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The Language of Great Phone Communication

January 6, 2015
Mary Jane Copps

Happy New Year everyone! I’m entering 2015 (Year 9 as The Phone Lady!) with great excitement. Phone communication is changing so rapidly and I know this year will bring a wealth of new experiences to share with you.

In fact, here’s the first one, an article sent to me by Scott Fasken on Coca Cola disconnecting their voicemail … not because they want to encourage conversation by answering their phones, but because they are shifting to text messaging.

This fascinates me. I understand the ability of some tech firms to support business growth without speaking on the phone, but Coca Cola? How are they finding new customers? How are they listening to their existing customers? I’m very curious and am going to pursue more information on this in the weeks and months ahead.

Meanwhile, this quote has captured my full attention:

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment. Hart Crane

It summarizes much of what I teach about phone communication – the vital importance of having the right words (words that transcend the need for body language) at the right time. This year I’m going to take you on a journey through my lexicon – the best, and worst, words in phone communication. It’s not going to be an alphabetical journey (it will be impacted by current experiences) but I am starting us off with some important “A’s”.

Agenda: Every phone call is an interruption. This has always been the case, ever since the phone was invented, but today because the majority of us are frantically busy, almost every phone call is met with a sense of rush. We pick it up focused on the why and how long it will take even before we say “Hello”.

Therefore, in order to be heard, it is important that you state your “agenda” clearly and concisely at the beginning of the call. This allows your audience to put aside their initial defensiveness and give you about 20 seconds of their undivided attention. Use phrases such as “The reason for my call today is …” or “The purpose of my call is …” to introduce your “why”.

Achieve and/or Accomplish: Along with your agenda, it is important to tell your audience where you are going. Why? Well think about getting on a bus or train and not knowing where it’s headed. This would distract you from enjoying the journey, wouldn’t it? (Okay, maybe not all of you would find this a distraction, but you are rare gems indeed!) Perhaps a better analogy is a meeting. We like to know not only the agenda for meetings but approximately what time they will end. This allows us to give our full attention to the meeting without being distracted by the passage of time. You’ve probably experienced a meeting going into overtime and how the level of distraction in the room grows and grows until someone says something like “Looks like we’re going to wrap up at 7 pm instead of 6:30 folks”. This allows everyone to relax and refocus.

It’s the same with phone calls. You need to tell your audience where you are going so they don’t remain distracted and on high alert. Phrases such as:

So what I’d like to accomplish with this call is …

So what I’m hoping to achieve with this call is … (This is one of the few places I recommend using the word “hope” in a phone call.)

You may want to book an appointment, or send detailed information, or invite them to an online demo. When you use these phrases, your emphasis is on the word “I”. This allows your audience to hear that they can chose a different outcome and that you will respect their choice.

Check out this previous post for additional information.

 

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