7 Fundamentals of Professional Phone Etiquette

A woman wearing a headset while working on a laptop.

Editors Note: This article was originally published on May 9th, 2017. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The telephone is the first touchpoint people have with most businesses.

Even with the advances in technology, people prefer speaking with a live person to get answers or support. Businesses should not overlook how and who is answering phone calls.

Poor phone etiquette at work could harm the business. Technology allows people to share their experiences quickly with incredible reach. Especially when they use social media and other tools on the internet. For this reason, every phone interaction is critical.

This article outlines seven fundamentals of professional phone etiquette your employees need to practice.

Answer Calls Promptly

Every phone ring is equal to six seconds. Imagine if you let the phone ring five to six times.

Most people will not wait a long time on the phone. Long waits can create a negative experience for the person speaking to your business. It is recommended to answer a call on the second or third ring.

Also, experience has shown that if you answer the call to quickly, people tend to be caught off guard. You are making for an uncomfortable start to the conversation.

For when call volume spikes, use an overflow call forwarding system to a live answering service to answer your calls.

Four reasons to answer calls


Your Attitude Determines Your Customer’s Altitude

How an employee interacts with a caller is everything. The tone and demeanor of the staff will reflect their attitude. A positive attitude is fundamental to delivering a positive outcome. If an employee comes across as uninterested or rude, this can lead to a negative experience.

People work hard days and talk to many people. Remain polite and calm on every call. The goal of the call is to satisfy the needs of the caller and leaving them feeling good about your company.

A positive attitude is fundamental to delivering a positive outcome

Create a Personal Connection

A business can receive tens to thousands of calls every day. Each call allows your company to build a stronger connection with current and potential clients.

Start your call with a positive greeting, such as:

  • “Good Morning”
  • “Good Afternoon”
  • “Hello”

Then followed by a personal introduction with your name and organization. Asking for and using their name will also help in building a stronger personal connection.

Speak Clearly and Professionally

All communication should be clear and professional. Unclear communication makes for a rocky conversation.

Some companies use a telephone script for customer service.

From our experience, scripts tend to limit the ability to have spontaneous conversations that can build stronger relationships.

It is possible that you won’t know all the answers. Instead of saying you “don’t know,” tell them you will “check into it.”

Also, using vulgar or rude language is not acceptable. No matter how a caller speaks, an employee must remain professional always.

Active Listening is Everything

If we talk more and listen less, it becomes more challenging to meet expectations. To understand the needs of another requires that we listen.

We need to allow the caller to express their need. If there is any uncertainty, we can engage the caller to understand their request better.

You should not talk over the caller under any circumstances. Remaining calm and asking questions will show callers you are listening and you care about what they say.

The staff has to give 100% of their attention to the caller.

Eliminate background noise and any other distractions around them. These distractions can keep the employee from being fully engaged.

When managing calls, it is typically required to enter call details into a system. Distractions could cause inaccurate data entry which could lead to a series of problems.

Be Helpful

The purpose of managing calls is assisting callers with their needs. Remember, each call is an opportunity to build a relationship. We can do this by being helpful and working to deliver a positive customer experience.

We lose the chance to build deeper ties with customers if we push them off the phone.

Being helpful also involves what the caller does not hear. It is also about your actions.

For example, when taking messages, it is essential to have accurate information and deliver the message to the right person.

Another common mistake is when transferring calls. Some organizations will transfer the call without knowing if someone will pick up. I am leaving the caller to voice mail or worse, a busy tone.

Professional phone etiquette requires that you first confirm the person is available.

If they are:

  • You connect the call
  • Introduce the caller to the other staff member
  • Then politely say goodbye, and disconnect from the call.

If the person is not available, you can let them know and take a message if they like.

Proper Ending

Following professional phone etiquette, you want to confirm that you have helped the caller with everything they needed. There are instances where requests cannot be met, and it’s essential to communicate why. During these situations, it is necessary to remain warm and good-mannered.

It is helpful for both parties if you confirm their request, and then confirm the solution you provided.

Implement Professional Phone Etiquette

What needs to be clear is the role professional phone etiquette plays in your organization.

Like any communication channel, the phone can be used to create a positive and lasting relationship. Every call is a positive experience waiting to happen.

Spend time with staff to make sure they understand the importance of business telephone etiquette plays. Follow through on making sure customers are receiving the experience they deserve.

Finally, enjoy the rewards of using these telephone etiquette tips.

About Unicom Teleservices

Unicom has been a top answering service located in Chicago, Illinois.

Our professional live agents are available 24 / 7 / 365. We never close. For 25 years, Unicom has worked with companies large and small to discuss their needs. To understand their processes allows us to determine how we can deliver value.

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