Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit Meadowbank Product Code: 2703

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1 SITXCOM004A Communicate on the telephone Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit Meadowbank Product Code: 2703

2 Acknowledgments TAFE NSW Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit, Meadowbank would like to acknowledge the support and assistance of the following people in the production of this resource. Project manager: Reg Edwards Education Programs Manager TAFE NSW Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit, Meadowbank Project Team Jan Jorgensen Teacher, Travel and Tourism TAFE NSW Enquiries Enquiries about this and other publications can be made to: Leanne Courtney Teacher, Travel and Tourism TAFE NSW TAFE NSW Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit, Meadowbank Locked Bag No. 6 MEADOWBANK NSW 2114 Tel: Fax: The State of New South Wales, TAFE NSW Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit, Meadowbank, 2008 Copyright of this material is reserved to TAFE NSW Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit, Meadowbank. Reproduction or transmittal in whole or in part, other than for the purposes of private study or research, and subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act, is prohibited without the written authority of TAFE NSW Training and Education Support Industry Skills Unit, Meadowbank. ISBN i

3 TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION... 1 Resource overview... 1 Required skills and knowledge... 1 To prove competency in this unit of competency evidence of the following is required:... 1 TOPIC 1 RESPOND TO INCOMING TELEPHONE CALLS Telephone techniques... 5 Connecting and transferring calls TOPIC 2 MAKE TELEPHONE CALLS...25 Preparing and making calls Advantages and disadvantages of different phone answering options Time differences and language barriers Telephone interpreting services and TTYs SUMMING UP...43 DISCLAIMER: While we have made efforts to ensure that the information contained is accurate, the tourism industry is dynamic. Some businesses cease to operate while others start up, new products are developed and existing ones are modified. Refer to your trainer for current updated information. iii

4 SITXCOM004A Communicate on the telephone TOPIC 1 RESPOND TO INCOMING TELEPHONE CALLS. At the end of this topic you should be able to: Answer telephone calls promptly, clearly and politely according to organisation standards. Offer friendly assistance to the caller and establish the purpose of the call. Repeat call details to the caller to confirm understanding. Answer caller enquiries promptly or transfer caller to the appropriate location and person. Where necessary, record caller requests and information and pass on to the appropriate department or person for follow-up. Relay messages accurately to the nominated person within appropriate timelines. Report threatening or suspicious phone calls promptly to the appropriate person and according to organisation procedures. Use language, tone and volume appropriate to the nature of the phone call. 4

5 Answering the telephone You should answer the telephone so that your opening words count - that way your caller isn t forced to ask obvious questions. Think about times when you ve made calls. How have they been answered? Try to identify what you found pleasant and what might have annoyed you by doing the following activity. Read the following call or listen to a role play simulation. What do you think he is doing wrong? Make a list of things that shouldn t be done when you answer a phone, and suggest improvements the person could make. Hello Hello. Is this Travel Options? Yep. Can I help you? Yes, I d like to speak to Ron Woolfe please? Ron s not in today. Do you want to leave a message? Well, if there s no one else who can help me (pause) Could you tell him that Melissa Duval called. I want to change one of the flights next month and I also need to change several of the hotel bookings he made for me. Sorry, I ve just found a pen. Could you repeat that, love? (in slightly exasperated voice) It s Melissa Duval. I want to change one of the flights I ve booked and I also need to change several of the hotel bookings Ron made for me. Can you ask him to call me back on ? Right. Got that, darlin. Bye bye then. (sound of phone being hung up). Telephone techniques Three things are important when you answer a call: The way you greet the person and begin the conversation. The tone of your voice and how it conveys friendliness and interest. The way you try to establish empathy with the caller by being polite, listening carefully and giving appropriate responses. The telephone techniques can be learned. Some of the skills involved are: 5

6 SITXCOM004A Communicate on the telephone your speaking skills and the way you use your voice your listening skills your skill in giving feedback Tips on answering the phone Telephone operations are a very important aspect of work in the business world. A client s first impression of your travel agency is often the one that lasts. Also, much of the business that comes into an organisation may be via the phone. What do you say when you answer your phone at home? Most people just say, Hello? Others may say something like, Hello, Jane speaking, which is an improvement on the first response as it identifies the speaker. Here are some tips from Beverley on answering the phone at work. They are well worth your attention. 1. Answer the phone as soon as you can. More than three or four rings becomes a distraction and an irritation, both to the caller and to others in the office. 2. Start by lifting the receiver with your non-writing hand to avoid changing hands if you need to write. You may need to move the phone to a different place on your desk so this is more convenient. 3. Greet the customer and identify yourself and your organisation. For example: Welcome to Hotel Broadway, this is Michelle. 4. Put a smile in your voice and the person at the other end will recognise it! Don t be just another voice. Try it! It will improve your own attitude and make you feel better as well. Essential skills Some of the essential skills you need to have for answering the phone are speaking skills, listening skills, being able to provide appropriate feedback, and being able to communicate in a clear, jargon-free way. Speaking skills The quality of your voice takes on greater significance when the caller isn t able to see you. Aim for a clear, natural tone of voice, and speak at a comfortable rate. If you speak too fast, you will sound nervous or hurried; too slow, and your listener may think you re not interested in them. Think about the way you speak. Are you aware of the rhythm, speed, volume and pitch of your speech? Each aspect of your voice is going to affect the meaning of what you say to your listener. 6

7 Rhythm: Speak using natural speech patterns. Speed: Pace your speech; it shouldn t be too fast or too slow. Volume: Speak clearly, neither shouting nor whispering. Pitch: Pitch your voice slightly higher to indicate urgency or a high level of interest. Avoid colloquial language You should use good, clear English when you speak. You can be friendly but you must also be businesslike. Using casual language or slang is not appropriate in a business setting. Never use slang such as see ya or appear overly friendly with new contact. This is unprofessional and reflects badly on your organisation. Always be polite and use correct terms such as please and thank you. This presents a more professional image to you and your company. If the caller s first language is not English, it may help them to have an interpreter. Arranging this for them could be another way of giving good service to your company s clients. Avoid highly technical jargon Using technical jargon may be appropriate when you are talking to travel industry people, but it could be confusing when you are speaking to clients. So keep your language simple. The use of acronyms may also be a problem if the caller is not familiar with the abbreviated form. For example, instead of AFTA, you would say the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. It is important that you offer friendly assistance to the caller and establish the purpose of the call. Read the following points on how to speak when answering calls in the office. Opening remarks Listening Greet the caller, giving both the company s name and your own. Speak clearly not too loudly and not too softly. Greet the person with a smile in your voice. Don t eat or drink. One of the greatest telephone turn-offs is the sound of eating or drinking in one s ear! Give the caller your individual attention and give sufficient feedback. Make sure the caller knows that there message is being heard. Good morning, Sydney Visitor Information Centre, this is Tatiana Yes. Mmmm. I see. 7

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