Answering the phone is a part of everyday business no matter how small or large your company is.  It can also be the first point of contact for new business inquiries and on these occasions first impressions are crucial.  Provided below are some pointers to follow in order to ensure your colleagues and staff provide a professional and friendly reception to people who call your company.

Professional telephone answering services can be used to answer calls but if you wish to take calls yourself these useful guidelines may be handy:

Tips to Answering the Telephone

  1. 3 Rings – Ideally you should try to answer all calls within three rings.  People may wait longer but you don’t want to run the risk of them hanging up and calling your competitors.
  2. Company Name – Always announce the company name and your own name, so something like, “Thank you for calling Kendlebell, Mary speaking, how may I help you”?  By doing this you are confirming for them that they have dialled the correct number and they also know whom they are speaking to.
  3. Ask for their name and Use It – Make sure to ask the caller for their name as early as possible in the conversation and make sure to use their name once you have it.  This is important in making a connection with the person and it helps create a level of understanding.
  4. Clarify & Check Back – If taking a message call back the essential elements to ensure you have taken the details correctly.  Repeat back phone numbers in particular to ensure accuracy.
  5. Broken promises – Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  If you promise to return a call then make sure to do this even if you don’t have the information the person was looking for.  It is better to call them at the appointed time to advise you have been unable to get them what they were looking for than not to call them back at all.
  6. Active Listening – Once you answer a call you should be giving the call your undivided attention.  By doing this you will ensure that you take an accurate message and avoid any unnecessary confusion.
  7. On hold – If you need to put a caller on hold advise them that you are going to do this and explain the reason for doing so.  Do not leave the caller on hold for any longer than 1 minute.
  8. Reiterate the Message – When transferring a call to one of your colleagues give them all the information that the caller has given to you.  By doing so you will avoid unnecessary repetition for the caller.
  9. Voicemail – Make sure that if calls are going to voicemail out of hours that a personalised message has been recorded and if any voicemails are left that they are returned on the next working day.
  10. Mystery Shopper – It is worth asking a trusted friend to periodically call your company and ask them to give you objective feedback in relation to the customer service experience they received.

Following these guidelines will not only make you sound more professional on the phone; it will also boost your confidence. This is particularily important for people who are shy on the phone.