Phone etiquette is one of the most important — and underrated — resources in your brand-building tool kit. Answering phone calls the right way creates a positive first impression of your business and reassures customers that they’re in good hands. Whether you’re at the front reception or fielding customer service calls, these simple tips can help you create an exceptional experience.

Delight Customers by Answering Phone Calls Quickly

When customers call your company, they’re often in the middle of a busy day. To keep them happy, answer the phone as quickly as possible. Aim to pick up before the third ring; that way, callers can get the help they need with minimal wait time.

Try Answering the Phone With a Smile

A warm, welcoming voice is a surefire way to make customers feel at ease when they call your business. To bring an inviting quality to the way you speak, borrow a technique from voice actors and smile as you’re answering the phone. It might feel silly, but a simple smile instantly changes the tone of your voice. If you’re having a bad day, it’s an easy way to snap out of it and maintain a friendly, professional phone persona.

Listen Carefully to the Caller’s Needs

Professional Operator Wearing Formal Grey Suit Using a Landline Phone

Learning how to speak on the phone professionally isn’t just about talking; it’s also about listening. Providing excellent service requires you to give your undivided attention to every person who calls.

To start, listen intently to the caller before you offer a solution. Ask clarifying questions to get to the heart of the issue. If the situation is complex, repeat the situation back to the customer to make sure that you understand it correctly.

Active listening allows you to achieve two crucial goals. First, it shows callers that you’re genuinely interested in their needs. Second, it helps you get all the information you need to provide the right solution in the shortest amount of time.

Explain Each Step to Inspire Confidence

Confidence is key to learning how to answer the phone professionally. When customers get the sense that you don’t know what you’re talking about, they’re less likely to trust you and your company. 

Once you understand the customers’ problems, you can do a few simple things to inspire confidence. Before you take action, explain what you’re doing and why. That way, if you need to type or put them on hold, they aren’t left wondering what’s going on. Plus, you can avoid sounding distracted or detached as you work.

Keep in mind that customers are not experts. To avoid confusion, speak slowly, clearly, and without using jargon. If they aren’t in a good mood, don’t be afraid to empathize and help them feel validated.

Master How to Speak on the Phone Professionally by Using Small Talk

Small talk is one of your secret weapons in learning how to answer the phone professionally. Waiting is inevitable — you might need to give a colleague time to answer or allow the system to process a change to the customer’s account. 

Rather than sit in silence, try building a connection with friendly conversation. Ask about the weather, for example, or make a comment about the customer’s location. Questions such as “Are you having a cold winter out there in Michigan?” or “Are you looking forward to the weekend?” can fill the space and humanize your business. Keep things light by staying away from potentially controversial topics, like politics and religion.

Are you taking steps to improve the way you answer calls at work? We’d love to know if these tips helped. Leave a comment or call us to find out how our answering service can reduce your workload and improve your company’s phone operations.