Proper Phone Etiquette in the Workplace

by Faizah Imani

    Whether you work in an office or call center, there is a right and wrong way to talk on the workplace telephone. When answering the phone, you become the face of the company. How you handle the call from start to finish will leave a neutral, good or bad taste in the customer's mouth. If the call leaves a bad taste in the customer's mouth, you may lose his business. For this reason, it is best to make sure each call received is handled with excellence.

    When answering the telephone at work, it is important to use a professional greeting. Don't act like customers have to call you. Thank them for calling. Instead of using a simple “Hello,” brand the call using the company's name. Branding the call serves two purposes. Firstly, it lets a customer know he dialed the right number. Secondly, it prevents your company from appearing unprofessional and amateurish. Include your name at the beginning of the call and ask the customer how you can assist him. Your first name is sufficient. Giving your name makes the call personable and friendly. An example of a professional greeting is, “Thank you for calling ABC company. This is Jane. How may I assist you?”

    When talking on the telephone, it's easy to sound bored, dry and monotone. To prevent this, add a smile to your voice. Adding a smile to your voice makes you sound happy and upbeat, excited to speak with the customer. Adding a smile to your voice is simple -- just put a smile on your face as you speak. When you put a smile on your face, the smile comes through in your voice. Be mindful of your language when speaking on the phone. Enunciate your words clearly. Avoid using slang and words such as “yeah” and “naw.”

    When talking on the telephone, it is often necessary to place the customer on hold. You may need to place the customer on hold so you can contact another department or transfer the call. Many customers hate being placed on hold, especially if there was a long hold time getting to you in the first place. Before placing the customer on hold, ask for permission. For instance, “Mr. John, do you mind if I place you on hold?” If you place the customer on hold, make it brief, no longer than two minutes. If the hold is longer than two minutes, refresh the customer to let him know what's going on.

    Closing the call gives you one final opportunity to make a good impression on the customer. Although you thanked the customer for calling during the call greeting, thank him again during the closing. Ask if there is anything else you can assist him with. This makes the customer feel appreciated versus feeling like he is bugging you. Wait for the customer to release the call before hanging up. This prevents you from accidentally hanging up on the customer.

    About the Author

    Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and "Truth & Church Magazine." Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.

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