Our guide to small business phone etiquette tells you exactly what to say when you answer the phone.
The Evolution of the Telephone in Business
The telephone has become an invaluable sales tool, ever since its invention. The first contact between customer and business remains most commonly — the telephone. First impressions count, so whether the first voice your prospective customer hears is a receptionist’s or an IVR (Interactive Voice Recording) professional tone and courtesy are paramount. Despite the technological advances in telephony — from the old party line and operator through to PBX switchboards, cell phones and Cloud-based services, the constant factor is, as always, customer service.
The telephone has become an invaluable sales tool since its invention by Alexander Graham Bell. Sales over the telephone are made or interest in a product or service is generated every hour of the day and night around the world. Ask anyone who owns and operates a business if they could survive without a telephone, and the majority, if not all, would say that doing business without the use of a telephone would be impossible.
In this electronic world, the first contact between a business and a customer is usually made on the telephone. That first voice a customer hears when calling a business is an important one. Tone and courtesy are as important for the receptionist as a knowledge of the product or the service the business offers.
In this day of condo offices and other shared business spaces, that first contact — whether with an Interactive voice response (IVR) or contacting a receptionist — is vitally important. We have all spoken with a receptionist from another country who seems to have a limited grasp of English. Interactive voice response systems that use a voice menu function extremely well and can help the caller get to the required department without delay. The idea of even a small business using a virtual receptionist for small business is taking hold.
As businesses grow in size and complexity this virtual receptionist for small business needs becomes apparent. The potential customer or the satisfied customer does not want to waste time on the telephone in contacting a business for the first or fiftieth time and any system, whether a simple voice menu or an interactive voice response, is a great asset for any business.
The interactive voice response is shortened to IVR, and it has made customer to business contact much easier. The IVR is replacing having to deal with a discourteous receptionist or one who hardly understands English. We all want a fast track answer to our questions for any business and the business owner wants to maintain a helpful positive image. Business owners know that making a sale can be hard, but losing a sale is very, very easy. The first contact between customers and a business must be a combination of friendly and courteous discourse and helpful answers to the client’s business questions.
The business owner was, at one time, the perfect receptionist! When a customer calls or walks in the door, the owner knows that this is his/her golden opportunity to make, not only a sale, but to create a customer who will come back again and again and will help the business by telling friends and family about the benefits of this business. Once the initial stage of business success has been achieved the business owner must relegate tasks to competent employees. The owner must keep his or her employees happy and keep their morale high in order to continue the success of the business. These owner/employee relations are one of the most difficult aspects of any business. Having an interactive voice response system in place solves a very large problem with that initial contact phase of any business. Once again a machine, the telephone and a service, the virtual receptionist for small business systems have combined to make customers and business owners happy. Thanks IVR.