Telephone Etiquette Tips for the Receptionist or Secretary

Telephone Etiquette Tips

Presenting a professional image, both in person and on the telephone, is very important in the Office Skills profession. Taking care of your customers over the telephone and making them feel well informed and appreciated is essential. The customer who contacts your company is going to base his perception of your company on the attention he gets from speaking with you. Therefore, answering phone calls and greeting customers professionally is very important. Whether you are the front office receptionist or an executive secretary, the following telephone etiquette tips from our Professional Telephone Etiquette E-learning Course will help you along the way.

Telephone Etiquette Tips for Answering the Call

Establish a Good First Impression

Exhibiting excellent telephone etiquette is extremely important in establishing a good first impression of your company. It all starts with some basic knowledge:

  • Know your company phone system. (Don’t practice on the caller.)
  • Answer the call promptly and enthusiastically, preferably 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.
  • Speak clearly. A picture paints a thousand words but the caller on the other end of the phone can only hear you. They cannot see your face or body language. Therefore, taking the time to speak clearly, slowly and in a cheerful, professional voice is very important.
  • Use your normal tone of voice when answering a call. If you have a tendency to speak loud or shout, avoid doing so on the telephone.
  • Do not eat or drink while you are on telephone duty. Only eat or drink during your coffee break or lunch break.
  • Do not use slang words or poor language. Respond clearly with “yes” or “no” when speaking. Never use swear words.

Answering the Company Telephone

Many experts agree that the following initial greeting will make your customers feel welcome and appreciated.

  1. Greet the caller in a friendly and enthusiastic manner such as “good morning” or” good afternoon.”
  2. State your company name. For example, “ABC Cloud Computing“.
  3. Introduce yourself to the caller. For example, “This is Molly
  4. Offer your help. For example, “How may I help you?”.

If answering the call as quickly as possible is the goal, then a three part greeting may suffice. You could say “Good morning, ABC Cloud Computing. This is Molly.” Be sure to say your name in a clear, upbeat and enthusiastic way as this will help to get the call off to a great start.

Ways to Properly Address US Callers

Knowing how to address US callers should be part of your telephone etiquette training. How to address US callers can be very confusing because of the many options available. It helps to be aware of your company’s policy and use that as a guideline. If you know who’s calling, then it’s polite to address the caller properly by his or her title. (i.e. Good morning Mr. Brown, Good afternoon Ms. Sanders). Here are some of the most common ways to address a caller.

  1. By their professional titles such as Dr. Baker or Professor Jones
  2. By their first name. Never address an unfamiliar caller by his or her first name. However, occasionally, the caller will refer to themselves by their first name only and in that case, it can be appropriate to call them by their first name.
  3. As an adult male or female such as Mr. Ms. or Mrs.
  4. Sir (adult male) and Ma’am or Madam (adult female). Yes, Ma’am and Sir are words of respect and can still be used when appropriate.
  5. Miss – last name (an unmarried woman).

Telephone Etiquette Tips While on the Call

Managing your Caller

You’re off to a great start by learning how to professionally greet the caller. With your courteous and positive attitude, you’ve already shown your customer that you care. However, how you handle your customers request will determine how your customer will remember you and your company. Here are a few telephone etiquette tips for managing your customer call:

  1. Give your customer your full attention by actively listening to their request without interrupting. The ability to listen is a problem in general but it is very important to listen to what the caller has to say.
  2. Summarize the customers request, whether that’s taking a message or looking up some information. It is always a good habit to repeat the information back to the client when you are taking a message. Verify that you have heard and transcribed the message accurately.
  3. Interact through-out the call by building rapport and adding a personal touch. Always keep the customer informed by explaining what you’re doing during the call. Saying something as simple as “It’ll take just a minute for me to bring up your account details. How are you doing today?” will go a long way.
  4. Be patient and helpful. If a caller is irate or upset, listen to what they have to say and empathize with them by saying statements such as “I understand how you are feeling right now. I will get this resolved as soon as possible“. Never snap back or act rude to the caller.
  5. Always focus on the call. Try not to get distracted by people around you. If someone tries to interrupt you while you are on a call, politely remind them that you are on a customer call and that you will be with them as soon as you are finished.

Putting Callers on Hold

There are many reasons why you may need to put a caller on hold as it’s not always possible in today’s busy work climate to be able to locate the correct person or find the information the caller needs immediately. Also, being placed on hold tends to be a frustrating and unproductive time for most callers so handling this situation with care is extremely important. Following a few recommended telephone etiquette practices will help ensure your caller remains on the line and feels informed at all times.

  1. Always ask for permission to put the caller on hold and wait for the customer to answer. If you are responsible for answering multiple calls at once, always ask the caller politely if you may put them on hold. Remember that the caller could have already waited several minutes before getting connected to you and may not take lightly to being put on hold.
  2. Check back with the caller periodically, preferably every 30 seconds. Never leave the person on hold for too long without checking back or they may become upset and hang up.
  3. Thank the caller for holding and apologize for the wait time if necessary.
  4. Transfer the caller to the person they were holding for or provide them with the information they requested.

Ending the Call

Ending the call is just as important as the initial caller greeting as this is your last opportunity to make sure the caller is completely satisfied with the service they received and that they hang up with a positive impression of your company. Here are some telephone etiquette tips on how to end the call professionally.

  1. Thank the caller for calling and summarize what you did for the customer.
  2. Let the caller know you appreciate their business.
  3. Offer to help in the future by letting the customer know how to contact you or your company.
  4. Say goodbye but always let the caller hang up first. Here is an example of ending the call:

“Thank-you for calling Mr. Barton. We very much appreciate your order and it has been a pleasure doing business with you. If you find you need additional assistance, please call us back at 800-555-1212.”

Making Calls

  1. Always identify yourself properly. When calling a client or customer, whether in person or when leaving a message, always identify yourself properly by providing your name, company name and contact telephone number. For example, “Good afternoon Mr. Brown, this is Ms. Brown from Officeskills.orgMy telephone number is 408-555-1212.” Always be aware of confidential information when leaving messages. Also, be aware of people around you while talking on the phone. Be discreet!  Someone next to you might overhear confidential information that could negatively affect your business.
  2. Avoid leaving long winded messages. Remember, someone has to listen to your message, write it down and then act upon it. Your message may be just one of many messages that needs to be handled. It is often a good habit to write down or type out your message in advance. Keep it brief and to the point.

$49.99 Professional Telephone Etiquette E-Learning Module

Telephone Etiquette Training

In our Professional Telephone Etiquette e-learning module, you’ll learn basic telephone etiquette skills including learning how manage the call from beginning to end including professionally greeting the caller, building rapport during the call, expressing empathy when needed, showing appreciation to the customer for calling and ending the call in a professional manner. You’ll learn how to Master Basic Telephone Skills including how to answer the telephone professionally and enthusiastically, how to transfer calls effectively without annoying customers, how to appropriately use the customer’s name during the call and how to take messages professionally and accurately. This course is hosted in the Phone Skills Collaborative Online Classroom. Join at any time and work at your own pace. You will have up to six months to complete the program.

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