With over 15 years in business and over 3.1 million phone calls taken, the Smiledog team has a pretty good lens on creating a welcoming and professional phone call.

A lot of business owners, especially when they are growing, lose sight of how important professionalism is when answering phone calls. In fact, 71% of consumers still believe that phoning a small business is the most effective way to get their questions or concern addressed. 

Answering customer calls is often looked at as an interruption rather than an opportunity. This thought process sets most calls up for failure before they even start. A successful phone call revolves around two things; tone & empathy. It really makes or breaks most calls. So today, we want to share how to consistently deliver a professional tone and keep a sense of empathy throughout your calls.

1. Smile immediately to offer a sense of warmth

The moment you hear the phone ring, smile –  even if you have to force it. The entire tone of your voice will shift when you answer, and it will invite the customer into the call, putting them at ease. Listen to the difference below, and you can literally hear when someone is smiling vs. not.

Smiling:  Hi! Thanks for calling Smiledog, how can I help?

Not Smiling: Hi, thanks for calling Smiledog, how can I help?

All images are sourced from unsplash.com

I’m sure you can guess which recording had a smile and which didn’t. When you smile first, it creates a welcoming impression and invites your customer into the call.

2.  Always ask, “how can I help you?” to initiate support

Your introduction to a call should always include “how can I help you?” It opens the door to support, which is the main purpose of most phone calls. Rather than immediately explaining who you are and what your company does, ask them this important question instead. 

Sorry, not sorry, but a prospect doesn’t care if you’re the home of the best mattress in the U.S. or North America’s #1-rated lawn care system. They care about what you can do for them – quickly.  

Here’s an example of what to say and what not to say where the difference is pretty obvious. I was winded by the end of the second greeting, and by this point, the customer will be irritated.

By always ending your intro with how can I help you,” the door is opened for support, which is the main purpose of most phone calls. 

Asking this question ensures your prospects and clients always feel heard. Even if what they are saying isn’t true, they are getting it off their chest, and that is often more important than who is right or wrong. Now, to get into the next step of ensuring your phone calls are more professional… 

3. Listen closely with the intent of finding the right solution

It all comes down to your attitude when listening with the intent to help. Do you genuinely want to help this customer or simply check them off your list? This should be the easiest part of any call, but it’s usually the hardest. 

Before you jump into a line of questions for the customer to better understand, a quick “thank you for letting me know” or “I appreciate you reaching out” is best practice at this point in the call. It diffuses any potential tension customers may have as they explain the problem, and it helps them feel heard. Once that tension is diffused, you can jump into curious mode. 

4. Be curious and ask questions to understand the root of their concern

Now that you have an understanding of how to address the concern of incoming calls, it’s time to ask helpful questions. Paraphrasing or repeating a caller’s initial question/concern, then asking a deeper follow up question, is a very effective approach. It shows you have listened to what the caller has said and want to better understand their needs.

Here is a quick example of a real-world scenario we had from one of our prospects: 

  • Client Inquiry: “Hi there, I own a small business that specializes in counseling services and saw your company was mentioned in a Facebook Group I am part of. I am looking for more help with answering my phone and some admin tasks. Is that something you can do??
  • Our Response: Awesome, thanks for reaching out! We can certainly help. It is just a matter of where we can be most effective. You mentioned you needed help with admin tasks. What tasks specifically did you need us to handle for you?

This step usually opens up the caller so you can get the information you need to properly address your client’s questions. Do it as many times as necessary to get to the root of the problem. After you ask the deeper follow-up questions, go back to step 3 and listen. Do not move into step 5 until you are confident you have the full picture of what is going on.

5. Confirm and take action to create confidence

This is simply where you confirm and repeat the details of the issue or ask, then tell the customer your action plan. This doesn’t need to be the solution but simply the next step to their answer. This goes for any type of call. Telling the customer what to expect next inspires the confidence that you are on top of it, and they will hear from you.

Next, confirm their contact info! Even if you already have it. You need to make sure it is up-to-date and current. There is nothing worse than scrambling trying to get that client’s email or phone number after the fact.

6. Always end with a “thank you!”

According to Salesforce Research, 89% of customers are willing to purchase again after one positive customer service experience. That’s why the final step of a successful professional call is to thank prospects and clients for contacting you, no matter what. 

Use their call as a chance to learn and improve, even if you’re frustrated. Never let the customer sense your frustration. It’s not worth the risk of letting them sit with a bad taste in their mouth after the call. So no matter what, end things on a positive note, especially with a “thank you!” 

Wrapping up

Sounding more professional on the phone comes down to this simple flow:

Smile → Help → Listen → Question → Confirm → Thank

If you take this approach with tone and empathy in mind, you will greatly improve the quality and results of your company’s phone calls. If you’re having trouble doing this consistently, that’s where we come in to help. Smiledog can give you a full team of professionally-trained receptionists who take this approach on each call. Phone calls are what we do, and it’s what we thrive on. Find out more about what service you think could be the best fit for your business: Virtual Reception & Appointment Scheduling