The Trader's Handbook
Improve Your Telephone Etiquette In 6 Easy Steps
While texting, email, and social media continue to be the most popular forms of communication nowadays, many people still prefer a direct phone conversation with their tradesperson before hiring them for the job. That’s because a simple phone call can reveal a lot about your professionality and the type of customer experience your clients can expect to receive.
This essentially means poor telephone etiquette can cost you clients. No matter how great you are at your job, if a client feels you are rude or unhelpful over the phone, it’s very unlikely that you will win them back.
The good news is that it’s really easy to make clients feel they can trust you over the phone. Discover our 6 top tips to improve your telephone etiquette and deliver a positive customer experience on every call.
1. Answer calls in a quiet area
As a tradesperson, you will more than likely need to answer client calls while you’re out on the job. This may mean a call may crop up while you’re on a busy worksite with lots of background noise around you. As much as possible, only answer calls when you can speak in a quiet space. If necessary, head to your car or van, or move into a private room. This will ensure you won’t need to shout over the noise in order for the client to hear what you’re saying. Ultimately, you want the client to feel as if they are dealing with a professional who is dedicating their full attention to their call as soon as you pick up.
2. Introduce yourself and your business
Any phone call you receive on your business line could be a potential lead. That’s why it’s always a good idea to answer calls by introducing yourself first. This will ensure the caller knows exactly who they are dealing with, which will put them at ease. Rather than answering with a question – “Hello, who is this?”- take charge of the conversation by introducing your name, business, and asking how you can be of assistance: “Hello, this is John from Check Your Traders. How can I help you?” This will establish a professional tone from the very start of the call.
3. Clarify who is calling you
Always clarify who you are speaking to. It may be a small detail, but research shows that we experience a positive reaction when businesses use our name. That’s because we are drawn to the sound of our names. It also helps humanise the phone call. As a tradesperson and business owner, this is an important step that will work in your benefit because it creates a more personal interaction between yourself and the client. A simple gesture like using a client’s name may mean they’ll be more inclined to hire you for the job over a competitor who may sound cold or uninterested.
Furthermore, by establishing the name of the client at the beginning of the call, you can sidestep the awkward situation of having to ask for a name at the end of the call or, worse still, at a later date should you have to call them back with additional details.
4. Use a pleasant and friendly voice
When you are dealing with a client face-to-face, they can learn a lot about you from your posture, the expression on your face, and many other non-verbal cues. Over the phone, you need to rely on your voice to sell yourself and instil client trust. That why it’s essential to develop a friendly and welcoming telephone voice that sounds confident and in control. Don’t talk down to the ground or into your chest, as this may make your voice sound mumbled and unclear. Sometimes it’s important to add a little brightness to your voice because a neutral tone may make you sound uninterested or bored. A top tip is to speak with a smile on your face. This will automatically lend a friendlier tone and clarity to your speech that will help the client warm to you.
5. Listen and take notes
As a professional tradesperson, it’s highly recommended that you carry a notebook with you at all times. When a client calls, be ready to listen attentively to what they are saying and write down notes. Firstly, this is beneficial for you, as it will help you remember details following the call. This is especially handy when you have several clients with different jobs to follow up on. Secondly, you don’t ever want the client to be reminding you of what you should and shouldn’t be doing for their projects. This will frustrate clients and force them to lose trust in you. Having notes at hand will make it easier for you to fulfil their requests to the letter.
6. Establish next steps with the client
Before ending the call, reiterate any points discussed with the client. This will ensure you’re both on the same page and that you have all the information you need to follow up on their inquiry or request.
Also, if you’re serious about turning your leads into closed deals, then it’s also important to establish next steps. Whether it’s setting up an on-site consultation or sending over a quotation, clarify any contact details and follow-up appointments while you have the client on the line. Should you need to follow up with a client via another call, be sure to clarify the best time to call them. This will make it easier for you to reach the client at a time convenient for them, which is a gesture they’ll appreciate.