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Telephone Etiquette Tips, What Do You Say After Hello?

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Telephone etiquette is so important in today’s business world.  Even though so much business is conducted via the internet, we all still use telephones at our places of work. 

Have you ever been telephone mystery shopped and had an opportunity to hear how your telephone at your office or organization is answered?  It’s very enlightening and beneficial.  I suggest periodically calling in and hear what others may be hearing when they call.

What you may find is regardless of the time of day; often there are signs of an overall lack of interest in handling incoming telephone calls. Someone may sound as if they are bothered by the interruption of the telephone ringing. Lack of enunciation and mumbling the company name is not unusual too.    Yet these people are projecting the first impression of your company or your department. Their lack of enthusiasm is part of your company’s image.

Good telephone skills are not a one-time training exercise. We tend to expect new personnel to simply get it right and expect seasoned employees to keep doing it right correctly.  Often people fail to provide adequate refresher instructions.        

Here is some basic telephone etiquette worth remembering:

Telephones need to be answered projecting a caring, interested attitude and with enthusiasm.  Telephones need to be answered within 2-3 rings.   

Some companies have a small mirror arranged next to phones to help serve as a reminder to answer with a smile.  Since a smile is seen over the telephone despite being invisible this helps in projecting a cheerful smile. You may want to consider placing a mirror by your phone or a sticky note that says “smile.”

It’s also helpful to refer to those who answer telephones as ‘directors of first impressions.’  This title explains how valuable they are in helping to create the image of a company/organization. Telephone calls are integral to a company image and brand. 

While it’s not necessary to use “good morning” as a greeting; it’s important that the organization be identified as well as the person answering the telephone.  

Another tip is to learn if incoming calls are effectively transferred.  We’ve gone down the road of automation and you punch in the line of the person within a company you are trying to reach.  But if that person is away from their desk; a next step needs to be instituted. People want to connect with a live person not voice mail.  

Also, left messages should be promptly returned the same day.  If you are unavailable; can someone else handle calls or at least let a caller know their message has been heard?     It’s so frustrating to play telephone tag.  If you are using voice mail, let a person know to leave a best time to call back.  If someone else is taking your calls, they should be able to say when you are expected and when you will be returning calls that day.

Everyone needs to be reminded how much professionalism matters on the phone.  And don’t get annoyed when the phone rings, without those callers, we’d be out of a job!  

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