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How Do You Answer the Phone Professionally?

Customer Service, Phone Answering

January 25, 2023

Phone etiquette is an integral part of our existence. Not just for business, but for day-to-day life. The Focus team has been answering calls for multiple industries for decades, and we still field the same question over and over again: “How do you answer the phone professionally?”

First, it’s not rocket science. But it is a craft that follows a distinct set of standards and guidelines that take time and patience to master.

Here are four great tips to help guide your on-site crew when the phones begin to ring – and one big recommendation that will help to make the New Year a successful one for your company:

  1. Don’t drag your feet. Promptness is paramount. Period. That’s a lot of P’s, and here’s another: Pick up! The longstanding belief is that your customers will move on to speedier options after a fourth ring (unless they’re ordering something or, God forbid, are having an emergency). But swift should always be your goal because word of poor customer service (i.e., a business that lets its phones ring off the hook) travels fast.
  2. Callers CAN hear you smile: It may seem like a silly thing to say, but the biggest mistake many amateurs make when answering calls is believing that body language doesn’t matter. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When you use an expressive and light-hearted tone of voice, you can’t help but smile, which is conveyed to your caller and starts things off on a good note.
  3. Callers CAN’T understand you when you mumble. Man, this is a sticking point. Indifference and apathy, unfortunately, run rampant in retail, with uninterested clerks and cashiers answering phones with a blasé “hello,” before mumbling their way through a halfhearted – if that – attempt at service. Don’t be this person. On the other hand, new hires may rush through their introduction due to inexperience and/or nervous energy. So, how do you answer the phone professionally? Take your time. Enunciate your words. And be receptive and courteous if someone should ask you to repeat yourself.
  4. Cordiality covers a great deal: So, be friendly. Always confirm details and repeat phone numbers that your callers provide. Address callers by name when possible (and ensure those spellings for the message’s intended recipient). Don’t interrupt, but follow up at the end of the conversation to see if your caller has any additional questions. If you MUST put a caller on hold, don’t slam them without any acknowledgment whatsoever. Make the request politely and show them that you value their time.
  5. BONUS TIP: Bring an answering service onboard. Whether you need assistance fielding calls throughout the day – or just want a helping hand after hours, Focus is on the job. We know the answer to the question: “How do you answer the telephone professionally?” Our leadership team wrote the book on telephone answering service protocol. Our conversational scripting is always custom-tailored to your business and its policies to deliver the most authentic experience for your customers. Most importantly, our talented, trained, and compassionate agents are adept at blending punctuality, enthusiasm, and action to get results for you – and your callers.

Questions? Talk to a Focus team member today to learn more.