With many young people suffering from telephobia – fearing and avoiding talking on the phone – Moneypenny has put together some top tips to help improve phone communications, that will be especially useful for those entering the workplace for the first time, where they will be expected to have actual conversations rather than texting or messaging.

A  Moneypenny survey of 300 micro-businesses showed that a curt ‘Hello’, used by 26% of small businesses when answering their phone calls, is seen by most as ‘unprofessional’, ‘off-putting’ and even ‘rude’, proving there is more to the art of telephone talking than meets the eye.  Furthermore, at a recent Moneypenny webinar, Eliza Filby, generations expert and historian of contemporary values, shared an example of a legal firm that had to introduce telephone etiquette classes for Gen Z employees who didn’t know how to talk on a phone.

Moneypenny has spent decades providing receptionist and PA services to thousands of businesses across multiple business sectors, from estate agents to plumbers and large corporations too, and its highly skilled staff have perfected the art of being friendly yet efficient on the phone.  Carrie Pickett, Operations Manager at Moneypenny has spent several years studying the most effective way to answer and handle business calls and is responsible for training the 850 Moneypenny PAs who handle thousands of business calls every day. Here are her top phone etiquette tips:

Be a ‘GOFI’  God/ Goddess of  First Impressions.  When you answer the phone the person calling will build an instant impression of you.  You want to come across as enthusiastic, helpful and efficient, not rude, bored and grumpy, so move beyond a curt ‘hello’.

Say it with a smile and ensure your tone mirrors your greeting.  If you are physically smiling then this will naturally be translated into an upbeat voice.  It’s a classic, but there is a warmth and energy you only get with a smile. It also sharpens your speech so your words are clearer to the caller.

Be chirpy but not too chatty.  Business people want to get to the point quickly. You’ve probably got less than six seconds to deal with a caller’s enquiry. It’s friendly to have a line or two of general conversation, but don’t spend several minutes on pleasantries.

Verbally nod! Commit to the words you are saying to make sure you come across as positive and decisive rather than vague or distracted.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, its fine to admit this, but quickly suggest you can find the required information and come back to the caller as soon as possible.  Give a time frame for this; don’t leave it hanging.

Focus on what you can do and not what you cannot.  If you’re busy and can’t go into detail with your caller there and then, take their details and tell them you’ll call back.

Be efficient and reassuring. There is no script and one size does not fit all.  Don’t rely on stock phrases or replies. The caller needs to have confidence that you are really listening to them and taking their call seriously, rather than mechanically going through the motions.

Think of each caller as your million pound customer. How would you speak to them if they wanted to spend £1million with you? That’s how you should greet everyone when you answer the phone. Impress the caller to the point that they can’t wait to work with you.

Joanna Swash, Group CEO commented: “The importance of phone conversations in the workplace should never be under-estimated as it’s often the first valuable impression of a company, so it’s vital to make the first contact friendly, warm and efficient.  Young people conduct a large percentage of their conversations virtually, through texting or messaging, with short and snappy exchanges, so it’s natural that they may need to learn the skills to have actual conversations and business leaders need to address this and train and develop their young workforce to deliver excellent communications.”

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.