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A Better Answer Blog

Business Phone Etiquette 101

a-better-answer_blog-header_Phone Ettiquette

Even with the proliferation of social media, the telephone remains one of the most important communication devices between businesses and customers. Social media doesn’t allow for inflection or any well trusted way to sense mood and rapport like hearing someone’s voice over a phone line. Because a phone conversation is limited, in comparison to meeting face-to-face, there are rules of business etiquette that should be followed.

Adhering to these rules will help ensure a positive phone experience.


Answering the Phone

When and how a phone call is answered may dictate the flow of the rest of the conversation. Here are a few tips to answer the phone correctly.

  • Be aware of the reason for the call before answering. If you are calling, make sure you know why you are calling and what objective you wish to convey. If you are receiving the call, remember that you are a representative of a business.
  • The call should be answered within a certain number of rings. Answering on the first ring may be a surprise to the caller. More than three rings and the caller may wonder if they will be a distraction to someone who’s in the middle of something else.
  • Smile before picking up the phone. A smile can be heard through the phone line and immediately sets a friendly tone.
  • Answer with a positive greeting and show support. Include your name and business and include phrases such as, “How may I help you?”
  • If you are eating, drinking or chewing gum, do not talk on the phone. Do not make it a habit to eat at your desk and you won’t be tempted to answer the phone.

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Talking on the Phone

After the phone has been answered, both parties have already sensed a tone of the call. Next we’ll cover some tips for talking on the phone so each party feels they have been heard at the end of the call.

  • Speak clearly. In order to be understood, your voice should be calm and clear, not too loud and not too soft. Also, use words that the caller will comprehend – no slang or swear words should be used.
  • Whether you initiated the call or not, listening is the most powerful message you can convey without saying a word. Do not interrupt the other party and, if needed, take notes so that you will be able to respond appropriately.
  • Stay on track. While it’s easy to get off topic on a phone call, remember to get back on track to reach the objective of the call or end the call on a positive note.
  • Ask permission. If you need to place a call on hold, transfer a call, or call someone back, ask the caller’s permission and listen for their response. Check in frequently if they will be placed on hold for a while.
  • Get their number. If you answered the call, get the caller’s number so that you can call them back if you get disconnected.


Ending the Phone Call

Ending a phone call means being aware that the caller’s questions are answered or that your objective has been met.

  • Schedule a follow-up. If you are unable to satisfy you or the caller’s objective, make sure to schedule a time and take down call back number to follow-up.
  • Transfer or escalate. If you are unable to help the caller, make sure to communicate that you will transfer or escalate the call. Follow appropriate procedures and make sure the call is being handled properly by the person on the other end of the transfer.
  • Ask final questions and close positively. The caller should have a clear understanding of what is going to happen or if their questions were successfully handled. Finishing a call with, “Is there anything else I can do?” will help the both of you feel the call has concluded on a positive note.

Even though your customers may not be local or available for a face-to-face meeting, a conclusive and genuine phone experience is a solid step in relationship building. Customers are decisive about the companies with whom they will do business based on a positive customer service experience. These rules of basic business phone etiquette will go far in creating customers that stick with you.
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