Here are our top seven phone etiquette tips for speaking with your staffing firm clients via the phone.
1. Call at an appropriate time. This is generally accepted as between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless you’ve received a request for an outside time. Be aware of different time zones so you don’t call too early or too late. Also, ask clients the best time to call them to avoid playing phone tag.
2. Be polite. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it is surprising how many people fall into a pattern of rude behaviors, thinking they don’t matter or the client won’t notice. Answer the phone with a polite greeting, such as “Good morning. This is Joe at ABC Staffing Service. How may I help you?” as opposed to just “Hello” or “This is Joe.” Do not eat, drink or chew gum while on the phone. Never swear or use slang. And always end with a pleasantry, such as “Have a nice day.”
3. Deal with angry callers calmly. Whether you are starting your own staffing agency or have been in the industry for years, you are bound to receive an angry call or two. Listen to the caller’s problem and ask for specific details. Allow him or her to vent, and empathize with the concern. Always apologize for any inconvenience. Present several solutions and let the person choose an option. Ask if the caller is satisfied and if there’s anything else you can do before hanging up. And if you make a promise to do something, do it immediately.
4. Ask if you can put the caller on hold. If you need to transfer a call, speak to another member of your team or look up information, ask if you can put callers on hold rather than telling them. Take care of the task quickly; if the phone rings back to your desk, the caller has been on hold too long. When coming back to the phone, thank the caller for waiting.
5. Return calls as soon as possible. Whether it is a message left on your voicemail or a verbal promise, return calls promptly. Whether the client needs immediate staffing, has a problem with a temp employee or asks a billing question, the concern is immediate and affects the caller’s. Quickly returning clients’ calls tells them how quickly you will handle their business in the future and how much you value them.
6. Avoid distractions. Do not check your email, surf the Internet, text or play games on your cell phone, or update your social media while on the phone. Only speak to associates during a call if it is necessary. If you do need to speak to someone, ask if the caller can be put on hold, and make the conversation brief.
7. Create an appropriate voicemail greeting. Greetings that include jokes or that are too long are inappropriate. A short, direct message is preferred: “Hello. You have reached Carol at XYZ Staffing Service. Unfortunately, I cannot take your call right now, but if you leave me a message with your name and phone number, I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you.”