Customer Service Phone Etiquette

Telephone Etiquette

The customer who contacts your company is going to base his perception of your company, products and services on the attention he gets from speaking with you so answering phone calls and greeting customers professionally is very important.  Good phone etiquette is how you greet the customer, establishing a good first impression and tone, active listening and being courteous, cheerful, polite, able and willing to show empathy to callers or clients. Never argue with customers, rush them through a call or otherwise provide poor service. 

Good Phone Etiquette with Examples

Here are 10 telephone etiquette tips that are that will make your customers happy.

1.  Greet the Caller

When greeting someone over the telephone, it is extremely important to establish a good first impression of your company. Answer the call promptly and enthusiastically, preferable within 3 rings. Don’t forget to smile before you answer the phone as this will be reflected in your tone of voice and will be great for maintaining a positive attitude, not only during the call, but through-out the whole day.   Yes, customers can actually hear your smile because smiling helps your voice sound friendly, warm, and receptive.

2.  Introduce Yourself and your Company

Establishing a great first impression is so important as it sets the tone for the entire conversation. It all begins with having a positive attitude which impacts the way you answer the call. Always answer promptly, enthusiastically and professionally and with a friendly tone. If your company has a standard greeting in place, add a phrase of welcome to personalize the greeting.  Avoid coming across as unprofessional by using single word statements such as “Hello”.  Instead, offer a warm welcome to show your customers you’re happy they chose your business that includes an offer to help. Use a professional greeting that includes the Name of your Business, Your Name and an opening statement or questions. A good example would be: 

“Thank-you for calling ABC Cloud Computing.  This is Molly. How may I help you?”

3.  Actively Listen

A guaranteed way of making a poor impression is to not pay attention to the caller after you have answered the telephone.  Not listening makes it harder to establish rapport and identify the customers needs so actively listening is key to establishing great telephone etiquette skills.

Good phone etiquette requires getting your phone conversations off on a positive note by being poised and ready to listen and to help.  Remember that you are the voice of your company so how you handle each customer call is how the customer is going to remember your company.  Let your customer know you are ready to help them by giving them your full attention by actively listening without interrupting.  Only by doing this can you help them find the best solutions.  Here are 9 Tips to improve your listening skills.

4. Build Rapport

Always try to add a personal touch to the conversation by building rapport with the customer.  This way, the customer knows they are talking to a caring human being and not just someone who is reading a script.  You could do it at the beginning of the call or anytime through-out the call, particularly if your computer is slow or you are in the middle of changing screens.  You can begin establishing a rapport in many ways by trying to find some common ground for a conversation .  Keep topics simple such as current events, weather, sports or entertainment.  If you honestly can’t think of anything to say, a simple “How are you doing today” will suffice.

5.  Express Empathy When Needed

If your customer is upset, show you are listening by expressing empathy.  Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  Expressing empathy with customers sends a positive message that shows you’re listening to them and that you are relating to what they’re saying. You could say something like:

“I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having difficulties.  I’d be happy to take your order.” OR

“I understand how you are feeling right now. I will get this resolved as soon as possible.”

6.  Speak Clearly

Callers will not only judge you on the tone of your voice but also on what you say and how you say it. Remember when talking over the phone, you’re unable to rely on the nonverbal expressions that are so important in face to face conversations. All the caller has to go by is what they hear over the phone. Therefore, speaking clearly and in an upbeat, enthusiastic tone is extremely important at all

7.  Ask for Permission before putting someone on Hold

telephone etiquette

When putting a caller on hold, always ask for permission and wait for the customer to answer you. Most customers will answer “yes” if asked them politely to hold. If options other than holding exist, such as leaving a message, voice mail or finding information on the internet, let the caller know at this time. You could say “Ms. Buntin is not available right now. Would you like to hold?”

Check back with caller periodically so the customer knows you are still working on the problem and haven’t forgotten them. When you return to a customer who is on hold, always thank them for their patience and then provide them with the information they requested or if necessary, transfer them to someone who can help them.

8.  Maintain a Positive Attitude

Experts agree that maintaining a positive attitude is a choice you can make on a daily basis. While you may not have any control over many things that happen in life, you can, in fact, control your attitude by incorporating some positive choices into your daily work life. A positive attitude can be learned and will definitely your key to success.

9.  Summarize the Customers Needs

When dealing with customers, your job is to uncover their needs.  Some customers make their needs known right away but with other customers, you may need to discover them by asking questions. When you’ve asked enough questions to determine your customers needs, summarize their needs back to the customer to make sure you have got it right.  For example, “From what I understand, we will be installing on March 9th”.  Always keep your customer informed by letting them know what you’re doing so keep the dialog going..  

10.  Show Appreciation and End the Call

Ending the call is just as important as the initial greeting.  Recapping or summarizing what you have done for the customer helps to cut down on errors and informs the customer of what you are doing to handle their request.  It also gives the customer the opportunity to acknowledge and accept the solution.  Regardless of whether you found a workable solution or not, always leave a positive lasting impression with your customer.  Let them know that you value them by acknowledging them and showing your appreciation. You could say something like:

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

If the customer responds with “No, that will be all“. You could then say:

“Again, my name is Molly.  If you need to call back regarding your order, anyone in our order department can help you by referencing your order number.  Thank-you for calling ABC Cloud Computing and have a great day.”

Receptionist Phone Etiquette

Good phone etiquette is also important in the role of a receptionist. Receptionist’s are responsible for greeting customers, either in person or by answering incoming calls.  A good first impression is important as the Receptionist is the first point of contact for the entire organization, which requires a positive attitude and polished, professional appearance. 

A warm greeting by a receptionist can go a long way and speaks volumes on how a company will treat it’s customers.  Therefore, the receptionist is always required to provide excellent customer service.   The receptionist will also use a professional greeting that includes the Name of your Business, Your Name and an opening statement or questions. However, they will most likely be directing the call to another employee so a good example would be: 

“Thank-you for calling ABC Cloud Computing.  This is Molly. How may I direct your call?

Phone Etiquette Training

To improve your office skills  today, take the Telephone Etiquette Training  or the Telephone Etiquette and Customer Service Skills online course offered on

This course is taught in the Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom. The Office Skills Collaborative Online Classroom is a fun and interactive way to learn Office Skills. Get the benefit of learning online while being in a classroom environment with an instructor, other students, discussion forums, chat rooms, lectures, presentations and video demonstrations.

Additional Phone Etiquette Resources

Find more free resources about phone etiquette in our phone skills resources page.

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