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The Final Word by Helen Roush
Learning proper business telephone etiquette is one of the basic skills in any business. Telephone calls are part of everyday work. The telephone is a necessary tool, which is usually the first point of contact with customers. It can either make or break a business transaction. Telephone etiquette is one way of improving communication skills.

Have you ever stopped to consider if your use of the telephone is effective as it could be?

Have you ever called a business and the person answering was rude, had poor customer service skills, or the wrong attitude? The difference between a negative and positive experience, however, depends on how you handle the situation.

Have you stopped to consider how people on the other end of the telephone perceive you by your attitude or tone? Remember that you are a representative of your company and become the face of your company for the person on the other end of the line. How you handle the call will make either a so-so, good or poor impression.

First impressions count and it all begins with how we answer the telephone.  A professional greeting should always be used when answering the telephone. Thank customers for calling you. You should always maintain a friendly and pleasant manner.

You should pay attention to your tone, and try not to sound bored, dry or monotone. You should add a smile to your voice, which will make you sound happy and upbeat, excited to speak with the person on the other end of the line. The person you are speaking with should feel as though they are important and it is your job to accomplish that.

Enunciation is also important. Avoid using slang and words such as “yeah,” “uh-huh,” etc.

Outgoing calls are just as important as incoming calls. You should focus on providing a positive and professional impression on those you call. Be sure to introduce yourself and your company. Again, remember that you are an ambassador for your company.

Do not forget to return a call, if you promised that you would.

Never interrupt the person while he/she is talking. This is not only rude, but it also gives the impression that you do not think what the other person is saying is important.

Do not engage the person on the other end in an argument. This will only end in a disaster.

Do not give the impression that you are rushed or that you do not have time to communicate with the person on the other end of the line.

If you have to leave a message, be sure to speak clearly, talk slowly and try to sound pleasant.

In our day-to-day operations, communication is obviously important, but we sometimes get so busy that we lose focus on how important it really is.

Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Helen Roush is Vice President, Communications Sciences at Paperitalo Publications. She can be reached by email at helen.roush@taii.com.

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