Correct customer service phone etiquette

Adam Alred • 10 Dec 2022 • 4 min read

Despite the rise of social media messaging and Live Chat Services, communication by phone is still as popular as ever – especially in the United States – and it’s likely to stay that way for some time. 

This is especially true when it comes to customer service, as customers want to know their issues are being addressed immediately and by someone who actually knows what they’re doing – rather than their problem being shuffled higher up the chain of command or given to a robot answering machine. 

However, this also means that it’s crucial for businesses to have a professional phone etiquette policy and procedure in place to ensure each employee knows how to speak when picking up the phone, and that each customer gets the best experience possible. 

Naturally, there’s an art to providing good customer service over the phone, but it’s one that’s fairly simple to learn. That’s why we’ve shared our top tips for how to answer business calls and correct customer service phone etiquette below. 

Essential tips for how to answer business calls properly 

When it comes to answering business calls, there are a variety of things you can do to make it clear to customers that you value their time. We recommend implementing all of the following tips below when answering business calls: 

  • Answer promptly – as a receptionist, it’s vital that you answer the phone by the third ring. This shows that you value and respect the caller’s time, putting them in a more agreeable mood for the call. 
  • Offer a polite greeting – as a business, you need to do more than say hello when answering calls, which is why you should have a standard and polite greeting in place that all staff can refer to. At a minimum, you should say the name of the business and ask how you can help the caller. It’s also a good idea to include your own name so that the caller knows their speaking to a person. 
  • Smile – even though the person on the other end of the line can’t see you, when you smile, the tone of your voice naturally changes to sound more upbeat, helping to lighten the mood of the call. 
  • Use simple, professional language – a core element of professional phone etiquette revolves around the use of professional but simple language. Too much slang or jargon can be confusing for customers, so, if you can, try to avoid using these. On top of this, try to avoid filler words like ‘um’ and ‘erm’ when possible, as this can make you appear unprofessional. 
  • Ask for permission to hold – nobody likes being put on hold, which is why you should only ever do it when absolutely necessary. And if you do have to put someone on hold, the best thing you can do is to ask their permission before doing so. This shows a clear respect for their time and can go a long way towards making the customer interaction calmer. 
  • Take notes – in some cases, it might be necessary to transfer a caller to a more senior member of staff. This is why making notes is so important, as your colleagues can pick up right where you left off without having to ask the customer to repeat information. 
  • End positively – end the phone call on a positive note by wishing the customer well or by thanking them for their time. This makes customers feel more positive about the call and the business as a whole, so they may be more comfortable doing business with you in the future or calling to make other requests. 

Other useful tips on how to answer a business call 

While the points we’ve discussed above are all essential things to do when answering business calls regularly, there are also several other tactics you can implement if your position allows. 

Below are our top situational professional phone etiquette tips that you could consider trying out: 

  • Find a quiet environment – if possible, before answering a call, you should try to make your environment as quiet as possible. Answering your phone in a loud and busy area can make it difficult for your caller to hear you, or vice versa, which can cause them to be frustrated by the experience. 
  • Set up a professional voicemail – in the case that you’re unable to answer a phone call directly, it’s always smart to have a professional voicemail in place. This should be short, welcoming, and give instructions on what information a customer should leave, allowing them to wrap the call up promptly and make it easy for you to call them back. 

Outsource your call services with VoiceNation 

So, now you should have a much better idea of the best ways to answer business phone calls. However, we also know that it’s not always possible to pick up every call that comes in, which is why you might want to invest in a service like VoiceNation. 

Our Virtual Receptionists and Live Answering Service team are on hand to pick up any and all calls that come through, no matter the time of day, meaning you can focus your attention on more immediate matters. 

Get in touch with our team to learn more about our pricing and free trial period, and don’t forget that we have plenty more articles like this one over on our blog, including pieces on avoiding putting customers on hold, live answering solutions for the service industry, and how to avoid phone scams. 

By Adam Alred

VP of IT @ VoiceNation