Telephone Etiquette at the Workplace

Last updated 11 Jun 2014 . 3 min read


The telephone is often the first point of contact a customer or client will have with a company, so it is very important that you make a good impression when answering the phone. There may be different styles and techniques needed in various kinds of jobs (especially phone-related ones), but all roles need us to follow some guidelines and etiquette.

Be prompt. Unless you are working in a busy call centre or on a switchboard, be as prompt as possible in answering the phone. Potential clients and many customers lead busy lives and if you take too long, they might take their business elsewhere.

Greetings and mood. We all have off days but the last thing a caller needs to hear is a sullen voice that gives the impression that you can’t be bothered talking. Be upbeat and positive when answering the phone. Smiling before you pick up the phone often helps. Always greet the caller according to the time of day and identify yourself with either a first name or first name and surname, unless your company has a strict “no name” policy. An example might be, “Good morning, Washington Tyres, Paul speaking. How can I help you?”

Be prepared. You never know how simple or complex the nature of call might be so it’s important that you’re prepared and know to handle the call. If you’re working on a busy switchboard, you’ll need to understand how to transfer calls internally and you should also keep a pen and pad handy so you can jot down details of the call as the caller may need you to take certain action on their behalf so it’s important that this is conveyed accurately. Information you could be looking to gather might include the caller’s name, company name (if applicable), time and date of call, reason for call and their contact details.

Putting callers on hold. People hate being put on hold although most of them do understand that it is sometimes inevitable. If you need to place a caller on hold for any reason, tell them why and ask them if they object to being placed on hold. Go back to the caller every minute or so, explain that you’re still trying to put them through to ‘X’ or get the information they need, and ask them if they would still like to be put back on hold.

Ending the call. Before ending the call, try to recap what you’ve discussed, if appropriate, and ask the caller if there is anything else you can help them with before saying ‘goodbye’ and hanging up. It’s also good practice to let the caller hang up before you do.

Passing on messages to colleagues. If you’ve been asked to pass a message on to a work colleague, always do so as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the more likely you will either forget to do so or will on incorrect details of the call.

Never chew gum or be eating when you’re answering the phone. It sounds extremely unprofessional to the person at the other end of the line. And do remember to speak slightly more slowly on the phone than you would if you were having a general face-to-face conversation.

Reproduced courtesy

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