- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

Let’s talk about telephones and how to make them your friend, not your enemy.

I do a fair amount of business on the telephone, and this past week I had a few experiences that warrant mentioning. On a couple of occasions, I spoke with customer-service representatives who were either so bored with their jobs that they sounded like semi-comatose droids or no one ever defined customer service to them. Then, on another couple of occasions, people called me to ask for advice or information and were either so unprepared that they couldn’t phrase their questions in a way that was understandable or so rude that they didn’t even introduce themselves.

Understand a couple of things. Most people don’t like to talk on the telephone unless it’s a personal call with friends or family, and the telephone is purely one-dimensional. The person on the other end cannot see your smiling face, your professional dress or your body language. All they can see is the impression your voice gives out - and we all know how long first impressions last.

If you’re using the telephone to request interviews, follow up on interviews, get company information or communicate with networking contacts, let’s go over a few pointers to help make that phone your friend; not your enemy.

Speak clearly and slowly. Don’t raise your voice to a yell, but speak audibly into the speaker. Project your voice.

Keep your body language friendly and positive. It helps to stand up, but if you stay seated, sit up straight so that your posture doesn’t keep your diaphragm from restraining your voice. If you smile, it adds sparkle to your voice. If you slump and frown, your contact hears it in your voice.

Introduce yourself and state the reason for your call. Don’t just jump into your questions. Make sure they know who you are.

State the reason for the call, and if you’re nervous, write out a little script to keep you on course. The object is to be clear and understandable, particularly if you want information or help from the person you’re calling.

Always thank the person before hanging up. Keep smiling and project your friendliness and positive attitude through your voice.

If customer service is your business, look it up in your dictionary.

c Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach. Contact him at mwalberg@bellsouth.net, marvinwalberg.blogspot.com, or P.O. Box 43056, Birmingham, AL 35243.

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

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