If you own a business, you surely will have to handle telephone calls frequently. The way you sound when someone talks to you over the phone can make all the difference. Research shows that a pleasant sounding voice on the other end of the telephone line can help initiate sales-related conversations, whereas, an unpleasant voice or sound can deter a sale. While not everyone is blessed with the voice of Billie Holiday, there are some helpful techniques to ensure that you sound excellent when someone calls you up. Whether you are a call center employee, a business owner, or a receptionist, you can always learn how to improve the way you sound over the phone, and that comes with myriad benefits. Here are some of our tips:
1. Use the right technology
Poor sound quality can destroy a phone call in seconds. Often times any interference in sound is due to hardware and accessories dysfunction, low quality, or poor connections to your computer or other devices. Make sure everything is plugged in the right places, check for the sound quality by making test calls, and replace your old hardware periodically, so that your voice is crystal clear. Sometimes, you may even have to make sure that all your software programs are updated, especially if you are using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.
2. Position your mouthpiece
If you do not place your mouthpieces (whether a smartphone or a mic) at the correct angle and distance from your mouth, you may either sound like the mic is in your mouth, or you may be barely audible. Make sure that you position your mouthpiece correctly, and run a few test calls and ask your colleagues or employees how you sound. Do this every day until you get the distance and position right, specific to the device you are using.
3. Keep water handy
If your throat goes dry, you will sound hoarse or tired. It is important to keep your hydrated always, especially if you handle a number of calls. Make sure that you drink enough water, eat healthy, and take every step to keep yourself energized and hydrated. The person on the other end of the telephone call will know if you are thirsty, and it does not sound as cute as you may think. Make sure that you are hydrated so that your customer gets to hear you in your best form.
4. Smile when you speak
It is said that a customer can sense whether you are smiling or grimacing, when you receive a call. Even if you are not in the mood to smile, relax your facial muscles, and smile so that your voice appears cheerful. After all, when you smile, the sound escapes from your voice box in a different manner than when your facial muscles are contracted. Relaxed facial muscles are known to change the quality of your voice, and this can be recognized by people even without seeing your face.
5. Take rests in between calls
Getting enough rest is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you sound cheerful on the phone. When you are physically and emotionally tired, you will not sound cheerful. Instead, your voice sounds dull, lethargic, and possibly even annoyed. These negative feelings are transferred to the customer or the caller, who can become distracted by your tone. If you wish to sound great on the phone, you should start getting enough rest in between calls you make and receive. A well-rested person will naturally sound cheerful and friendly, without much effort.
6. Pronounce words clearly and correctly
Your next step to sounding great over the phone is to pay attention to the way you pronounce words, especially the ones you use frequently. No matter which part of the world you are from, pronouncing English words the way they are supposed to makes a huge difference in being comprehensible to your customer. Grab Daniel Jones’ Pronunciation Dictionary and keep it at your desk all the time. The book teaches you how to pronounce every word in both American and British accents, while also providing information about various other available pronunciations.
7. Don't be in a hurry
If you sound like you are in a hurry, your caller can tell. You may be interpreted as impatient and distracted. No one wants to speak to a sales executive or a customer care agent who is impatient. Make sure that you speak slowly, and that your rate of speech isn’t too fast. This doesn’t mean you have to read out each word as if you were dictating to someone. All you need to do is to ensure that you speak calmly, and without being in a hurry. Try taking three deep breaths before you answer the phone. This ensures that your rate of speech is normal, and that you sound pleasant and friendly.
8. Listen carefully and repeat back what you hear
If you want to sound great over a telephone call, you need to make sure that you are listening to the other person. Listen closely and repeat back to the caller their main points or concerns. This is an important rule that every virtual receptionist or call center agent follows. You should also allow the person to complete their sentences, and never interrupt them when they are speaking. If you feel you have something to say that you might forget after a minute, keep a notepad and a pen ready. Sometimes, old fashioned tips and tricks come in handy even in these postmodern times.
9. Be organized
Keep all your files and folders well organized and make sure that your workstation is clean and clutter-free. When someone calls you up, you shouldn’t have to start searching for a document, a folder or a file. Everything should be easily accessible and you shouldn’t be left searching for something either on the telephone or at your desk. If you must look for something, consider placing the caller on a brief hold rather than speak as you are rummaging around. In fact, a good virtual receptionist knows that being organized can reduce the duration of a caller being kept on hold.
10. Be confident
When you speak confidently, it completely changes your tone of voice. It shows that you are competent, well-organized and a good communicator. If you are selling something, a lack of confidence in your tone can imply a lack of confidence in your product. Confidence is a skill that can be practiced, and even performed. If you are not a self-assured person, pretend that you are, and you slowly start becoming more confident overall. A good virtual receptionist is not someone who is always fearless, but someone who “performs confidence” at the right time and place.
In order to enhance customer experience, you should not only provide great customer care, but also ensure that you sound great over the phone. Your voice quality and tone can make more difference than what you are actually saying. After all, you are not just providing a service or selling a product. You are making a difference in a customer's life. Your voice is a crucial part of how your customer perceives the interaction and, in turn, your business.