This post is part two in a two-part series. Read part one here. 

No matter how advanced our technology or how efficient the tools we use, service usually starts with a direct, human connection that cannot be replaced or duplicated.  And more often than not, this connection comes from a phone call or several phone calls.

While many businesses know just how important a customer service tool their phone is, they are, unfortunately, still making many of these common telephone-related mistakes.

  1. Asking “What is this in reference to?” Although your answering service or receptionist should screen important calls, there’s a better way to do it than with this question. Your telephone answering person should ask about the callers’ needs, who they need to speak with or how they can help. It’s much more polite and effective.
  1. Misusing the “hold” button. It’s common courtesy for receptionists to ask to place a caller on hold before they do so. Make sure anyone that is answering your phone is asking. It may seem like a simple question and one that everyone is likely to say “yes” to, but it’s still essential.
  1. Using speaker phone without asking. The same goes for using the speaker phone button. People don’t like to suddenly be on speakerphone. Anyone who answers phones for your small business should ask before placing a caller on speakerphone – and very few people will say “no.”
  1. Responding to call waiting or another ringing phone. Having call waiting on a business line isn’t an excuse to put callers on hold. Ideally, your call waiting system should display the incoming caller’s number so you and your staff can tell whether it’s a call worth holding for. Consider having more receptionists answering the phone during peak hours to avoid the need to switch to call waiting or to grab another line.
  1. Having no plan or script for dissatisfied customers. At some point in time, every business gets dissatisfied customers on the phone. It’s in these moments where a business’s customer service practices are really put to the test. Handling these customers quickly and to their satisfaction is key – so you and your employees shouldn’t handle things on the fly. Having documented process for customer problems can help you and your staff respond to issues with professionalism and high quality customer care. Working with an answering service can help in this respect too; most professional answering services will want you to provide them with FAQ sheets and documentation so their receptionists can handle issues.

Don’t make these small business phone mistakes! By working with an answering service and training your staff you can make sure that your business is putting the best foot forward.