When the former Bell System published manuals on how to use its PBX equipment, it included many tips on how to provide excellent service to callers. Many of those tips are still just as valuable today, despite all of the automation.
Below is a compilation of some Bell System tips from various PBX manuals.
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Every day more and more business is conducted by telephone. It's a fast, economical way of doing business.
On the next few pages are some suggestions to help you and your extension users make telephone contacts work successfully for your company.
Many people deal with your firm by telephone and their opinion of the firm is largely influenced by the quality of telephone service they receive. As a P.B.X. attendant you have an unusual opportunity to assist in maintaining good business relations with customers.
If you exhibit in your work promptness, courtesy, attention, a willingness to serve and a desire to please you will contribute materially in furthering the good will and business of your firm.
In telephone contacts the advantages of face to face discussion, appearance, facial expression, etc., are missing and the lack of these must be compensated by correct and best use of the voice. Attention to the following simple principles of good voice usage will prove beneficial both in the matter of public good will and efficient operation.
PERSONAL INTEREST: A pleasing tone conveyingt he impression of a sincere desire to be of assistance and to give satisfaction on every call or request.
CLEAR ENUCIATION: Will avoid the annoyance of errors, repetition and delays.
PROPER EMPHASIS: Will also assist in the avoidance of repetitions, errors and delays, particularly in respect to the pronunciation of numbers.
QUIET TONE: Will avoid nerve strain, irritation and disturbance to others.
Suggestions to assist in meeting the above four qualifications for proper telephone voice usage are:
. Be polite and courteous at all times.
. Adopt an alert and business-like manner of speaking.
. Articulate clearly, giving full value and proper spacing to each sound.
. Speak at a moderate speed, not too fast, but there is no value in excessive slowness.
. If you speak clearly and properly with your lips not more than two inches from the transmitter, you do not need to make the effort of speaking loudly.
Incoming Calls--Answer Promptly Callers don't like to be kept waiting. A prompt answer after the first ring will help to build a reputation of courteous efficiency for your firm.
Answer incoming calls with your firm name or telephone number as, for instance "Smith-Jones and Co." Long names may, of course, be abbreviated by leaving out initials or business designation. Care should be taken, however, to choose an answering phrase that will not be misunderstood or mistaken for the answer of any other well-known firm in your locality. During certain hours, where desired, a courteous touch may be added by using a phrase such as the following:
"Smith-Jones and Co. Good Morning!"
The use of "good morning" should not be continued for more than an hour or an hour and a half after the opening of business, unless your firm is one which does not often receive repeat calls from the same individuals at short intervals.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE ORDER RECEIVED Listen closely to the order and repeat any part of it which you are not sure you understand. If you repeat, listen for a possible correction.
If you understand the order correctly without repetition, acknowledge with "Thank you". However, except that if you know the desired extension is busy or that the desired party is not available, you may report to the calling party immediately without pausing to acknowledge the order.
If it was necessary to repeat a portion of your order and if the calling party corrected this repetition, acknowledge with, "Thank you".
If more details are required to establish the connection which is desired, question the calling party as may be necessary, using a phrase such as the following:
"Is that Mr. J. F. Brown or Mr. W. G. Brown?" "Is that the Mr. Brown in the Shipping Department?" "Do you wish price information or is it to inquire about a shipment?"
If the order was indefinite and it is necessary for you to determine which department is required, tell the calling party or operator as you establish connection, the individual or department to whom he will be connected. Say, for instance, "I will give you the Credit Department," or "Mr. J. F. Brown takes care of that, I will connect you with him."
PROGRESS REPORTS On calls which are delayed due to a busy or a slow answer condition, it is most important to give progress reports to the calling party at frequent intervals. The reports are required not only as an act of courtesy but also to encourage waiting long enough to provide ample opportunity for the called party to answer. Progress reports furthermore enable the calling party or operator to change the order in the event that it would be better to talk to someone else. Failure to give progress reports may cause abandonment of calls with accompanying dissatisfaction to your customers and loss of business to your company.
If the called local is still busy or no answer has been received after a prolonged period as, for instance, two minutes, give a further progress report and add "Will you talk with anyone else?" If, however, you are in a position to suggest the name of some one else who could handle the call, you may vary this phrase in order to suggest the proper person or department. If the calling party accepts this offer, it will generally be advisable for you to explain the circumstances of the call to the other person answering before establishing connection. To do this, ring the other individual with an idle line and when he answers, say, for instance, "I have a call for Mr. Smith which I could not complete. Will you take it?" Unless he gives you other instructions, establish the connection, using the line with which you originally answered the incoming call.
If the calling party is unwilling to have his call transferred to anyone else, offer to take a message, saying, for example, "If you will give me your name and telephone number, I will tell Mr. Smith you called." Record any information furnished as a result of this offer and use whatever method is lo cally available for bringing it promptly to the attention of the desired individual.
Be Friendly If it's necessary to leave the line, ask permission - the caller may prefer to call back. Before leaving the line you might say: "Would you mind waiting while I look up that information?"
Identify Yourself Make it easier for the caller by answering with a name or department. For example: "Mr. Johnson" or "Service Department, Johnson speaking." When answering someone else's phone, it's a businesslike courtesy to use that person's name as well as your own. For example: "Mr. Roberts' office, Mr. Johnson."
How to Transfer Calls Explain why the call is to be transferred. Be sure the caller is willing--perhaps he'd rather be called back. Know your system's call-transfer procedure. If using your attendant, be sure the attendant is given complete information to avoid asking the calling party to repeat. Wait for the attendant to acknowledge instructions.
Be Tactful With Questions When answering someone else's telephone, your extension users will build good will by using phrases like: "May I tell him who's calling?" or "If you'll leave your name and telephone number, I'll have him call you when he returns." An abrupt "Who's calling?" often implies that the called party will talk only to certain people.
Complete Message Memos Messages should be complete and legible; showing names of persons called and calling, date and time, and caller's number if he wants to be called back.
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