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Phone Etiquette for Business Calls

Telephones play a major part in the daily operations of many businesses, as you need them to call and contact employees, vendors, business associates, and more. Business phones are also valuable because they open the door for communications with customers. As important as the phone itself is, it is just as important that your business knows the difference between good and bad phone etiquette.


As a business, you must understand that how you interact with clients and business associates over the phone will either portray your company in a positive light or a negative one. In the hands of a poorly trained employee, manager, or business owner, telephone use can have an extremely negative effect on the business. For this reason, it is important that companies properly train their employees on good and bad phone practices.


The method that you choose to communicate should be appropriate to the audience, situation, and nature of the message that needs to be communicated. Often a call is the best way to communicate. Other times your task will be best accomplished with an instant message or SMS. And, even email sometimes is the way to go (though it is too often abused). When you do decide to use the telephone to communicate, make sure you follow the following set of do’s and don’ts because every call counts.


Want to come off like a pro every time on every channel? See our complete list of business communications etiquette tips >







  #1   When answering a business phone it is important that it is not allowed to ring more than three times. Advise employees that the second or third ring is the ideal time to pick up the telephone. 


  #2   The phone should be answered with a positive greeting such as “Hello,” “Good Morning,” or “Good Afternoon,” etc. Following the greeting, the person who answers the phone should give his or her name and the name of the business or organization that is being contacted. 


  #3   Put on a smile before placing or answering a phone call. When a person smiles it affects the sound of his or her voice, giving it a more pleasant and friendly tone. For clarity, the telephone should be held a distance of two fingers from the mouth.


  #4   Speak in a clear tone using a voice that is neither too loud nor too low. Words should be enunciated and said slow enough that people are able to understand what is being said to them.


  #5   If someone must be put on hold, ask for permission first, and give him or her the option to leave a voicemail message. When taking them off of hold thank the caller to show that their time is respected.

  #6   When a caller is speaking, listen to what he or she has to say without interruptions.


  #7   When placing a call a person should always state his or her name before asking for the person that the call is for.


  #8   Always return phone calls if a return call has been promised. If a time frame was given the caller must make every attempt to return the phone call as quickly as possible within that frame.


  #9   If it is necessary to transfer a call, inform the person on the other end before doing so. It is also important to explain the need for the transfer.


  #10   Before transferring a call, confirm that the person to whom the call is being transferred is available. This person’s name should be given to the party who is being transferred.







  #1   If a person is answering the telephone, he or she should never answer on the first ring. Callers do not expect this and will be taken off guard.


  #2   Don’t answer the phone when eating, chewing, or drinking. If a person has anything in his or her mouth it should be swallowed or removed before picking up the phone to either answer it or place a call.


  #3   If you must leave the phone, never leave the line open. Instead, place the person on hold and check back with him or her frequently – preferably every 45 seconds.


  #4   Never say the words, “I don’t know” when talking with someone on the phone. The ideal response to a question where there is not a definite answer is to say “I’ll check on that for you.”


  #5   When talking to a client or a customer never say anything that can be taken as rudeness. The person who answers the phone should always talk to the caller in the way that he or she would like someone to speak to them.

  #6   A person should never use slang when speaking to a caller. Swear words should also never be used and may be illegal under certain circumstances, according to Federal law.


  #7   It is never acceptable to argue with a caller.


  #8   Do not transfer a call without informing the person on the phone and asking permission to do so.


  #9   When ending a phone call, do not hang up the phone without a positive closure such as “Thank you for calling,” or “Have a Good Day.”

The Importance of Business Phone Etiquette

Good business phone etiquette is vital. It’s often the initial communication point between you and your customers that forms a first impression, and it can help boost customer loyalty. Answering calls swiftly and taking messages displays competency, and lets your customers feel cared for. Listening attentively before responding conveys patience and authenticity; which improves customer relationships. Asking the right questions forms part of good phone call etiquette too, and helps you ascertain whether or not your customers are satisfied.


The Risks of Poor Business Phone Etiquette

Customers often hang up when their calls are not answered rapidly, sending them to your competitors instead. When a customer calls and you don’t take a message if the person they’re looking for is unavailable, you may lose the customer. Not answering politely with a proper greeting displays bad business phone etiquette, and may discourage callers from conducting business with you. Ending calls prematurely is also bad phone call etiquette, potentially leading to disgruntled customers. If you are unable to speak for the duration of the call, request a convenient call-back time from the customer instead.


How Business Phone Etiquette Impacts Revenue

Satisfied customers often spread the news about great customer service via word-of-mouth, which could lead to more business for you. Alternatively, if they've experienced bad service, they may share that experience and hinder your profits. Your business may also receive either good or bad customer service reviews on social media or online. Negative online publicity could damage your company’s reputation, and you could lose both current and prospective customers, thus hindering your revenue. In fact, continuous bad business phone etiquette could lead to a business shut down. Good online publicity is similar to effective advertising. It attracts new business opportunities and customers, and bolsters business and revenue from existing customers.

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