Just because you reckon you could talk the hind legs off a donkey, doesn’t make you a strong professional communicator on the phone.

If you work in an office setting and use the telephone to chat to customers, (yes – we also wish you could just use emojis) then you ought to run through these 11 phone no-no’s.

1. “How are you?”

“How are you?” “Good.” [Awkward pause.] “And you?” “Yeah – good too.” “That’s good.” [Awkward pause #2.]

You don’t really care how the customer is doing and, to be frank, the sentiment is mutual. Don’t waste your customer’s time by enquiring absent-mindedly as to their wellbeing. Cut straight to the point!

2. “Mate!”

Customers are not your mates. Here in Australia, we assume the word ‘mate’ does to conversation what tomato sauce does to food – makes it all better! But in actual fact, it’s unprofessional and is likely to confound rather than amuse your customer.

3. Crutch Words

“There are, like, four different sizes, and each size is available in, like, a million different colours…”

“Like” is a crutch word and crutch words just have no place in conversation. “Like”,
and its over- and inappropriately used crutch-cousins, come off as unpolished and a little juvenile. Cut it out and your phone etiquette will improve like crazy.

4. “No.”

Customers do not want to hear the word “no”. So just don’t say it. No is a no. If the answer to a customer’s question is a negative, then offer an alternative.

“Do you deliver on Saturdays?” “We only deliver on business days, Monday to Friday.”

5. “… Or”

“Would you like to leave a message for Mr Kanitee, or…”

Or what? Or win a million dollars? Have dinner with Beyonce? Using the ‘hanging or’ might seem like an easy way out but the customer on the other end of the phone will be waiting to hear what you’re offering. And then you’ll both have egg on your face – and all over the phone.

6. “Are you there?”

Placing someone on hold is often necessary in a business. When you come to pick up the phone again, don’t re-open the conversation by asking if they are there. The only answer they can give is: “Yes!” Just address them by name. If they actually aren’t there, you risk being embarrassed in front of all zero of the other people listening to your phone call.

7. “I’m sorry!”

Customers aren’t really interested in how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling sorry about something, keep it to yourself. If you’re interested in offering an apology to a customer, then ask them to accept your apology. That way they remain the focus of the conversation and don’t have to unwittingly act as your therapist.

8. Jargon

Listening to someone spout jargon is as impressive as the Guinness World Record for the most milkshake dispensed through the nose. (And equally as confusing – why waste perfectly good milkshake?) Only use words and phrases the customer is going to understand. If you pepper your words with jargon, they’re going to sneeze on the deal.

9. “Hang on.”

“Oh you want Bob Bobbson. Hang on… BOB!”

If you’re going to place someone on hold, don’t tell them to hang on – it’s not a roller coaster. Ask them if they mind being placed on hold while you transfer them or locate the information they’re looking for.

10. “Don’t worry.”

Either the customer is or isn’t worried. In either case just don’t say it. Why?
Option A: The customer is worried and telling him not to worry is condescending and dismissive.
Option B: The customer isn’t worried and is now wondering why on Earth you thought he/she was!

11. “That wasn’t my/our fault…”

Ever since an apple hit Sir Isaac Newton on the head (and probably before it), we’ve known that sometimes things just fall down. Mistakes are going to be made and you’ll occasionally find yourself dealing with someone else’s mistake. But guess what? The customer doesn’t care that it wasn’t you who incorrectly told him that teal blue paint and sky blue paint are actually the same thing. The customer is upset and it’s your job to fix it. Drop the excuses, roll up your sleeves and knock the socks off the customer.

Find these tips and tricks useful? Take your phone skills up to 11 with Canity online business training!