Article > Opinion

Professionalism Starts On The Phone


Look at the phone as a sales-building tool.

By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber, Auto Biz Solutions

As an auto parts professional, your job requires a considerable amount of time spent on the phone.

How do you answer the phone? How do you sound to your customer?

Are you:
•Bored—“I’ve heard the same thing from 11 people today.”
•Unenthusiastic—“I’m just hanging around until I find another job.”
•Tired—“It’s been a long day, almost time to go home.”
•Detached—“So, the part is not correct.”

Look at the phone as a sales-building tool. There are interesting statistics that show people develop a perception about you within the first 30 seconds of a phone conversation and their final opinion of you in the last 30 seconds.
Just because you cannot see the caller, doesn’t mean you have the right to suspend the normal rules of politeness. Be helpful to the caller even if the subject of the call is not your field of responsibility. This means trying to find someone who can help now, or someone who can call them back later.

Remember, too, that you give out subliminal signals by:
•The tone of your voice
•The clarity with which you speak
•How fast you speak
•The pitch of your voice

Before you pick up the phone, take a deep breath. The goal is to sound as though you like your job and you are glad they called. Project your enthusiasm!

Identify Yourself
Appropriate greetings and endings to calls help build a good rapport and avoid misunderstandings and wasted time. The three elements of an appropriate greeting are:
•Identifying your company
•Giving your name (and job title if necessary)
•Asking how you can help the caller

One tip is slow down when you answer the phone or when you call to leave a message. How many times have you played back a phone message to get the call-back number because the person was going 90 mph?

Be Sincere
People call us on the phone to have
a problem solved. They have a question and want it answered quickly, intelligently and politely. 

Listen Attentively
Put everything aside when you answer the phone (stop multi-tasking). Devote your full attention to the call — mistakes and misunderstandings will arise if you are doing something else at the same time.

Take notes
Keep a notepad by the phone. By taking notes, you can verify with the customer the important points of the conversation and the action items that need attention.

Recap the conversation
Review the facts, this way both you and the customer are on the same page and there can be no misunderstanding.

If the phone call has been successful, the first 30 seconds established a positive perception about you through voice, tone and focus. The last 30 seconds will be when the caller finalizes their opinion about you. You can make this a positive experience by thanking them for calling, reviewing the problem you were able to solve and then most importantly, thanking them for their continued business. At this point, wait for the customer to hang the phone up before you hang up. You do not want to give the impression you are being abrupt with them by hanging up first. Even if the call is a difficult or heated one, stay calm; try to be helpful and never slam the phone down.

Telephone contact is often the first connection with your business. This is the time to show the true professional you are, shine above the competition with exceptional customer service and make the customer a loyal customer.

Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop. For more information, go to or e-mail [email protected]

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