The telephone is a primary communication link in today’s business world. To be ‎successful, you must be able to communicate effectively by telephone. The telephone ‎can be the first or only communication you have with a customer or business contact. ‎As a result, good telephone skills are essential at every level of an organization.‎

The Basics of telephone skills.‎

Basic telephone skills are imperative to the success of a business call. It will enhance the telephone experience for both ‎you and your customers. ‎

‎‎•‎ Greeting a caller

As you greet callers, you should make them pleased that they chose to do business ‎with your company. The first 30 seconds determines what kind of impression you will ‎make with callers. Your goal is to impress them with your knowledge, ability, ‎helpfulness, and courtesy.‎

There are four steps you should take to properly greet callers:

First, open the call ‎with a polite greeting, such as ”Good morning” or ”Good afternoon.” Second, state ‎the name of your company so callers know they have reached their intended call ‎location. Next, you should state your name. Doing so helps you begin to establish a ‎relationship with callers, which will make them feel more comfortable about doing ‎business with you. Finally, offer your assistance through phrases such as ”How may I ‎assist you?” or ”With whom would you like to be connected?” These steps show ‎callers that they have your full attention, that they have connected with a ”live” ‎person, and that you are pleased to assist them.‎

‎•‎ Answering questions

Another important telephone skill is answering questions. To do so successfully, you ‎must ensure that you clearly understand the needs of the callers. Then, you should ‎answer their questions promptly and efficiently.‎

If you do not know what information a caller needs, use clarifying questions to ‎identify exactly what information he or she wants. This action will help ensure that ‎you transfer the caller to the person best suited to assist him or her.‎

‎•‎ Listening to concerns

Listening to concerns during telephone interactions is another important skill you ‎should learn. Callers need to know that you are paying attention when they have a ‎concern or a problem. Use verbal cues such as ”yes” and ”I understand” to signal ‎that you are listening to what callers are saying. These cues replace the visual signals ‎of a face-to-face interaction.‎

‎•‎ Troubleshooting difficult calls

Since you may have to speak with upset callers, you should know the techniques you ‎can use to troubleshoot a difficult call. To help diffuse the situation, listen actively ‎and allow the caller to ”vent” his or her feelings without interruption. Then check ‎your understanding by paraphrasing the caller’s complaint in a calm manner.‎

After you are sure you understand the complaint, acknowledge the caller’s concerns ‎and show empathy with his or her point of view. Throughout the call, use positive ‎words such as ”I will,” ”we can,” and ”yes” and remember that your goal is to find a ‎solution to the problem or to negotiate a compromise.‎

‎•‎ Screening calls

Another telephone skill that requires careful execution is screening calls. Screening ‎calls requires a clear understanding of who you are screening for and why you are ‎doing so. Once the purpose is established, you can use one of three techniques to ‎properly screen calls. One technique is to take a message and set up a time for a ‎return call. Another technique is to handle the call yourself. A final screening ‎technique is to ask the caller to send information. This technique is frequently used ‎for unsolicited sales calls.‎

‎•‎ Taking messages

Taking messages is another basic telephone skill you need to know. Effective ‎messages require you to gather all of the information needed so the recipient clearly ‎understands the nature of the call and what action he or she needs to take to respond ‎effectively to the caller. Even if the caller does not want to elaborate, be sure to ‎obtain his or her full name, telephone number, and the purpose of the call.‎

‎•‎ Holding calls

When you need to place a caller on hold, you should follow several actions. Ask the ‎caller for permission to put him or her on hold and wait for a response. When you ‎return to the caller, offer a brief explanation, and then thank him or her for holding. ‎When putting callers on hold, keep in mind that an acceptable call hold time is 20 to ‎‎30 seconds.‎

‎•‎ Transferring calls

Another important telephone skill is knowing how to smoothly, efficiently, and ‎courteously transfer calls. You can minimize frustration by following a few simple ‎steps. First, determine ahead of time who should receive various types of calls so you ‎know how calls should be transferred. Next, avoid ”dead-end” transfers by remaining ‎with the caller until the call has been connected.‎

‎•‎ Completing a call

After you meet the customer’s needs, you are ready to complete the call. Summarize ‎the conversation by letting the caller know what actions you will be taking and when ‎they can expect the anticipated results. Additionally, thank the caller for his or her ‎time.