The Small Business Guide to Phone Etiquette

Owning a business is not easy, no one is disputing that. It takes a lot of effort and, most importantly, time. This is why it’s understandable that even the most seemingly basic of things can slip at times, such as answering the phone in a timely and professional manner.

In order to combat this and to make sure our clients are making the most of the leads that AdWords and Bing are sending to them, we put together this handy little guide for small business owners to take the pain out of picking up the phone.

1 – Pick up the phone

This one may seem obvious but you’d be surprised at the number of phone calls that businesses miss, for a whole host of different and unusual reasons.

We’ve all been guilty of it, but it can’t be said enough how important it is to actually pick up the phone. Once you factor in the likelihood of repeat custom and the lifetime value of a customer, generating new business should be one of your core focuses.

In the fast-moving and competitive world of SMEs, missing phone calls is unforgivable. If you are in the business of lead generation and potential customers are trying to get in touch with you over the phone then you NEED to be picking it up.

2 – The three ring rule

The quicker you pick up the phone the better. As a benchmark, you should be picking up the phone within three rings or faster.

Lead generation is all about removing the obstacles between your customer and what you want them to buy from you. Why make the customer wait for longer than they have to?

Try to think about it from a customer’s perspective: if they call a business and the call is answered quickly and efficiently, it will set the right impression from the start.

3 – Employ a professional phone manner

There is a common statistic that gets bounded about the outbound-calling world, and that is that people form an opinion of you within the first 10 seconds of speaking with you.

This is why it is vital that you reflect your business in a positive light. This means no rude jokes and no swearing (unless that is the business impression you are going for).

More importantly, if your staff are answering the phone, you need to be monitoring this to make sure that they are reflecting your business in the way you want. Call tracking and recording software like Ruler Analytics is a really good way to keep tabs on phone manner.

4 – Chase ALL leads

If someone calls your business line, they have called you for a reason. Granted, there may be a fair share of time wasters but you have to sift through the dirt to get the gold.

As mentioned before, every lead is potentially valuable because you never know how much referral work or repeat custom it may lead to. It could be the difference between a good financial quarter and a bad one.

Chasing up leads can feel like a separate job entirely, but small business owners have to wear lots of different hats and there is no real way around this one I’m afraid. Make sure you are calling back every number you have missed.

5 – Delegate responsibility

Ultimately, some people just are not cut out to deal with potential customers over the phone for whatever reason. There is always going to be a sales element to any kind of business-focused interaction with customers and some people are just not natural salespeople.

It may be worth evaluating yourself and your business, delegating phone responsibility to someone better equipped to sell rather than attempting to push water uphill. Your business could depend upon it.

6 – Record an acceptable voicemail

If someone has left a voicemail on your phone line, there’s a strong likelihood that they are really interested in the service you offer or the product you sell. So, if you really can’t get to the phone, it’s vital that you don’t put them off with a poor voicemail message.

Make sure your message lets the customer know that you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, and there’s a legitimate reason for you to have missed their call. Let them now that they’re in safe hands.

7 – Make the most of smartphones – your clients are!

Smartphones are designed to make modern life easier. If you are not using your smartphone’s functionality to its full capacity, then you are really missing out.

If you have a contact form on your website that links to your email address, why not set up push notifications for when you receive an email to your business email address? This means you can act fast to chase leads while they are still hot.

8 – Keep track of it

Sometimes small business owners don’t have the time to take on call tracking and analysing, whether they are experienced with it or not. That’s exactly why our clients have the option of having Ruler Analytics installed and monitored for them.

Ruler Analytics is a fantastic marketing tool for small businesses, facilitating call tracking and recording as well as marketing attribution for forms, calls, live chat & e-commerce.