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10+2 tips for answering phone calls professionally

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The telephone remains the first point of contact for most of the businesses. The voice of a company representative has to instil confidence in callers, as the way a call is answered often forms the first impression of a company. And these first couple of minutes could determine the entire provider-customer relationship, and be the difference between making profit and blundering an opportunity. Answering the phone is a serious matter where details count, so here are a few tips to consider and polish your phone image.

Learn how to answer your phone professionaly. Or opt for a telephone answering service instead

1. Don’t let the phone ring more than 2-3 times before you answer

This is the very beginning of the conversation, even though you haven’t even picked up the phone yet. You need to calculate the exact time to answer. Picking up immediately is something the caller doesn’t expect and they might be caught unprepared. Similarly, being too slow to answer could unnerve the other party. This is why it is recommended to let the phone ring 2-3 times before you answer. It will give both of you the time to get ready for the upcoming conversation. Put a smile on your face and off you go.

2. Keep the greeting short and informative

Being armed with loads of enthusiasm, make sure you introduce yourself promptly. The best formula for this would be: Good morning (afternoon) + your name + the department or company you are working for. You have two jobs here: first, to relax your caller with the warmth in your voice; second, to let them know whether they've reached their intended destination.

3. Speak slowly and clearly

Having already advised you to smile and be energetic when taking a call, it is time to elaborate on this. While leading the conversation you must speak slowly and clearly. You don’t want your customer to constantly ask you to repeat what you have said. The clarity of your speaking will save both parties’ valuable business time.

4. Don’t get distracted by other people! Focus on the call!

As we have already outlined in our introduction, business phone conversations are a serious matter and require 100% concentration. Phone calls lead to sales and that’s what you are working for so approach every call with extra care. This means to isolate yourself from outside distractions and direct your whole attention to the ongoing interaction with the customer.

5. Don’t interrupt callers! Listen to their reasons for calling

Every business person knows that customer’s needs come first. You have to do your best to understand what the caller wants, so be obedient. Interrupting is not only rude but will damage your company reputation, too. Listen to what they have to tell you and act accordingly.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat and always double-check important information

Not being able to grasp what the person on the other side of the line is saying, happens all the time. You don’t have to be afraid or ashamed to ask if you have missed something. The caller will understand and this is the preferred scenario unlike failing to write down the accurate name of the caller or any other significant information. In relation to the latter, always double-check the important details you exchange with your caller. You don’t want to write down “Stephen” in official correspondence when the name really is Steven.

7. Avoid using slang and fillers

You know that, eh? Nuancing your speech with slang words and fillers is a bigger problem than you might be playing up. We often use expressions like “you know”, “um”, “like”, “mate” but those have no place in our business conversations. The abovementioned “eh” falls in the same category. It is out of question that you should stay business-minded at all times and not let fillers creep into your speech. You are expected to prove your 100%-professional nature to the person you are conversing with. This should get them in the right mood of the talk and you can have a meaningful conversation.

8. Be polite when making arrangements

Politeness is key to having your business dressed beautifully in the customer’s mind. Taking this into consideration, you should ask polite questions when making arrangements. “Shall we…?”, “How about…?”, “Would…work for you?” are all helpful expressions when you structure your questions. Asking them will make you sound professional and fully concerned with the client’s availability and convenience.

9. Say when you are going to call back, if necessary

It might occur that you have to make a call back within a determined period of time. It is advisable that you set the time frame and keep your promise. It could be frustrating for the client when they don’t get the call in the agreed time period, so beware. Moreover, showing capability of staying true to your word builds up to your reputation. It is a good idea to ring the client in one business day.

10. End the call with a positive statement

With the call coming to its inevitable end, you should finish with a positive statement and a cheerful gratitude for having had the conversation. “Thanks for calling, Mr. Jones. Have a nice day!” will wrap it nicely.

Aside from the 10 tips on how to conduct a business conversation, we would like to add two more suggestions. These deal with the skills you are encouraged to teach your employees, so they can deliver better customer service and maintain the brand’s positive image.

1. Train everyone else who answers the phone to answer it the same way as you

It is recommended to everyone working in a company or a family business to learn to answer the phone in the same manner as everyone else. The synchronicity leaves no room for unwanted mistakes in call handling and is unlikely to disrupt the customer’s experience with your business.

2. Cross-train call handlers to answer cross-departmental queries

In addition to the previous point, it would be wise if you taught your call handlers to manage cross-departmental queries. This can reduce call queues significantly and will also ease the customer experience, as the caller will be served efficiently and without delay. It is always good to teach your staff versatility, it all adds to the quality of services you offer.

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