21 ways to make your phone calls more professional - advice for CA students
With the advent of emails, fewer and fewer professional interactions happen over the phone. As a result, many people lack experience and confidence when it comes to making a phone call at work.
However, a phone call is often the quickest and most straightforward way of dealing with an issue then and there and getting the job done.
Here some of the ICAS lecturers share their top tips for making successful phone calls.
Understand who you're talking to, what you want from the call, what you want to say and what the likely response will be, including questions
Tim Burrows said: “Prepare. Understand who you're talking to, what you want from the call, what you want to say and what the likely response will be, including questions.
“Listen. You are usually talking to a client. Their views are important so you need to demonstrate that you feel this.
“Finally, you must pledge action where you can, agree on a way forward with the caller – and deliver on this.”
And if you want to feel in control you can always make the call standing up
Chris Cunnane said: “Work out in advance what you want to get out of the call and jot down some notes to keep you on track.
“Towards the end, sum up the call and agree on any action points. Promptly follow up on any action points that you have agreed to take responsibility for.
“It always helps to smile when you are speaking as this will come through in your voice. And if you want to feel in control you can always make the call standing up.”
Always be polite, even if you have a difficult situation coming off as combative or angry makes the situation worse
Matt Gorrie said: “Remember when is convenient for you might not be convenient for them. Try and arrange a suitable time in advance, if this is not possible always ask them at the start of the call if this is a convenient time.
“Always introduce yourself, where you’re calling from and (briefly) the reason for the call.
“The point of the call should be a resolution of some point, whether that’s getting information, an action or giving them information. Try and keep to your point and ensure that you don’t go “off track”.
“Always be polite, even if you have a difficult situation coming off as combative or angry makes the situation worse. Try to be calm and polite even though this may be difficult. If the other person is being difficult or angry try and use calm phrases like “how can I help you with that” or “what we can do to sort this situation”.
“Always thank the other person for their time and say goodbye.”
In an office where you’re expected to pick up other people’s phones, actually do it
Jennifer Cloke said: “Spend a few minutes before the call collecting everything you need, including your thoughts. If you feel calm going into the call and can quickly answer questions from the person on the other end it’ll go much more smoothly.
“Don’t panic if a client asks you something you don’t know – say you’ll double check and get the information through to them (and then do it as soon as you can).
“If you don’t like other people listening to you on the phone, go and find a quiet room to make the call in. You won’t always be able to but it will help you become more confident with the first few calls.
“In an office where you’re expected to pick up other people’s phones, actually do it. It’s never going to be as scary as it seems – most of the time you’ll just need to take a message and you’ll look pro-active for having gone to the effort.
“Remember that it’s much easier to develop a relationship with someone, whether a client or a colleague if you speak to them rather than emailing.
“You’re also more likely to get an answer out of someone who’s busy and has hundreds of emails in their inbox if you call them – they can’t ignore you so easily if you’re on the other end of the phone.”
If you’re on a conference call, don’t forget to press mute if you’re not speaking – no one wants to hear your heavy breathing
Susan Harris said: “Don’t use slang or acronyms and don’t talk too fast. If you’re on a conference call, don’t forget to press mute if you’re not speaking – no one wants to hear your heavy breathing.”
Duncan McKellar said: “Ensure you have all the technical information you may need to hand before calling. And always have a pen and paper available.
“Keep notes of topics discussed and, if professional advice is given, follow it up with written confirmation of your understanding of the situation by email or letter.
“Think about background noise in your office or the need for privacy.”