Customer-Oriented Phone Calls: 10 Tips for Professional Phone Calls

Stephanie Piehlmeier
Communication and interaction skills

Old but Gold: The phone is one of the most important tools for customer communication. Whether in sales or customer service—in addition to e⁠-⁠mails, chats and social media, many companies continue to rely on traditional telephone conversations with customers. And rightly so, because the telephone can be used to serve customers very effectively. Provided that you make phone calls professionally and customer-oriented! Our guide to successful customer conversations on the phone is here to help you.

We will give you practical tips on how to accompany your customers well throughout the phone call, from the greeting to the end of the conversation. You will learn how to make customer phone calls properly. You will also learn how to use your voice and manner of speaking convincingly, and how to shine eloquently on the phone.

The customer as a compass

The phone rings, a customer calls. You start the conversation full of enthusiasm. Nevertheless, it goes wrong. You talk past each other, the customer seems more and more dissatisfied, you are also increasingly frustrated. How to make it go better? A good starting point is usually customer orientation.

Making customer-oriented calls means:

  • align the conversation with the needs and expectations of the customer

  • perceive the mood of the customer and respond to it empathically

  • communicate understandably and politely

It doesn't matter whether you call or are called. In both cases, the best way to convince your conversation partners is to lead them through the phone call in a customer-friendly manner.

Let's get started with our 10 tips for professional customer phone calls. This is how you will convince on the phone!

Tip 1: Start the conversation confidently and friendly

The first impression counts. Therefore, strike a confident tone right at the beginning and greet your counterpart in a friendly manner. Say the name of your business and your name clearly. To make sure your name is really understandable, and that your conversation partner knows who they are dealing with or whether they have reached the right person, you can pause briefly after your name.

After the greeting, you should not lose yourself in small talk, but set the course for the phone call early on and take charge of the conversation. For example, explain why you are calling, offer your help with customer concerns, or steer the conversation through questioning techniques.

Tip 2: Lead the phone call in a structured manner

The thread is easily lost on the phone. Attention fades quickly when we don't have our counterpart sitting in front of us. And without seeing the facial expressions and body language, it is often difficult to follow the other person. Then misunderstandings have an easy game.

Structure and transparent communication in the customer phone call help with this:

Give your counterpart an outlook on the topics and the course of the phone call.

Initiate when you interrupt the call (e.g., "Let me look into that, one moment please"), and check back when you resume the call (e.g., "Thank you for waiting...").

Comment on anything you do on the side (e.g., getting papers or writing something down).

Tip 3: Listen actively to your counterpart

Give the person you are talking with your full concentration when they are talking. The rule is: no multitasking, "just" listening. But that doesn't mean to let your ears get chewed off. Really listen to what the other person is trying to convey to you, while holding back your own opinions. If something is unclear to you, ask. This way, misunderstandings can be prevented or resolved. Small signs of confirmation in between—for example, "Mhm," "I see," or "Okay"—also show your counterpart that you are still on the line and mentally on point. By the way, you will become a true professional in listening with our E⁠-⁠Learning "Active listening".

Tip 4: Always remain calm and respectful on the customer phone call

"Complaints" Rejections by the dozen in cold calling. Adamant conversation partners. Yes, customer phone calls can get on your nerves. However, in order to always represent your company professionally and continue to pursue your goals even after setbacks, you should not let difficult phone calls provoke or demotivate you.

  • Practice

  • remaining calm and composed on the phone at all times

  • putting yourself in the shoes of dissatisfied customers as well

  • de-escalateing charged situations purposefully

  • It can also help to take a moment before the phone call to tune in mentally.

Tip 5: Pay attention to your voice

The voice is closely linked to the mood of the phone call. Especially on the phone, it plays a significant role: Because your counterpart cannot perceive your facial expressions and gestures, the voice automatically becomes more prominent. Those who are in a good mood sound more likeable. So when you're on the phone, put a smile on your face—it'll show in your voice. Also, try to articulate as clearly as possible and pronounce important information with special emphasis and slowly.

Tip 6: Mirror the way your counterpart speaks

Every person has a very specific way of speaking. When we talk to a person who communicates similarly as we do, for example, with a similar speed, with a loud or flowery voice, we feel like we're on the same page. You can take advantage of that! Adjust the speed of speech, volume, expression or even the proportion of speech to your counterpart. But be careful not to overdo this "mirroring"—otherwise it irritates more than it connects.

Tip 7: Speak from the point of view of your counterpart

Formulate in an approachable and customer-centered way. A negative example: "I'd be happy to help with any questions." That sounds impersonal. Surely you would feel more directly addressed with "I'll be happy to help you with any questions, Ms/Mr X"—right? Your customers feel the same way! Speak from their perspective and address them with their name every now and then.

Tip 8: Speak simply and engagingly

To ensure that your customers enjoy listening to you on the phone, you should

  • keep it short and simple

  • use Storytelling

  • speak figuratively (e.g. in metaphors and analogies)

  • formulate positively (e.g. "I will be happy to find out more about this for you" instead of "I don't know")

  • Reduce filler words (e.g. "so to speak", "namely", "quasi")

  • Avoid foreign words

  • Adhere to courtesy standards

Tip 9: Conclude the conversation skillfully.

The phone call is coming to an end: To leave a positive impression, you should close the interview as professionally as you opened it. To do this, summarize the most important results of the conversation. Especially for longer phone calls, always give a brief summary and make sure there are no misunderstandings.

Also agree with your counterpart how to proceed after the phone conversation. Will you send an email afterward? Does your counterpart call again when needed? Did you make an appointment? When everything is settled, thank them for the conversation and say a friendly goodbye.

Tip 10: Do not forget the follow-up

For many, a phone call is over as soon as both conversation partners hang up. Of course, that's the end of the conversation. But is it also the end of your to-dos? It is advisable to invest a few minutes in follow-up after the phone call. This includes:

  • Take notes on the conversation or revise and file notes taken during the call

  • enter agreed dates in the calendar

  • Document tasks that have resulted from the interview

This is usually done quickly and ensures that you reliably keep the agreements with your conversation partners and do not forget anything important.

It takes practice

Customer phone calls are part of everyday working life for many. To make your phone calls successful, pay attention to how you guide your counterpart through the conversation, what you say and how you say it. The more you practice customer-oriented phone calls, the more convincing you will appear to your conversation partners! You can find many opportunities for practice and reflection as well as further tips in our e⁠-⁠learning "Customer-Oriented Communication on the Phone".

We are happy to provide HR managers with a free trial access to our e⁠-⁠learnings.

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