Customers will want to contact your business at a time suited to them and not your business; many of these enquiries will be through the telephone as it provokes for a direct and immediate response. Answering phone calls is essential for keeping your business afloat, however, there are ways and means to be more effective to ensure that your caller’s needs are met.

Whether a customer is calling to place an order or enquire for directions to your office, you must know how to respond to the caller’s needs in the correct manner. The right attitude leads to a positive impression, and more often than not, will influence the caller’s behaviour and actions towards your business.

Here is a ten-step guide to help you improve your telephone answering skills and impress those customers:

1. You need to answer phone calls promptly to avoid customers waiting too long; if you’re not answering your phone calls your competition will be. Although you may be engaged, you or a colleague should aim to answer each phone call as quickly as possible.

2. Politely welcome your caller with your name, your company’s name and your department; this allows for the customer to know they’ve reached the person they require fulfilling all their needs.

3. You need to carefully listen to the caller’s every word. You may find yourself repeating information or asking them to rerun their enquiry (which might test your patience) so long as you never assume that you know what they want.

4. It’s recommended that you keep a notepad on your desk to actively take notes from your calls. Also, keep a phone list handy in the event you need to transfer phone calls within your company.

5. If a caller is enquiring to speak to a specific person, whom is engaged elsewhere, it’s essential that you take the callers contact details and message. Therefore, the caller won’t need to repeat their issue or keep following up on that said phone call.

6. Make sure that if you do promise to call somebody back, that you do so promptly, as the caller might think that you haven’t relayed the message or are not interested in their custom.

7. Ensure you confirm all details necessary to avoid confusion later on. Such details may include times, names, locations and numbers.

8. When you put somebody on hold don’t leave them waiting for a long time. What seems like a few minutes to you – while you check for somebody’s availability or look up a technical detail – will be minutes you’re taking up from that callers’ day.

9. Know how to use your phone, this may sound obvious but work phones are often too complicated and full of features you’ll probably never use. You must know the basic fundamental tools for customer service: how to answer phone calls, transfer calls internally and how to put callers on hold.

10. Always concentrate on the call at hand. You need to make sure you’re not distracted or trying to do work elsewhere when you’re on the telephone.