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Telephone Etiquette for Business Calls

Editorial Team
13/04/2017 7:13 AM

The telephone is probably one of the most important customer touch points. Every company should train its staff on telephone etiquette. There should be a clear and standard way of how employees use phones at your company. People are tarnishing good, professional, brands because of how they handle phone calls.
The rules of telephone etiquette apply to how you receive a phone call, how you make a phone call and how you manage a phone call.
I this article I want to highlight some telephone etiquette basics that at a minimum, all employees should observe, if you want to maintain a professional image of your company.

Rules around receiving a phone call  

  • Try to answer the phone on the second ring. There is nothing as frustrating as making a call and the phone takes “forever” to be answered. This rule applies when a phone rings at the front office (reception) and in the back offices. When a phone is ringing in your department and the person that is being called is not at their desk, the phone should not ring more than two times before it is answered.
  • Always answer with a friendly greeting. Smile - it shows, even through the phone.
  • Identify yourself and your organisation.
  • Ask the caller their name, even if their name is not necessary for the call, and use it!
  • Please never eat or chew gum while talking on the telephone (your caller may ask what you’re having for lunch!!)
  • Speak directly into the mouthpiece. If this is a problem because you use other equipment while on the telephone (i.e., computer), consider purchasing a headset, which will free your hands.
Proper telephone etiquette in a professional business setting begins by stating the company name first followed by a greeting and the name of the individual answering the call.

EXAMPLE:  “Industrial Psychology Consultants, good morning, this is Rudo”

If the organisation does not require the use of the company name in the greeting, the person answering the phone should identify themselves.

EXAMPLE:  “Good morning, Collin speaking” or “Collin Bhiza speaking”

If someone else is answering a phone other than their own, the proper etiquette is to answer with a greeting followed by the name of the person for whom the phone is being answered.

EXAMPLE:  Good afternoon, this is Grace’s office, how may I help you?”

There has been a lot of discussion of using “good morning” or “good afternoon.” This is unnecessary if you use the right tone. Also, people tend to make mistakes when using these phrases (for example, saying “good morning” when it’s really afternoon and vice versa)

Rules around managing a phone call

If someone walks into your office while you are talking on the telephone, ask the caller if you may put him/her on hold briefly). Depress the hold button.
In general, do not place the handset in the cradle until you have depressed the hold button. In addition, do not lay the receiver on the desk, without placing the caller on hold (the caller will hear everything being discussed in your office). When a person calls you, please do not put them on hold without telling them why you have put them on hold. This is the rationale: When you put me on hold with no explanation, you leave me hanging. I am not sure about what you are doing: Are you addressing what I have called to ask for? Is everything okay? Are you even still there, as in, have you not forgotten me?
Remember to ask your caller “Do you mind holding?” or “May I put you on hold?” before doing so. If you take the time to ask your caller to hold, be sure to listen to the response. After placing your caller on hold, check back periodically (between 30-45 seconds). Give them the option to continue to hold if it will take longer to find information OR offer to call them back. When returning to your caller, remember to thank them for waiting. If your caller cannot hold, offer to take a message; transfer to another party; or arrange for them to return the call at a specific time.
If you are not in a position to ask your caller to hold, tell the caller, “Please Hold” before depressing the hold button. Note: When placing multiple calls on hold, remember to return to the first caller you placed on hold first! Remember, whenever you put a person on hold, return to the caller and complete the call as soon as possible. It is not good manners to keep people waiting.
If you place someone on speaker phone, you should inform the individual that he or she is on speaker phone before continuing with a conversation.
With regards to how you handle the phone itself, keep the phone two-finger widths from your mouth. That way your voice will be clearer.
I will continue on this topic in my next article.
There is a lot to learn with regards to telephone etiquette, for example: What is the proper telephone language? How do you make a call? How do you transfer calls? How do you screen calls? How do you take messages? And how do you end a phone call.
Collin Bhiza is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or cell number 077 3033 748 or email: collin@ipcconsultants.com or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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