When using the telephone for business, using this communication tool EFFECTIVELY means being timely, communicating clearly and having the other person’s interest in mind.
WHEN TO USE THE PHONE
Plan and schedule your telephone calls so that you can allow time for OFF-TRACK discussions. If you plan a 10:30 a.m. telephone call “schedule” it like you might schedule a face to face meeting: a little EXTRA time, particularly for those you know like to talk!
SET SOME BOUNDARIES
At the beginning of your call, mention you know you can cover the points needed within time enough for you to make your next APPOINTMENT, at a stated time. Then as you want to WIND up the conversation you can backtrack to restate the appointment you mentioned. Or, you may find that someone will remind you, “Oh, you have to get on to that appointment, right?”
Maybe you prefer to wait until you are into the conversation before needing to ask for an EXIT. As you near time to say goodbye and find it difficult to end, try saying, "Oh my gosh, I have a long distance call I need to take. Can you hold while I take it?" Your customer or friend will likely say the conversation can pick up later. And, once again, it is the other person who ENDS the call.
LEAVING A MESSAGE
If you have to leave a voice mail, certain ELEMENTS are important to include: your name, when you are calling, a brief message about your purpose, and a telephone number to return the call to you. If you work in a staffed office and there’s another extension of someone as an alternate contact, leave his or her name and extension as well. This last point is being considerate of the other person’s time and offering them another OPTION when calling back.
MAKE SURE THEY GET IT RIGHT
When leaving a voice mail make it easy for the person who is taking and likely writing down this information. First, you can say the number SLOWLY by area code, exchange and last digits. For example, say it just as you might write it in the United States: 777-555-1234. Alternately, or even in addition to the divided method, you can REPEAT your telephone number a second time. Or, you can combine both methods!
YOUR OWN VOICE MAIL
Your OUTGOING message is as important to etiquette as the message you leave when you are the caller. For business protocol it’s wise to identify yourself by name. State for the caller to leave their name, telephone number and a brief message. If you include the DATE, “Monday, February 21st,” in your outgoing message, be certain you change it everyday. If you ever have anyone run out of time with leaving his or her message, you may also want to include, “and you have 30 seconds (or whatever time) for your brief message.”
The cliché that “time is money,” is particularly true for the working person. That we all have the same amount of time is true for everyone. Return your telephone calls on a TIMELY basis, within 24 hours is professional and considerate in either a business or personal setting.
Patricia Weber is a coach, certified telelcass leader, and corporate trainer. With her incisive, effective communication skills, her services can help you to accelerate professional and personal results you want, by helping you increase your choices and build your self-confidence. With personal coaching, a teleclass, an online email course or on-site workshop, get what you want, more easily and more often. Visit her website at www.prostrategies.com.
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