptive, especially for someone who’s having a busy day. As such, it’s important to be empathetic and respect your caller’s time. The first thing you should always ask is whether they are ready to continue with the call. If they’re not comfortable or their surrounding doesn’t allow them to do so, be sure to reschedule the meeting for another time which will be favorable to them.
During the call, it’s important that you listen more than your talk. Remember, you’re trying to gather new information from your caller. You can always acknowledge what they have to say by repeating some of the key points or verbally indicating that you’re on the same page. Of course, that’s not to say you should ignore their questions. Answer them as clearly as possible and refer them to the right resources, if possible, where they can get more information on the same.
. Offer A Brief History
This might not be applicable to all calls, but it plays quite a crucial role. As earlier mentioned, part of your preparation should include determining the main purpose of the call. With this in mind, it’d be wise to go through the records and various company notes to establish the basis of your conversation. After the introductory phase of the call, you can go ahead and tell a short story or brief history regarding that particular subject. This will provide context and will make sure that the information shared by your prospective customer will be relevant to the topic.
. Show Direction And Decisiveness
Decisiveness is key to winning the customer’s trust. Remember, as an employee, you’re being paid to be an expert in your field. Therefore, you must show confidence in whatever you’re sharing and answer every question without hesitation. Try as much as possible to avoids fillers such as “ah” and “um” or words like “maybe”. When you utter such words, all it tells your customers is that you’re not sure about what you’re talking about, which can be detrimental to the whole business.
Also, you ought to take charge of the conversation to ensure that the right topics are being discussed. Remember, the client’s time and your company’s resources are both in use here. So, it’s important to get the best out of this conversation within the shortest time possible.
Wondering how to take charge of the call? Well, it’s simple! Just make sure you ask the right questions and stick to the topic. Of course, you ought to make it more of a conversation than an interview if you’re going to get the best answers to your questions. Getting the right balance is key, and this is a skill that every call center or customer care agent should learn.
2. Close The Conversation
This is another part of a business call that many people forget to keep in mind. Since it’s the final part, you might be tempted to rush through it and end the call. First impressions matter, but the last impressions can also affect what you had already built. It’s imperative that you end the call in a good way to ensure that you’re both on the same page and avoid spoiling the reputation of your company.
The first thing you should do is recap the whole conversation. That’s why it’s imperative that you note down important points throughout the call. At the end of the call, you can mention those points quickly just to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. With everything confirmed, you can go ahead and share what your next steps will be.
For instance, if it’s something that requires a written report, you can tell the caller when the report will be ready. In such a case, it’s recommended that you be as specific as possible to avoid any confusion in the future. Rather than saying “The report will be ready next week,” you can, instead, say: “I’ll have the report for you next week on Friday.” This way, the client will know what and when to look forward to.
The whole point of going through these steps when closing the call is to ensure that both parties come out feeling a sense of accomplishment. The final thing you’ll need to do is thank the caller for their time and maybe wish them success. There are many ways to go about this, just make sure it comes out professional and appreciative.
Despite the ever-emerging innovations in the world of communications, phone calls still play a vital role in any business. They can be very productive when handled or done in the right way. But unfortunately, not every call center is equipped with the necessary skills to make an effective business phone call.
The tips provided in this article, however, can significantly improve one’s performance. As a call center agent, make sure you start by arming yourself with all the relevant information that’ll be necessary during the call. Begin every call by identifying yourself and verifying the other party. During the call, be empathetic, be decisive, and take control of the conversation. Also, make sure you end the call in the right way and share further steps whenever required.