TALKING on phones has become quite alien to a significant proportion of the population who prefer to use their mobiles to text, play games or go on social media.
However, the phone remains an important tool for companies but – unlike many other areas of business life – we rarely learn how to speak on the phone in the course of our work.
For example, do we use “Hi” or “Hello” as a greeting? With strangers, do we immediately resort to a first name or go for Mr or Mrs (Miss sounds archaic in 2018)?
Many people still find it difficult to talk comfortably on the phone, unless they’ve been trained as many companies cold-calling do. Then, unfortunately, sometimes it sounds like a script and is non-engaging.
How do we finish our conversation? “Bye now” seems reasonable or the full “goodbye” although that can sound like you’re just about to kill yourself so care needs taking with the tone.
What I suppose we don’t tend to acknowledge is that, like our uniformity in everything from advertising to business cards to how we look, our phone manner is as much part of our branding as everything else.
It needs attention and consideration and it needs practice. I’ve never thought “Hiya” an appropriate greeting from anyone over the age of 13 and definitely not on a business call. It’s just too informal and not professional.
Developing an easy way of chatting that remains engaging takes time and genuine effort, just as listening to the other end of that conversation does. The second biggest complaint about cold-callers in my book (that’s after them calling at inconvenient times) is that you have to shoe-horn your way into the conversation because they’re going at 100 mph and will not be stopped.
That way, you just stop listening.