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Written by
Katy Ratican
2 Aug 2021
4 minutes
The most common mistakes businesses make when answering telephone leads
What business owners need to know about common phone answering mistakes and how to avoid them
The most common mistakes businesses make when answering telephone leads

All your marketing is designed to persuade your customers to get in touch with you. You invest a significant amount of money to get them to contact you. But when they eventually call you, if your phone answering process isn’t professional or it’s full of common mistakes, all your efforts will have been wasted.

This is one of the least talked about aspects of customer relationship management (CRM). To realise the need for professional phone etiquette, we first need to understand the common mistakes in your phone answering that are proving costly for customer acquisition and retention.

Common phone answering mistakes that businesses make

1. Not answering the call

We’re all human and at times, we get too busy to answer a call. This happens primarily because most business owners use the same number for professional and personal communication, which often results in fatigue and confusion.

But that’s no excuse to not take the call. It could be a customer, a potential client or a prospective partner. If you don’t answer, they will find someone else who will. This is another reason why businesses should consider getting a business answering service.

With a second line phone app, you’ll be able to send auto-reply texts to missed calls. This is an effective way to ensure that you don’t miss out on opportunities due to missed calls.

2. Unprofessional greeting

If it’s a business call, you need to greet the caller professionally. Unfortunately, some businesses rely on ad hoc or amateur responses. Picking up the phone and hurriedly saying “hello” or “yes” can make the other person feel rushed.

They may not be able to communicate what they had in mind. It also reduces the respect they may have for your business. Slowly greet the caller, introduce yourself and the business and how you’re able to serve the caller.

3. Being too casual

This is another phone answering mistake that unfortunately small businesses, startups and freelancers are prone to make. Their tone and manner can be casual and lacking in professionalism. They presume that since it’s a small business and it’s on their personal number, they can afford to be casual.

This should never be the case. Even if you know the customer, you don’t necessarily know the reason they are calling. Be professional and if they sound casual and friendly, you can choose to mirror that tone.

4. Keeping customers on hold

You wouldn’t want a business to keep you on hold. Your customers don’t like it either. It usually happens when businesses don’t have a system or don’t know who is the right person to address a query.

This forces business managers and owners to keep the customers on hold while they figure out who should be taking care of the call. This leads to a situation where the caller has to repeat whatever they said to the new caller, which will irritate them.

The solution is to assign responsibilities to individuals and ensure that whoever takes the call notes down what the caller says.

5. Collecting incorrect information

When the receiver isn’t trained to take down notes, they might misremember the caller’s information. This might mean they take the wrong order details or invoice number, for example. Once they realise their mistake, they’ll request the caller to repeat whatever they said.

No one likes to repeat themselves only to ensure that the other person has the right details. Whoever takes the call should sound interested and eager to answer any query. Before the caller starts giving information, the receiver should ask for time to either open their laptop or get a pen and notebook.

Once they get the information, they should confirm it before entering it into the system or registering a complaint.

6. Evading responsibility

Even if what the caller asks for isn’t your responsibility – maybe it’s the delivery service’s issue – you shouldn’t be evasive. This will reflect negatively on the business.

“For that, you’ll have to call _______” isn’t a professional answer. You should get their details, and then tell them that you’ll check and get back to them ASAP.

In short

When you’re taking a business call, you’re representing your business. Your interest or lack of it, and the professionalism and empathy with which you handle your phone answering will affect your brand reputation. Your hard work, commitment and the quality of your product or service won’t matter if the caller believes that you’re unprofessional.

Ensure that your business has an effective strategy in place for successfully answering any telephone leads.

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