Answering the telephone is a very important task in any organization.As an employee of an organization, it is your responsibility to provide good customer service to both customers who visit the office in person and to those customers who wish to conduct business over the telephone.

There are five parts to any telephone call:

  1. Effective telephone greeting
    1. Salutation - "Good morning!"
    2. Identification - "___(name of office)______, this is ______."
    3. Solicitation - " How may I help you?"
  2. Be prepared to listen
    1. While you are listening, write down the following information:
    2. The caller's name
    3. Their reason for calling
    4. With whom they would like to speak
  3. Prepare the caller to be placed on hold or to be transferred
    1. Say, "One moment please, and I'll check to see if someone is available to assist you."
    2. Or, "One moment please, I'll check to see if Mr. Jones is available to take your call."
    3. Or, "I'm sorry, no one is available to take your call right now, could I take a message and have someone return your call as soon as possible?"
    4. Or, "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones is not available at the moment, could I take a message and have him return your call upon his return?" (Note: If you know that Mr. Jones is not returning today, please indicate this to the caller. Ex: "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones will be out of the office until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Could I take a message and have him return your call tomorrow?")
    5. After having the caller on hold, be sure to thank them for holding before you continue with the next step of the process.
    6. Say, "Hello Mrs. Smith, thank you for holding. I am going to transfer your call to Mr. Jones, one moment please." If the caller thanks you, be sure to tell them, "You're welcome."
  4. If you are taking a message for someone, be certain to obtain correct information
    1. Caller's name (first and last) with the correct spelling. If it is a name you are not familiar with, ask the caller to spell it for you. "Could you spell that for me please?"
    2. Caller's telephone number. Repeat it back to the caller to make sure you have recorded it correctly. Be sure to obtain the area code.
    3. Company name, or if on campus, the department name.
    4. Detailed message. If the caller does not offer to tell you why they are calling, ask, "May I ask what this is in reference to, or will Mr. Jones know?" If they choose not to leave a message, that is okay. Just indicate this on the phone message pad for Mr. Jones. (Ex: Mrs. Smith did not wish to leave a message.)
  5. End your phone conversation
    1. Let the caller know that you have recordedhis/her information and that you will get it to the proper authority. "Thank you. I will see that Mr. Jones receives your message."
    2. Immediately take the phone message to its proper location within the office so that Mr. Jones will find it upon his return.

Additional Phone Tips

  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Pleasant tone.
  • Put a smile in your voice.
  • Express energy!
  • Volume: not too soft or too loud.
  • Let the caller speak. Do not interrupt.
  • Irate callers have a reason for calling. Listen to their concerns, empathize with them without cutting down your office or any employee or supervisor ("I understand" or "I'm sorry it has been frustrating"), and get them the assistance they need.
  • Sometimes the answer is not always what the caller wants to hear. However, the tone of your voice can deliver the message in a more understanding manner.
  • Rude callers should be directed to your supervisor in the same manner that polite callers are...with kindness and understanding.
  • Never give an "I don't know" answer. Try to "wow" your caller and take the initiative to find out who can help them or take a message indicating you will do your best to track down someone who can return the call and help them.
  • Remember, a caller doesn't know what he or she doesn't know.
  • Before picking up the phone, stop what you are doing, sit up straight, take a deep breath and smile! A positive attitude will emerge.
  • No matter how badly your day is going, never let the caller know. Always be pleasant to your customers.
  • Give the caller your undivided attention.
  • Answer by the third ring.
  • Treat the caller with respect.
  • Don't eat or drink while talking on the telephone.
  • Always place the caller on hold before talking to someone else in the office. Never place your hand over the receiver to block out background noises. This does NOT work.
  • Do not keep callers on hold for more than a few seconds. Request their number and offer to have someone return their call.
  • Before transferring a call to another office, give the caller the phone number of the officein which you are calling. In case the transfer is unsuccessful, the caller candial direct.
  • Effective telephone skills are an important contribution to any organization. And once you have acquired these skills, you become an important contribution to your employer.