Calling on the phone is a lost art. But in many cases, making a phone call is still the most effective way of getting things done. The immediate exchanges and the ability to convey emotion make phoning a crucial way to make a connection, in business and life. For those same reasons, phone calls can sometimes get awkward, which leads many of us to avoid them entirely in favor of text messages or email. In fact, a 2019 survey found that over half of UK office staff, and 70% of millennial employees, suffered from “phone phobia”!
Stop getting “hung up” over answering the phone by remembering these 6 steps:
Give it time to chime
Give the person you are phoning at least 20 seconds to get to their phone. It may be at the bottom of their bag, or in a different room. They may also be taking a few extra seconds to compose themselves before picking up your call. This is a good idea, as you may sound hurried and frantic if you answer immediately.
When you don’t know who is calling, answer with at least your first name. “Hello, Konrad speaking” is sufficient. This puts the person phoning you at ease.
If the person you are calling didn’t get the memo, state your name before confirming whom you are talking to.
We’re all busy these days, and phone calls are an intrusion. Show others you value their time by stating the purpose of the call within the first 10 seconds of the call. The purpose may be to pose a question, to ask for something, or just to chat. Letting the other person know why you are phoning puts them at ease immediately.
Let them slide into your VMs
Unless you have at least 3 minutes to talk, let the call go to voicemail. It is better for the person calling to leave you a voicemail than to hear you say you “don’t have time”. If you have a limited amount of time, state it at the beginning of the call.
Voicemails should be responded to within 24 hours.
Record a greeting
The best voicemail greetings are brief; all the caller wants to know is that they’ve reached your number, and that you will hear their message. The best ones are also personally recorded, not one of those robotic ones from the phone company. On business lines, a good idea is to update your greeting daily and state the date, as well as a promised call back time. This lets customers know you are working that day and will respond promptly.
One thing your callers are not looking for is second hand embarrassment. If you wouldn’t want your greeting broadcast on the radio, it is time for an update!
Caller ends the call
If you made the call, it is up to you to end it. If the person you phoned is trying to wrap up the conversation, you have waited too long
And there it is: your Rosetta stone to using the phone. May your future calls be free of pitfalls. Knowing how to be effective on the phone will help you in matters personal and professional. Don’t forget to smile when you dial!