Celebrating the skills of the telephonist

Did you know that Monday marked the 138th anniversary of the first ever telephone call made by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant Thomas Watson? Technology may have changed dramatically throughout the last century, but the telephone is still a key communication tool for customers looking to speak to a real person within an organisation.

Our very first interaction with a company tends to be over the phone, so making a good impression is crucial to customer retention. This responsibility falls to the telephonist at the reception desk or in the call centre, so ensuring they’re trained and ready to handle any calls that come their way is vital.

There’s more to being an exceptional telephonist than just answering the phone, as one of our switchboard supervisors, Becky Spring, will testify. Here are some of the many things her team have to think about while handling hundreds of calls a day:

  • First point of contact – no matter what the nature of the call, the caller is relying on our team to get them to where they need to be;
  • Don’t take things personally – some callers may be confused, fed-up or angry so we can’t take it personally if they vent their frustration during the call;
  • Answer with a smile – it may be a bit cliché but it gives a positive impression to the caller and really can help calm them if they’re contacting the company with an issue or a complaint;
  • Update data – new information comes to light every day, whether it’s an associate being out of the office or they are on a new number, to a change in address or location – we need to ensure all information is updated to make the next call a lot more seamless;
  • Multi-task – we can be working with multiple databases and various lists therefore we need to ensure we have all of the relevant information to hand – whether that’s a bomb threat procedure or list of Duty Brokers for that day;
  • Recognise vocal impact – we need to have a consistent and engaging tone when dealing with every caller, maintaining our energy levels and putting across our own personality while being professional.

Becky Spring is Reservations and Switchboard Supervisor at Mitie Client Services

For more information on our telephony services or training courses we provide for switchboard and helpdesk teams, please contact:  keith.seymour@mitie.com

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