What is telephone handling?

Telephone handling can make a world of difference to all kinds of businesses. Effective call handling doesn’t only lead to improved customer experience, it can improve sales, customer retention and, when managed externally, can save precious business time. So what exactly is telephone handling? 

What is telephone handling?

In essence, telephone handling is the management of inbound and outbound telephone calls for a business. Call handling can be done by call centre agents, sales and telecommunications teams, or reception staff. While it’s traditionally used for sales businesses, telephone handling has benefits for all kinds of companies. 

The main benefit of proper telephone handling is improved customer satisfaction, which often leads to customer retention and an increase in sales. However, even if a business isn’t focused on sales, telephone handling still has its benefits. 

When telephone handling is done well, it has been shown to save both the business and the customer precious time by providing a clear and direct communication channel. And above all, having professional call handling makes a business sound more professional – this works exceptionally well for small businesses. 

RELATED: What is an answering service?

What is inbound call handling?

Inbound call handling is the answering and management of incoming calls to a business. This can often be done by a receptionist or customer service team, whose job is it to receive customer calls. Larger companies usually have dedicated inbound call centres to deal with inbound call handling. 

While the same team can handle inbound and outbound calling, larger companies will usually keep these functions separate, with inbound call handling centres dedicated solely to receiving calls. In contrast, outbound calls centres will traditionally be used to sell products and services over the phone.

When you think of how telephone handling and inbound call handling are carried out, you might imagine large customer support contact centres, filled with call centre agents answering the phone to incoming calls. However, that isn’t always the case. 

Many small to medium-sized companies can now benefit from effective telephone handling as a part of virtual office packages. These packages feature a range of call handling solutions, including a local telephone number, live receptionists who will answer customer calls. In some cases, this also includes online live chat.  

What are call handling skills?

Just like any good business practice, call handling comes with its own set of skills. These are often defined as “soft” interpersonal skills that rely on excellent, clear communication and the ability to handle customer enquiries succinctly and to the customer’s satisfaction. There are three key skills to proper handling. 

Answer quickly and avoid holding

One of the most important aspects of call handling happens before the call even starts. Answering a call within the first three rings illustrates to the caller that their call is important and that their time is respected. This also helps the business to process a higher number of calls overall. 

Similarly, avoiding keeping a caller on hold for extended periods of time, and instead, dealing with caller enquiries quickly while keeping them on the line, helps the caller feel like they are important  – not just to the call handler but the wider business. This, in turn, should increase the caller’s satisfaction and help with customer retention. 

Listen to the caller

The most important part of call handling is listening to the person on the other end of the line. Paying attention to the caller, and ensuring that you correctly understand their needs, will make even the tersest of conversations run a little more smoothly. 

Call handlers shouldn’t be afraid to repeat the caller’s query back to them or ask questions, in an effort to fully understand their point of view – correctly understanding the caller is half the task.  

Be positive and personal 

As soon as the call handler picks up the phone, they should adopt a positive tone and use it consistently throughout the call. Starting the call on a positive note can set the mood for the rest of the call, and disarm potentially aggravated callers. 

In addition to using a positive tone, by using personalisation on call – offering their own name, asking the caller their name and then addressing the caller by their name throughout the call – a call handler can make the caller feel important. However, be careful not to overuse the caller’s name, as this can often feel disingenuous. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s one that should come naturally to the call handler, and never be forced. 

Whatever the business, telephone handling services and well-honed call handling skills can increase professionalism, customer satisfaction and retention. Telephone handling services are often included as part of a virtual office so that you can run your business from anywhere, and customers will never know that they are talking to a third-party receptionist when they call, making it a popular option for businesses of all sizes.

Rovva can help you succeed in
the virtual world

Your complete business toolkit

Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.

Your complete business toolkit

Rovva puts everything you need for your business in one place. From an accountancy helpline to a drop-in business lounge - we've got everything covered.