How you answer a call may be the first - and last - impression you make on a potential customer. There is the dreaded automated phone system that asks a caller to enter anything from an extension to an annoying litany of numbers (account number, zip code, department, etc.). What really irks me about the latter is that, once a live person actually answers the phone, you usually have to repeat part or all of these numbers. How incredibly annoying.
This particular post though is about how you answer your phone when you actually pick up a call. In my opinion it is a business requirement to answer at a minimum with your full name or business name, preferably both. I would suggest answering slowly enough so the caller can actually understand what you are saying. Enunciate! I would also suggest adding a "Good Morning" or "How may I help you?" or some other friendly greeting.
Last but not least, SMILE when you answer the phone. I can't tell you how often I call owners of small businesses or sales people that make we want to hang up immediately because they answer with nothing but "Hello" in a tone of voice that sounds like I just interrupted their Thanksgiving Dinner with a request to take out the trash. Really? Your phone is an essential part of your business. Make a caller feel appreciated.
This applies to sales reps as well. If you share your phone number for business reasons by means of a business card, letterhead, your LinkedIn profile or elsewhere, answering simply with "Hello" is not enough.
Consider how you answer the phone to be an important part of your marketing . It's cheap too! Putting a smile on and answering with complete information will make you stand out from your competition, especially when you compete with other small businesses.
Feel free to share your feelings about this topic or how you answer the phone in the comments section.
Heike Heemann, business coach and advisor, brings over 20 years of business experience to her blog.