Telephone Etiquette Tips


In the business world, it is incredibly important to convey a professional image, not only in person but on the telephone as well. Knowing how to take care of callers and providing them with accurate information is critical. While sounding professional when speaking on the telephone may seem like an easy concept, there is always room for improvement. Whether you are a receptionist, work in customer service, are an executive secretary, or hold some other job title, the following telephone etiquette tips will help you always convey a professional image when speaking to a customer.

  • It is important to speak clearly and slowly. Because the person on the other end of the phone cannot see your face or body language, it is necessary to convey your message through clear speech.
  • Some people have a tendency to be on the louder side when they speak. If that is the case, it is imperative that you tone down your voice so that the person on the other end of the line does not feel that they are being shouted at. Even if it is not your intention, a customer having the impression that you are raising your voice will not convey a professional image for your company.
  • When on the phone, you should never use slang. While it may be normal in everyday conversation, slang and other poor language conveys a very unprofessional message to the customer. You also never want to use swear words, regardless of how upset you may be.
  • If you are tasked with answering the phone, whether full time, or as coverage for someone else, it is important to not eat or drink while on phone duty. Wait for your break to grab a drink or something to eat. Customers do not want to hear you chomping in their ear.
  • While it may seem obvious, listen to what the person on the phone is saying. It is often a good idea to repeat the information back to the customer in the event that you need to take a message. This ensures that you are taking down the proper message so it can be passed along to the correct coworker.
  • When speaking to someone on the phone, especially if they are not someone you know, it is important to use the proper title when addressing the person. For instance, Mrs., Mr., Dr., etc. are appropriate. You never want to address a caller by their first name unless you have been given permission to do so.
  • People will often contact a business when they are unhappy about something. It is incredibly important to have patience and be as helpful as possible when you have an upset customer on the phone. Try your best to provide them with the appropriate resources to remedy their issue and never, ever act in a rude manner towards the customer.
  • Especially for those that work in a busy, fast paced office setting, it can be difficult to keep your concentration. When speaking to someone on the phone, you need to remain focused on the call as opposed to what is going on around you. If a coworker tries to interrupt your call, make it clear you are on the phone and will be with them as soon as the call is over.
  • If you are responsible for answering multiple calls, it will be necessary to place people on hold. Before placing a customer on hold, you should always politely ask if you may place them on hold. Once a customer is placed on hold, you should try to answer their call as soon as possible. Ideally, customers should not be placed on hold for more than a few seconds, as they may become annoyed and hang up.

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There are lots of tips that can be utilized to convey a more professional image over the telephone in addition to the ones listed above. Staying patient, providing correct information, and sounding happy will really improve your phone skills. While the person on the phone may not be able to see you, if you smile, it will be conveyed in the tone of your voice and you will come across as pleasant and professional.

Additional Resources

To learn more about phone etiquette, consult the following websites.

Proper Telephone Etiquette
Phone Etiquette Rules
Telecommunications and Phone Etiquette
Proper Business Telephone Etiquette
Phone Etiquette For Small Businesses
Your Telephone Speaking Voice
12 Tips For Better Telephone Meetings

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