“Good Morning this is thimlonleodhoajgljogmmgkdosojoj, can I help you?”
“um, yes is this (insert proper company name here)?”
“Yes (sound slightly miffed and impatient) can I help you?”

I can’t tell you how many phone conversations I’ve had that started this way. I know using the phone is something many companies take for granted that their staff can do without any training so I thought I would offer some quick tips. Aileen style:

Answering the Phone:

When you answer the phone you are the most important person in your organization – your first words may be making a lasting impression. Speak clearly, and try and sound like it’s the first time you’ve said the name of your workplace that day (even if you have said it 564 times). We want to know that we have called the right place, we may want to know how to pronounce the name of the company, we want to know you are happy and proud to work there (by the sound of your voice). Practice now – can you answer the phone like it’s the best place to work in the world and you love your customers?

Decide what you are going to say when you answer. This depends on your business. The classic “Thank you for calling (insert company name).. this is (insert your name).. how can I help you?” works for many companies, but would sound really odd if I used it to answer my phone. If you are a casual, friendly company – be that. If you are somber and serious – be that. If you are slightly crazy and out there -be that. (you get the idea).  Whatever you say, mean it every time you say it.

Making a call:

Be prepared to leave a message, plan an outline of what you are going to say. Many people don’t answer their mobile phones to numbers they don’t recognize (because of all the spam calls) so it may be that your first contact is via a recording. Make sure the impression you leave is the one you want. So many people make it sound like they are in shock that it’s a voicemail that you just get a load of ums and ahs and some incoherent babble. Tell the person why you called to give them a reason to call you back. If you just leave your number and ask me to call I tend to presume you are just trying to sell me something I don’t need.

Whether it’s in person on on a voicemail sound friendly, and undistracted. No one is complimented by someone calling who is obviously doing other things. Nothing says “you are unimportant” like whispering to someone else on a call, typing (yes, we can hear you) or slurping on your coffee (yes, we can hear that too).

As you may suspect I could write a lot more about this, but they only give me this much space. Please remember the telephone is a way of communicating with people and that communicating may be the most important thing we ever do.

I know there is much more to say on this subject – What would you add? What things drive you crazy on the phone?

(This article first appeared in The Daily Advertiser on Tuesday July 10th, all rights reserved)