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Proper Etiquette on the Telephone: How to Handle 3 Common Situations on the Phone

When you meet someone for the first time, you take great care to make a good first impression. The same should be true when you “meet” someone over the phone. When prospective customers and clients call for the first time, they will judge you and your organization based on the impression you make when you take and handle their calls. Do you know what to say and do during these 3 common situations on the telephone?

1. Answering the phone politely

The way that you answer the telephone says a lot about you. Your voice and attitude create the first impression the caller receives – make sure it’s a good one. Before you pick up the phone make sure that there is a smile on your face. Believe me, you can hear a smile! You should sound friendly and welcoming on the phone even when you’re having a terrible day.

What you should say when you answer the phone at work depends on your position in the telephone chain. Let’s look at a few different scenarios:

Switchboard operator

“Good morning. Acme Co. How may I direct your call?”


“Good morning. Acme Co. This is Jane. How may I help you?”

Answering a transferred call from an internal line (This means that the caller already knows they’ve reached the right company and you are the person they want to speak with.)

“Hello. This is Jane.”

Or if you’ve been told who the caller is and it’s someone you know:

“Hello, John!” and begin your conversation

If it’s someone you don’t know:

“Good morning, Mr. Smith. This is Jane. How can I help you?”

Answering your direct line (an outside call)

“Good morning, Acme Co. This is Jane.”

2. Transferring calls

When you are not the person the caller wants to speak with, politely transfer them to the correct person.

The proper way to transfer a call:

“Could I speak with Ms. Smith, please?”

“Of course. May I ask who’s calling, please?”

“Mr. Jones from Acme Co.”

“Thank you. One moment, please.”

If someone has reached you or your department by mistake, kindly transfer them and offer them information on how they can better reach that person next time (if this is allowed and is appropriate).

“I’m sorry. You’ve actually reached the wrong department for that query. Let me transfer you to Ms. Smith in Human Resources. If you’d like to reach her directly next time, her extension is 3456.”

3. Taking messages

Sometimes I’m amazed by the things people tell me when I call a company to speak with someone. I hear everything from “He’s out,” with no explanation, to “He’s on the toilet.” That’s a little more information than I needed! The proper response when someone is unavailable to speak is some variation of the following:

“I’m sorry but she’s away from her desk. Can I help you, or would you like to leave a message?”

“I’m sorry but she’s unavailable at the moment. Would you like to try calling back in about 10 minutes or would you like to leave a message?”

“I’m sorry, but she’s not in the office today. Could I take a message, and I’ll have her return your call tomorrow?”

You may have noticed by now that considerate and polite communication can be a bit long-winded. That’s OK. The extra three seconds you use to say these sentences instead of just blurting, “He’s out,” really make the difference when it comes to making a positive impression over the phone.

Source by Heather Hansen

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