In business, what you say on the phone is important, sure, but how that telephone conveys your thoughts can be a deal breaker.
It all began when Judge Harold H. Greene ruled AT&T a monopoly in 1982 and broke it into pieces. When that happened, the vice grip hold on telephone ownership was broken. No longer did you have to pay the phone company monthly rent on a 5 pound black telephone.
The market was flooded with new telephone companies and telephones. As deregulation continued, even the wiring in your office or home was no longer covered or maintained by the phone company.
What that means today is, your business phone and the impression it makes is now your responsibility.
How many phones in your business? It makes no difference if you use a multi phone computer driven PBX or have two phones plugged into the same jack, they MUST sound good.
You have no doubt talked with someone in business who, for whatever unexplained reason, just didn't sound right. Itís more psychological than anything, a nagging that something is amiss. That little alarm bell may have changed your impression of the person on the other end. All because of the quality of the telephone voice.
Electronic prices fall daily as more and more little chips take the place of traditional components. Computers are selling for one quarter of their prices 3 years ago. Some telephones now cost less than 3 dollars.
The difference is the way the telephone processes your voice. The telephone wires, to use a cyberspace term, have very limited bandwidth. If you have a good set of earphones and listen to your favorite CD., you can expect your headset to deliver 20 to 20,000 cycles of music. Your ears may not even be able to hear that range. 20 is a really deep base and 20,000 is a really high treble. 20 to 20,000 is the standard. With the telephone wire, the range is more like 100 to 8000. Enough to hit the range of most voices, but thatís it.
With the telephone bandwidth limited, your phone must be at its very best using that space. Remember that conversation that your subconscious said was just not right? It wasn't what was said, but how it sounded. On a good telephone, the other party comes across crisp, sharp and clear. On some cheaper phones, much of the processing has been left out of the little chip, keeping the price down with the quality.
There must be an edge to your voice on the phone. The last impression you want to give is that of talking through your handkerchief or holding the phone at armís length.
Lets hit some basics:
Your business telephone should be in two pieces, the telephone itself and the handset. Forget about trendy one piece $9.95 models.
Your telephone should be connected to the telephone system by a wire. Plugged into the wall with one of those little plastic connectors on the end. Don't use a cordless phone for business communication.
Your telephone should fit your face. Hereís a test. Next time you are in any store with a big display of telephones (even Wal Mart has a line of demos eight to ten feet long) pick up the handset of every phone and put it to your ear. Some just don't fit. Don't fit your ear, don't fit your hand, don't feel right. If the phone doesn't fit, how can your business conversation be any more than walking on a blister from new shoes.
Another test, for the next week, carefully listen to the "sound" on incoming telephone calls. Its your subconscious that has been doing the listening up to now, but move it to the front. Listen for a crisp sound. No muffles. Listen for a presence; see if it sounds like the party on the other end is right there in your ear not off someplace. Listen for clarity, no static, no hum, Think about your comfort level with the conversation. When things aren't right, the level drops and maybe the business relationship as a result.
Cell phones do it all the time, low levels and the dreaded drop out. Yet many believe it is because of the infrastructure of the cell network, not the phones. On the other hand, we believe the structure of Ma Bellís old network to be sound and solid, so any departure from the very best must be shoddy equipment on the callerís end, right?
Impressions are everything and a crummy phone can impress in the wrong direction.
When you hear a phone that sounds good, tell the caller you are considering new phones and his sounds especially good, what brand and model is it. Say it no matter how is sounds, (compliment to get the order). Soon you will have a list of phones you like and phones you don't want.
When you buy your new phone, be sure the clerk understands you might bring it back tomorrow if it sounds bad when you plug it in and there is no way to know until you do that. Have someone in your office or family, plug it in and call you. Listen for first class quality. If it is not there, take it back.
Many people use headsets and headset telephones in business. Even four-thousand phone call centers use headsets. The same quality concerns come with headsets. When you are doing your incoming call survey to see who sounds great and who doesn't, you will get several on headsets. If they say they are on headset, ask if it an over the head type, one ear covered or two. Ask if it has an adjustable arm that moves the mic near your mouth, or if it is an in the ear model with a two inch stick across your cheek. In no time you will develop you own opinions about which headset is best for you.
Some headsets plug into your regular phone, some are telephones made especially for headsets. Most have amplifiers. The best have two amplifiers, one for your ear to better hear the caller and another for your mouth, so the caller doesn't have to strain to hear you (that control is an adjustment you make when you set up the phone by calling a few associates who understand the value of being prepared).
The stores with the phone selection will also have a headset collection, but they will be in sealed packages so you can't fit them to your head or hear them work. Once you narrow your selection, be sure the clerk understands your testing policy or don't buy from that store.
Cell phone headsets are especially tricky. In an effort to keep them mobile, they make them smaller which makes it difficult to get good quality. Buttons in the ear and a pin size microphone on the little cord are common, but the little cord must be near your mouth or you sound like you are calling from under Niagara Falls. There is even one with the little microphone built into the ear button. Your voice has to go out your mouth and make a 180 turn and follow your cheek to your ear to be heard. How good can that sound?
What you need is for your business conversations to sound as sharp and clear and professional as you are face to face. You get that by avoiding the cheap phones and searching for those that sound great to you. Take your survey, do you research and your phone will soon match your professionalism.
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©2006 BIG Mike McDaniel, All Rights Reserved BIG Mike is a Business Consultant and Professional Speaker. His BIG Ideas Group helps business grow with promotions, special reports, mastermind groups, seminars and consulting. Subscribe to "BIG Ideas for Small Business" Newsletter visit http://BigIdeasGroup.com
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