Business Telephone Etiquette

Talking on the telephone is something we all do, regardless of what school we went to: Keiser University, Norwich University, Rasmussen College, South University, University of Phoenix, Walden University, but certain rules of etiquette apply when it comes to speaking to clients and customers on the phone in the context of a business. Proper phone etiquette is important in order to maintain a company’s overall reputation. Since the person answering the phone is the customer’s first line of contact, that first impression is of absolute importance. Of course, using the phone while at work is also an issue that should be addressed. In today’s modern world with cell phones becoming more and more prevalent, employees tend to talk on the phone during business hours much more than in days gone by. It is essential that proper etiquette be followed while at work when it comes to using the telephone. Following these simple tips, you can ensure your business professionalism shines through.

Photo Credit| Johnathan Lyman; Flickr 2010

Work Phone Etiquette

If you’re answering the phone at work, be sure to properly say and clearly pronounce the business name. This way, the caller instantly knows whom they are calling. When the caller asks for a specific person, it’s important to know whether or not that person is available. If they are not available, you should politely inform the caller, and then ask if they’d like to leave a message with you, or if he or she prefers to leave a voice mail. In some cases, the person may opt to call back at a later time. In these cases, taking a message may not be necessary. Always speak clearly and politely, and maintain a positive tone. Here are some more work phone etiquette tips:

  • Never interrupt a caller while he or she is speaking to you.
  • If a customer is angry or irate, remain calm and do not engage in the argument. Instead, politely redirect them.
  • Do not chew gum or eat while talking on a business phone line.
  • If a coworker approaches, do not put the caller on hold in order to talk to the person in the room. Wait until you hang up.
  • Try not to keep callers on hold too long; if the person they’re trying to reach is unavailable, simply take a message.
  • Office phones should not ring any more than three times before they are answered. Answering on the first or second ring is ideal.

Cell Phone Etiquette

Many of us use cell phones to contact clients and customers, since we now live in a busy, mobile world. If this is the case, it can be a bit more difficult to display caller etiquette. It is not often the people we are talking to on our cell phones that experience issues, it’s the people around us. Conversations and meetings can often get interrupted with a cell phone call. It is vital that you always display the proper etiquette when it comes to cell phone use. These tips should help:

  • When at the office, always have your cell phone on vibrate so it does not interrupt coworkers.
  • Only take personal cell phone calls while on break or at lunch.
  • Do not cut someone off in order to answer a cell call unless you know it is an emergency.
  • Mute a call if there is excessive background noise, or someone is talking to you while on the phone.
  • Do not talk too loudly while on your cell phone. If possible, leave the room.
  • Never text and drive at the same time.
  • Try to keep cell phone conversations short while at the office.

Etiquette for Unplanned Calls

Many times, we may get a phone call letting us know our child is sick at school, or we get a personal call from a long lost friend. Unexpected calls should be addressed, but there is a proper time and place. If you receive a call that is urgent, try to see if you can return the call immediately, and then proceed to call the person back in a private area. If the call is of a less urgent nature, politely tell the person you are currently at work, and see if you can return their call when you have more free time outside of the office. There is nothing more annoying than an employee who spends their time on the phone chatting with people about nothing instead of doing actual work. Regardless of the situation, these tips can help you make better decisions:

  • Ask who the unexpected caller is, and the nature of their call.
  • Try to take unplanned, personal calls in a room away from others.
  • Do not talk too long on casual calls while at work.
  • Try to remain calm and polite, and handle the situation accordingly.
  • Maintain the same etiquette rules on these types of calls as you would on any other call.