Business phone etiquette is an important part of your company’s operation. Whether you work in a fast paced business environment or a small, personable environment where you only take a few phone calls a day.
The way employees carry themselves on the telephone directly impacts the company’s reputation and reflects the overall quality and service of the business. Many employees make the mistake of thinking a phone impression doesn’t matter, but that is simply not the case.
When you are the face—or in this case, the voice—of a company, you are automatically guilty by association. If your business phone etiquette is poor, then the client on the other end of the line will most likely associate your lack of professionalism with the company itself, possibly indefinitely. You certainly can’t afford to take that risk, especially when your reputation is on the line.
That being said, it helps to be familiar with telephone etiquette from the get-go. Whatever your current circumstance, acquaint yourself with some of these basic practices.
Answering and Making Telephone Calls
- Gently pick up the phone and be sure to speak clearly.
- Use proper English and do not use any slang or informal speech. Ask for the caller’s name, and address them formally by using their proper title.
During the Call
- Listen carefully to what the caller has to say, and don’t be afraid to politely ask them to repeat what they said if the message was unclear.
- Focus on the essentials—what the caller needs, what they require, how to reach them if you get disconnected, and most importantly, their name. Be very particular and get straight to the point, but remember to be patient.
- Speak calmly and politely and always ask permission before you put the caller on hold or make a transfer.
- Address the caller by their name again as you thank them for their time.
- Briefly summarize the purpose of the call so that they know you listened and understood what they were calling about.
- Hang up the phone gently so you do not create a loud sound on the other end of the receiver.
- When making a call, contact information is crucial. Immediately greet the client and state your reason for calling.
- If the client is busy and cannot talk, confirm the reason for your call and politely arrange a better time to call back. Don’t forget to leave your phone number.
- When leaving a message, provide the same aforementioned contact information. Keep the message short and simple, and repeat your phone number twice for convenience.
Along with these basic business phone etiquette practices, don’t forget to be helpful and courteous. If you cannot answer a question, assure the caller you will ask someone who does know the answer. If necessary, ask as many questions as possible to find a solution for the caller’s needs. Also, although it may sound obvious, remember to never speak on the phone when you are eating or drinking. No one wants to hear you chomping on that cheeseburger or slurping your drink!
Think of the same manners you would practice when you meet someone new for the first time. Keep this business phone etiquette in mind, and you will be on your way to a smoother, more professional telephone conversation in no time.