Imagine yourself in the following situation: you are at Starbucks waiting for your morning latte to be brewed when your telephone rings. It’s your answering service. They have a caller on the line who is interested in learning more about the services you offer and they are would like to know if you want to take the call. Before you enthusiastically scream “YES” into the receiver, it is important that you consider whether now is the right time to take the call. After all, 93% of all business relationships begin over the telephone and you want to make sure that you make an incredibly positive impression.
Here are 4 things to consider before taking a call from your answering service:
Are you in the right environment to be taking the call? Loud places like coffee shops or busy street corners are generally not good areas to take a business call. The best environment for professional phone taking is any place that is quiet and where you are comfortable. If that environment is close by, you can go to that place and take the call when you’re there (keep in mind that the caller is on hold during this time), or ask the answering service to ask the caller if they can take a message or schedule a time for a call back.
Let’s say that you are in a meeting with an important client or referral source. It does not make a good impression on the person you are meeting if you interrupt your meeting to take another call. The best thing to do would allow the answering service to text you a message and/or set up an appointment in your calendar for you to call return the call when you are available. Don’t let the telephone run your calendar but make your calendar part of your call handling strategy.
Reliability of your phone line
It is always better to receive calls on a landline as they are more reliable than cell phones with regards to quality of phone service. However, most people use cell phones these days and if you are in an area in which you have unreliable or terrible service, it’s best to let the call go to voicemail and try to call the answering service from a landline. If you do not have access to a landline or your reception is so bad that your cell phone doesn’t even ring, instruct the answering service to schedule time for a call back and take a message for you.
Are you in a good position to take a phone call? Remember: this is your first impression and you want to make sure you make it great. If you are not in a position to take the call (i.e. you just got out of the shower, you just woke up, you need to pull up an intake form and notepaper in order to be prepared for the telephone call), it’s best to tell the answering service to ask the caller when a good time would be to call the prospect back or to suggest a time that is good for you, even if you suggest 5 minutes from then. Then you can prepare for the phone call and handle it like a pro!
Keep in mind, the above mentioned tips are for those calls that can wait. If the caller has an emergency, then you should absolutely take the call and make sure the situation is handled expeditiously. Otherwise, if you are not in a good position to take a call and handle it professionally, you are better off letting the answering service take a message and/or schedule a time in your calendar for you to call the person back. Most people will wait to speak with you if they know to expect your call.