The Demeanor of a Troll Meets Your Business Phone (beware)

by Lori Saitz on October 29, 2009

What’s the most professional way to answer the phone at your place of business? Do you have a standard that you’ve implemented for yourself and the people who work with you? Many successful entrepreneurs have created systems for running every aspect of their business, but handling phone calls seems frequently overlooked. And yet the phone is the gateway into your company, the first point of contact for many customers.

What kind of impression are you giving?

Gateway vs intrusion
Too many people view a ringing phone as an interruption. If you can’t talk right now, don’t answer. And if you do answer, be pleasant. Does this sound like basic phone etiquette? Because it seems like a lot of companies haven’t figured this out yet and in case they’re wondering why business isn’t so good, this could be the reason.

Demeanor of a troll
I was given a referral the other day and called her company’s main number to be greeted by someone I will kindly describe as having the demeanor of a troll. I was then told, “She’s not available.” Okay, do I get any options here? Can you transfer me to voicemail, take a message, suggest a better time to reach her?

I’m already thinking, do I even want to do business with a company that treats its callers this way?

Think differentiation
How you answer your phone is one more opportunity to distinguish your company from the rest. I once worked with a company that had everyone cheerfully answering their phones with “It’s a great day here at Office Furniture Company. This is Christine. How can I make it a great day for you?” (Okay, well, they didn’t all say “this is Christine,” they each used their own names!)

This greeting worked well for a few reasons.

It was different, so it would catch people off guard, in a good way. Wow, the person answering the phone sounds positive!

Since they identified themselves, you knew who you were talking with, which in my book always increases a caller’s comfort level. From a marketing standpoint, it personalizes your company and allows the start of a relationship. From a practical standpoint, if you got disconnected or needed to call back for any reason, you knew whom to ask for. Even if you are the only one answering your business phone, not everyone knows that and knows who you are, so identify yourself.

Asking that question of ‘How can I help…” immediately set the stage for an interaction that promised to be helpful to the caller. It also allowed the caller to get creative, if they were so inclined, which also led to a lot of humorous conversation starts.

And we all know that fun and laughter is good for business!

Take a look at your customer service phone etiquette.
What can you do to help callers feel good about contacting your company? How can you start conversations on a friendly note and differentiate your business at the same time? Or what good phone greetings have you heard lately?

I want to know. Post your comments and share!

More from:

  • Lori Saitz and her customer service series at Women Grow Business;
  • Seth Godin and the value of ‘who answers’ your business lines;
  • Freshbooks and human customer support, small business, and the phone;
  • Pro Edge Skills and (3) steps to great phone greetings for your business.
  • Lori Saitz

    Guest contributor Lori Saitz is founder of Zen Rabbit Baking Company. She helps people show appreciation for and give recognition to others. The main (delicious!) tool her team uses to help accomplish this important feat is through The Gratitude Cookie(tm). A thin, crunchy cross between a butter and a sugar cookie, The Gratitude Cookie is so named because if you’re eating the cookies, you’re encouraged to think about something you are grateful for as you munch on each one.

    (Image Ring Ring Ring by Define23, Creative Commons)

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