Telephone Etiquette

Telephone Etiquette

Be Prepared

  • Always have a pen and paper at every telephone.
  • It is wise to use full length paper and/or colored paper so that the message is noticeable (avoid using tiny notepads).
  • A frequently called number list and local telephone directory should also be kept handy for quick reference

Answer Professionally

  • Use the four answering courtesies:
    • Greet the caller
    • State your organization (or department)
    • Introduce yourself
    • Offer your help
  • Be enthusiastic when you answer.

    Help make the calling party feel welcome. A tired voice lacking in enthusiasm is unappealing.
  • When greeting the caller, use buffer words such as Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Thank you for calling.

          Example:      "Good Afternoon, Accounting, Mary Jones speaking, How may I help you?"

  • Rules about how to address the caller can be confusing because of the many options. The following may help:
    • Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., First Name, Sir, Ma'am
  • The average caller may or may not be sensitive about how he or she is addressed. To be on the safe side keep these suggestions in mind:
    • When addressing a male you are always correct to use Mr. or Sir.
    • Addressing a woman is more confusing. The use of Mrs. or Miss is common and generally acceptable. Some women prefer Ms. and may request this form of address. If you are not sure which salutation to use, simply ask the caller for her preference.
  • Often when you ask for the correct form of address the caller will suggest the use of a first name. The use of the caller's first name is then acceptable. Use of a first name may also be acceptable (but not always) when:
    • You have established a good rapport over a good period of time.
    • You have been called by your first name.
    • You know the caller, and know he/she is comfortable with a first name basis.

Putting A Caller On Hold

The #1 pet-peeve of callers is The Hold.  Consider the following examples:

  • "XYZ Company hold on." CLICK!
  • "Engineering hang on a second." CLICK!
  • "Accounting can you hold." CLICK!

Error:   They ordered the caller to hold. When placing a caller on hold you should always ask for permission and then wait for an answer.

YOU   "Good Morning XYZ Company this is your name."

CALLER   "Hello. I would like to speak with Mr. Jones please."

YOU   "I'll see if he is in, are you able to hold?"

If you have several callers on hold, remember the priority of each call. If necessary, make notes of who is holding on which line. Nothing is more irritating than answering the question "Who are you holding for?" several times.

Control The Conversation

Keep the caller on track.

If the conversation begins to sway, ask a related question to steer the caller back to the issue at hand.

Do not be afraid to use a direct approach.

Take Accurate Messages

  • When a co-worker is absent from the office, explaining his/her absence and taking accurate messages is important.
  • Explanation Of Absence
    • It's up to you to create a good image of the person for whom you are taking calls.
    • Statements like, "He's out to coffee", or "She hasn't come in yet" give the wrong impression.
    • Be tactful. Give a report such as "Mr. Anderson is away from his office. May I take your name and number?".
    • If possible, offer your assistance to the caller. "Mr. Anderson is away from the office, may I help you?", or "Perhaps Mr. Graham can help you, can I connect you with him?"
  • Taking Accurate Messages
    • The most important rule to remember when taking a message is Never Shorten the Message. Miscommunication is a result of improper message taking.
    • Consider this example...
      • Original message:  "Sorry, I'd like to attend the meeting but I am unable to. I'm at the hospital. My wife is having a baby. I will call tomorrow. Tim."

        Message taken:  "Unable to attend meeting. Will call. Tim."

        Take a message in its entirety and read it back to the caller to be sure that it is correct.
    • A good message should include:
      • Whom the message is for.
      • Caller's name.
      • Date and Time.


Avoid Mouth Noises

Refrain from the following activities while talking with a caller:

  • Smoking
  • Eating
  • Chewing Gum
  • Drinking

Remember, the mouthpiece on the telephone is a microphone (it amplifies). Also, leaning the telephone on your shoulder places the microphone by your neck making it difficult for the caller to hear you. Talk with your mouth, not your neck.

Give The Caller Your Undivided Attention

Avoid side conversations while talking on the telephone. Your party deserves your full attention. Do not attempt to carry on two conversations at the same time.

Keep in mind that speaking on the telephone requires better articulation than is necessary in face to face conversation.

Be Sincere

When you answer the telephone, you become your company's representative. The caller will judge your company by how well you treat him/her.

Show conviction!

Give Spoken Feedback Signals

Feedback signals include:

- OK, Yes, Good, Sure, Right, I see, I understand, We'll do that

Giving spoken feedback signals shows your caller that you are paying attention. He / She needs feedback because silence can be frustrating and misunderstood as disinterest.

Refrain from using only one word or phrase. A mixture of the feedback signals are suggested.

It is also a good idea to mirror back the caller's phrases to show that you are absorbing what he/she is saying.

Leave A Good Last Impression

Use valuable phrases like the following to close a conversation:

  • Thanks for calling
  • Please call again
  • We appreciate your call