When speaking on the phone is the way you put money in the bank it’s important to be good at it. This requires a balance of many skills including friendliness, patience, empathy, and knowledge of your industry, and these skills can all be amplified by one important thing: professionalism. Or rather, they can all be undermined by lack of professionalism. That’s right, it’s that important to sound professional over the phone.
Professionalism over the phone isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. We’re living in a strange time when many people would prefer to text or email than actually speak on the phone, so developing good phone speaking skills is becoming more difficult. The good news is, that just as you would build muscles with exercise, you can build your phone professionalism. All it takes is an awareness and a little bit of intentional work.
Here are 5 ways to sound more professional on the phone.
1. Slow down and enunciate
You knew this would make the list, didn’t you? It’s always difficult to understand when someone mumbles in an in-person conversation, but when you remove the visual aid of the person’s body language or facial expressions, it can be downright impossible to understand what they’re saying. That means it’s even more important to fully pronounce your words when you are speaking on the phone. Slowing down your natural conversational pace can be helpful also, even if it does feel slightly unnatural. You’re giving the person on the other end of the line the space to hear and process the words you are saying.
2. Make sure you know what you’re saying
And while we’re on the topic of the words you’re saying, make sure you know for certain the meanings of the words or phrases you’re using. For example, there is no such thing as a “photographic” memory and you probably mean “for all intense and purposes” rather than the commonly-said “for all intensive purposes.” And don’t even get us started on words that aren’t actually real words like “irregardless” (you probably mean “regardless”) or “supposably” (the word you’re looking for is supposeDly). Do NOT add big, fancy words to try to sound more intelligent if you’re not completely sure you know their meaning. If you happen to get it wrong, you’ll sabotage your credibility.
3. Prepare for commonly asked questions
When you work in a call center, there will be several standard questions that come up frequently. Don’t get caught off guard by these questions, prepare for them! Make sure you know the correct answers (check with your supervisors if necessary), and then prepare a response. Write it out, if you need to. Don’t think of it as a fake or canned response, think of it as being prepared and serving the customers to the fullest of your ability. Once you’re completely comfortable with the knowledge required of you, you’ll feel freer to speak off the cuff.
4. Use common courtesy
Always start and end the call with a cordial greeting and sign off, using their name and your own. A good example of this is “Hello (customer name), this is (your name). How can I help you today?” You can end the call by saying “Thank you for your call, (customer name). It has been a pleasure serving you.” These personal touches go a long way to add warmth and personality to your conversation.
Yes, even though they can’t see you! When you smile, it brightens the sound of your voice and can even make you feel more cheerful.