Do you pick up the phone with a clear purpose in mind, but you struggle to communicate clearly once you’re talking? Not only can that situation be a touch embarrassing, it is a waste of your time and a waste of time for the person on the other end. When you’re getting ready to make a call, be prepared so you can save time, energy and you can get the results you want.
Before you dial:
- Ask yourself, what is the desired result of this phone call? Making an appointment? Getting information? Follow up? Just to catch up with a friend?
- Make sure you have the tools you need in front of you like your calendar, a list of questions to ask, a pen and paper for taking notes, relevant documents like an order form or brochure.
- If you’re calling companies for estimates, make a list of who you’re calling, the date and the result (left message, waiting on a return call, if you set an appointment) so you have a record and don’t get confused about who you already talked to and when. Notate who you spoke with.
- Make sure you have enough time so you are not rushed.
- Minimize distractions — turn off the computer, the TV, shut the door, etc. People deserve your attention and you’ll be more focused and a better listener.
- Take a deep breath to calm and collect yourself, especially if this call might be challenging.
For those difficult calls, here are a few tips to help your get what you want or need in the most painless way possible:
- Be kind, respectful and calm. You know the saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar, right? It’s very true.
- Use the person’s name, say hello and introduce yourself. Tell them why you are calling and that you are asking for help.
- Share only the relevant information that illustrates your need and the result you’re looking for. The person on the other end of the line does not need to hear your life story, the entire process and every related detail. Trust me, from many years in retail, it is very distracting when you’re wondering which information is important and relevant. Get to the point quickly and clearly.
- If you are upset about a situation, say that you’re frustrated, but you are doing your best to remain calm to have a reasoned and rational conversation. If you can’t stay calm, make the call another time. Remember, it is very unlikely that the person you’re talking to had anything to do with the problem.
- Be honest. If you made a mistake, own up to it. If you know you are asking for special consideration, mention that. Be humble, don’t act entitled and don’t expect results that are out of the ordinary. However, if you don’t ever ask, you’ll never know.
- Know before you call that you may not get what you want and you may have to take responsibility for that.
- If you are unhappy with the result, do not take it out on the person on the other end of the line. Thank them for their help and ask where you can send a letter or an email. In that letter, you can say their customer service agent was great, you understand why they have policies in place, but can anything else be done on your or their part? Or, make a suggestion on how this could have been handled to better suit your situation.
Making phone calls gets things done and often the hardest part is picking up the phone. Being prepared and having a plan in place to effectively execute your phone calls will save you stress, time and energy and make you more productive.