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Written by
Katy Ratican
5 Oct 2021
4 minutes

Customer service 101: Phone etiquette for local businesses

The importance of phone etiquette for small and local businesses, with eight tips to get it right
Phone etiquette local businesses

You may not realise it but every phone call is a sneak peek into your business. It tells the caller whether you’re credible, trustworthy, professional or friendly. So, for a local business answering phone calls with the right phone etiquette should top the list of priorities.

What is business phone etiquette?

Business phone etiquette is the practice of answering business calls with the utmost professionalism, friendliness and respect. It’s about answering any queries and providing all the necessary information.

Why is business phone etiquette important?

We form opinions of those we meet based on what they say, how they say it, their body language, their facial expressions etc. When we talk, we unknowingly mimic the other’s emotional state. But over the phone, the caller won’t be able to see your expressions or body language.

How will the caller know your friendliness and professionalism when they can’t see or mimic your expressions? Through business phone etiquette. The words, tone, emphasis, smile and author audio cues need to communicate everything your business stands for.

To understand its importance, you only need to put yourself in the shoes of the caller. When you call a business and if they sound unfriendly, hurried, incoherent or impatient, you would have an unfavourable impression of the business.

That’s why when you launch your business, you should pay attention to your business phone etiquette. No amount of digital marketing, public relations or advertising can help a business if it has poor etiquette when dealing with clients and customers.

Examples of good business phone etiquette

Among the many examples of good business phone etiquette, these are the most important:

Welcoming and introducing yourself and the business: When you introduce yourself and your business with a welcoming and friendly tone, the caller will feel relaxed.

Speaking calmly and slowly: You shouldn’t sound hurried. Be clear and calm and focus all your attention on the caller.

Not interrupting and taking down notes: Resist the urge to interrupt the caller and listen to them. Take notes of their queries to help them better.

Be joyful: When you’re friendly and cheerful, the caller will unknowingly mimic those emotions.

8 phone etiquette tips for businesses and freelancers

Have a consistent message: Introduce yourself, the business and the location if you have multiple offices or stores. Be consistent with that welcome note.

Smile: Always smile when you pick up the phone and train your team on this. Research shows that the caller will sense your smile.

Don't interrupt: Don’t correct, don’t interrupt and don’t talk over the caller. This will take some practice and effort.

Use the hold button: Know where the hold button is and use it if you want to talk to your colleagues during the call.

Use the transfer button: Inform the caller to who you are transferring the call and request their permission to brief the individual.

Inform the caller: Tell them what you’re going to do. Be helpful and confident and not uncertain. Don’t say “I think I should talk to the delivery guys.” Say “I will talk to the delivery team.”

Don't get angry: No matter how angry they get, you shouldn’t respond in anger. Raise your voice slightly more than that of the caller while maintaining a friendly tone.

Beware of background noise: It will sound louder to the caller and your business will come across as cluttered and unprofessional.

How to keep business phone answering in-house

But does all this mean that you have to outsource your phone to a small business answering service? No. That could be expensive and complex. What you need is a second line for work through a second-line app. It will:

  • Be extremely cost-effective

  • Enable you to create a professional business voicemail

  • Give you a dedicated number for work

  • Be easy to set up

  • Get you a second number for business without having to buy a new device

  • Enable you to create auto-text replies to missed calls

In short

Just like finding the right bank account, getting your small business phone answering to sound professional should also be a business objective. Learning business phone etiquette will go a long way in making sure that your business sounds welcoming and feels approachable.

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