Wheel of Life Series with Lady Sam: Telephone etiquette


For the next few weeks, I will be writing on customer service. There are several components to consider when looking at customer service. Telephone calls is one such component. Telephone calls require very strong communication skills especially, as the person on the other end of the line can only experience you based on your voice and tone. Extra attention is needed when speaking on the telephone so, if you are in a job where you have to answer the telephone but have never been told how to do so correctly, then read along to get some tips on how to answer calls professionally.

  1. There is an unspoken rule that in a professional organisation, telephone calls should be answered by the sixth ring (that is, unless it is a switchboard or similar; in that case, the customer has to follow the prompts) Once you pick up the phone, you should respond with a standard greeting. So, you can say something along the lines as: “Hello, this is Abena, and you are calling Company XXX, how can I help you?” This will make your customer feel at ease, knowing that they have called the right number; plus it already starts off the call on a positive light. Almost all customers will appreciate your friendly approach. As a side bar, on a personal call, it is ok to begin with just a “Hello” and let the callers introduce themselves first.
  2. Always speak clearly. Project your voice without shouting. You want to be heard and avoid having to repeat yourself. A strong, confident voice will make a customer trust you and what you are communicating even more.
  3. If you are on a call that requires you to speak louder due to a bad connection, etc., simply step out of the room and speak with them separately. Your customers are always your main concern, but you do not want to disrupt the working atmosphere for your colleagues, be mindful of your volume because you do not want to be so focused on your phone call with a customer that you’re barely paying attention, to your present setting. When working in a call centre, things can get pretty loud. You always want to be mindful that you are not disrupting your colleagues.
  4. Always listen attentively to your customer, try to avoid any distractions – customers can tell when you do not give them your full attention. There will be times that you will not be so strict with your script because you may find that the customer has already provided the answer to your question. Listen attentively and learn to empathise with your customer.
  5. Where possible, try to take notes during calls – it is useful to refer to in order to demonstrate that, indeed, you were listening to the customer. And you never know when you may need to go back to this conversation in future.
  6. Always ensure that you speak properly, and use professional language. Expressions like K (short form of ok) and lol (laugh out loud) are not acceptable language to use on a professional call so do not get familiar. Remember, you are representing the company and not yourself. A key difference between professional and personal phone calls is the language.

Always be mindful and respectful when on the phone. You never know when customers might get offended. It’s best to use formal language. It’s okay to throw in humour if appropriate, but never crack a joke that could upset a customer.

  1. Try to aways remain cheerful. You never know when a customer is having a bad day. When someone is rude to you on the phone – although difficult – try not to take it personally, they could just be having a bad day as said. Remain positive and be nice – you could be the one to turn the customer’s day around.

That is it for this week’s discussion on telephone etiquette. Look out for part two. You can also follow me on instagram @ladysamgh for more guidance on such matters.

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