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Phone answering skills are critical for any successful business. The phone is still most business’s primary point of contact with customers. The way you answer your company’s phone will form customer’s first impression of your business. Here are the basic steps to properly answer the phone and win new business while keeping your existing clients!

  1. Answer all incoming calls before the third ring.
  2. When you answer the phone, be warm and enthusiastic. Your voice on the phone is sometimes the only impression of your company a caller will get. Smile while on the phone, it helps keep an upbeat intonation as you speak.
  3. When answering the phone, welcome callers courteously and identify yourself and your company. Say, for instance, “Good Morning, Turner’s Total Communications. Shavonda speaking. How may I help you?” No one should ever have to ask if they’ve reached such and such business.
  4. Enunciate clearly, keep your voice volume moderate, and speak slowly and clearly when answering the phone, this will ensure callers can understand you easily.
  5. Control your language when answering the phone. Do not use buzzwords. Instead of saying, “OK”, or “No problem”, for instance, say, “Certainly”, “Very Well”, or “All Right”. If you’re a person who uses fillers when speaking, such as “uh huh”, or “um”, or phrases such as “like” or “you know”, train yourself carefully not to use these when you speak on the phone.
  6. Train your voice and vocabulary to be positive when phone answering, even on a “down” day. For example, rather than saying, “I don’t know”, say, “Let me find that information for you”.
  7. Take a phone message completely and accurately. If there’s something you don’t understand or can’t spell, such as a person’s surname, ask the callers to repeat it or spell it for you. Then make sure the message gets to the intended recipient.
  8. Return all of your calls within one business day. We cannot emphasize this one enough. Remember the early bird? The early caller can get the contract, the sale, and the problem solved….and reinforce the favorable impression of your business that you want to circulate.
  9. Always ask the caller if it is all right to place them on hold when answering the phone, and don’t leave people on hold. Provide callers on hold with progress reports every 30 to 45 seconds. Offer them choices if possible, such as “That line is still busy. Will you continue to hold or should I have —————- call you back?”
  10. Don’t use a speaker phone unless it is absolutely necessary. Speaker phones give the caller the impression that you’re not fully concentrating on his call, and make him think that his call isn’t private. The only time to use a speaker phone is when you need more than one person to be in on the conversation at your end.
  11. If you use an answering machine to answer calls when you can’t, make sure that you have a professional message recorded, that does the same thing as tip #3, and gives callers any other pertinent information before it records their messages. Update your answering machine message as needed. For instance, if your business is going to be closed for a holiday, update your recorded message to say so and to say when your business will reopen.
  12. Train everyone else who answers the phone to answer the same way, including other family members if you’re running a home based business. Check on how your business’s phone is being answered by occasionally calling in and seeing if the phone is being answered in a professional manner. If they don’t pass the test, review this answering tips guide with them to make sure that everyone at your business knows how to answer the phone properly.

 Quick Tips

  • Smile
  • Answer by the 3rd ring
  • Never, Ever, Lose your temper
  • Always be professional
  • Be direct and simple on your sentences
  • Keep same tone of voice
  • Do not use slang or buzz words
  • Be positive (even on bad days)
  • Take accurate note
  • Don’t leave people on hold to long
  • Return call promptly
  • Refrain from using speaker phone
  • Practice proper phone etiquette at all times
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