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Phone Etiquette 101


4/24/2012
By Gerald Wheelus

The emotion, enthusiasm and excitement are easily determined within the first few seconds of the conversation.
 
Gerald Wheelus
Oh no not again! Another article about phone communications? Yep, another one. This time we are going to focus on the options for how you should answer the phone, the responses you give and how you end the conversation.

All things have a beginning, middle and an end. Not all things have to end badly, however. The question is, what are your customers hearing? In the beginning, they hear, “Hello, Partz Howse.” Or maybe even, “Hello, thanks for calling GW1 Auto today. How can I help you?”

The words of the introduction are not always the most important part though, as long as it identifies the store and the name of the employee. The emotion, enthusiasm and excitement are easily determined within the first few seconds of the conversation.

What do your words say about you, your job or the day you are having? And whether or not you enjoy your job? After all, it’s your reputation and that of your employer at stake. Every day you could consider yourself on a job interview as you never know who is watching or a calling. For those of you who take your job seriously, learning phone etiquette is a great way to expand your abilities and versatility. If you are the type of employee who has pride in all you do, you may ask, “How come the customers never ask for me?” Well, does your attitude give them reason to do so?

Enough on beginnings. The meat of the phone etiquette sandwich are things that customers do not wish to hear. All our lives we hear what we should do, but many times we need to remember what not to do. Recently, Ron Burley from Inc. magazine pointed out the “Five Phrases that Customers Hate to Hear.” According to Burley, they are:

1.    That’s our policy.
2.    There’s nothing I can do.
3.    Would you mind holding for a moment.
4.    You’ll have to go to our website.
5.    That’s the manufacturer’s responsibility.

Although, a couple of these do not apply on a regular basis to the automotive aftermarket, we often use phrases similar to those that can cause uneasiness for the telephone customer. Most of us have the ability to serve up customer satisfaction anytime we need to and most anyone who is taking time to read this has the authority, whether spoken or not, to provide whatever necessary to make the customer happy. Is that not the end goal anyway?

The opportunities that present us with the unhappy customer are when we set ourselves up for success. Taking care of customers is the primary job and using the phone might be our largest tool in doing so. You have to first learn the ability and it is a discipline that all of us could use help in. If you do not believe it, you should listen to yourself on a recording. It is an ear-opening experience!

Now for the ending. The ending has to be sincere. We must convince the customer we have what they need. Not all customer calls revolve around a complaint but, they do have a problem however, or they would not need a part for their car. With that said, our best job description might be that of a counselor. Sometimes, it might be a financial counselor and sometimes a guidance counselor, and maybe a marriage counselor at times.

Either way, we have to negotiate our way through the customer’s problems and determine what is best for their needs. These are not easy tasks and the customer on the other end of that phone is likely spending money that they may or may not have on something that they wish they did not have to spend.
The only way we can truly help them is to be patient and serve them to the very best of our abilities and most importantly, let them know we truly appreciate them considering us for their business needs.














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