Communication Skills

Basics Of Phone Etiquette


Most of it is common sense stuff: Be prepared (why are you calling, who do you want to speak to, and are you calling at the right time?), be polite/friendly/courteous to whoever picks the phone, establish rapport (mirroring, common ground/common interests etc) and so on.


1. Speak slowly, clearly and come to the point quickly. respect their time. Watch your tone of voice. Come off as calm and polite.


2. A sample call: State your name and company/department and say why you are calling. Ask clear questions and spell out difficult names and repeat contact numbers. Politely ask if it suits the person to talk to you. If they say they can talk if it is quick, tell them honestly how quick the call will be. Never end a call abruptly. If you are having difficulty ending a call, simply say you have to dash to a meeting and thank the person for their time. Always return calls promptly.


3. Answering the phone: Don’t let a telephone ring more than call or do not have the information three times before answering. Say something like ‘Good morning/afternoon, John Connor speaking’. You can also state your company or department name but be brief. Say ‘This is John Connor’, never ‘My name is John Connor’. If the call was to reach at a decision, Make sure you both understand what decisions were made (if any). Finish off the call with a quick summary of what both of you decided and what each one of you must do by when.


4. Answering the phone for someone else: Refer to the person by saying ‘Hello, John Connor’s line, Sarah Connor speaking.’


5. Transferring calls: Let the caller know you have to transfer them to someone else. Explain why and to whom they are being transferred. Always stay with the call until you have connected the caller to someone who can help. Explain what the caller has explained to you before putting the call through to someone else. This avoids the caller having to repeat everything again. Of course, you need to learn how to transfer calls. Ask people who know the office phone system. Also how long they may have to hold and never leave a caller holding for more than 3 minutes.


6. Explaining unavailability: Let the caller know the availability of the person they wish to speak to before asking their name so they do not feel as if you are screening them.


7. Explain your colleague’s absence in a positive and professional light. Never divulge personal information (e.g. ‘They have taken the day off for sightseeing’). Don't be vague and say they are ‘busy’ or ‘unavailable’. Don't use the same excuse/s (‘They are in a meeting’). If you have to say that they are not at their desk, or are with someone, try to give an idea of when they should be available.


8. Be helpful: Offer to help the person yourself ('I can call you later and get someone to call you when Person X is available') or to transfer them to someone who can help. Offer to let them stay on line but be realistic about . Let them know what is happening and ask them if they wish to continue holding. Always thank callers for holding after returning to the line.


9. Taking messages: Note the date and time of the call, the caller’s name (make sure it is spelt correctly) and contact details (phone number including area code) and the reason for the call. Read it back to the caller to make sure they are correct. Never ask the caller to call back.


10. Leaving voice messages: Structure your message, and keep it brief and natural.

- Introduction (Your name and/or company) , who you are calling (if there was no personal greeting), where you got their name and number (if this is your first call), the time of the call (e.g. 11 o’clock, Monday morning) and the date if you think that the person does not listen to their voicemail everyday.

- Purpose of call: Briefly state why you are calling, and say you will send an email with the details (if it is a complicated message).

- Follow-up. Briefly state that the next steps are (e.g. Will you call them, or do you want them to call you back?) at the end of the message. How urgent it is. Your telephone number. And repeat your phone number ('I repeat...')


If it is going to be a long and complex message and you require to send a second message, tell them beforehand, 'This is the first of two voice messages I am leaving you’, Or, you may continue from the first message, 'This is a continuation voicemail, from John Connor regarding the next attack on Skynet’.


At the end, listen to the message and ensure it is easy to follow. If not, re-record it.


Recording voicemail greetings: Keep it brief, stating clearly what you want people to do, and update it often. Start with a quick (sometimes interesting) introduction, (e.g. ‘You have reached the voicemail of John Connor. I’m sorry I can’t take your call now, but please leave your name, number and a brief message after the beep and I will get back to you’).


Also let them know how often and when you will check the messages, mentioning an alternate number/email id for emergencies.


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