10 top tips for answering telephone calls professionally

Co-founder, Sales & Marketing Director
Answer-4u Limited
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Web enquiries, emails, social media and live chat facilities all have their place, but the telephone is still the preferred communication tool of choice for many when it comes to business. With this in mind, here’s our tips on getting call answering right first time

The first one is probably the most obvious but answer the call quickly. Nothing says unprofessional like leaving a caller hanging on a ringing line. They have made the move to call your business over the others listed on Google (and probably cost you a ‘click’ in the process!) so reward them by answering their call quickly.

Answering the phone ‘with a smile on your face’ might sound cheesy but it really works. It doesn’t matter if you are having a bad day, are half way through a complicated spreadsheet or half way out of the door on the way home. Your caller takes priority. Warm and enthusiastic is suddenly the order of the day.

Always mention your company name in your greeting. It confirms where the caller is ringing without them having to check and sets the tone for a professional conversation.

Speak clearly and use professional language – enunciate every word and avoid using ‘cheers’, ‘uh-huh’, ‘mate ‘,’yeah’ etc. You are speaking to a business contact not your drinking pal. Keep it friendly but business-like.

When taking a message check the information you are noting. Re-confirm any spellings that you are unsure of back to the caller. I can almost guarantee any subsequent emails to ‘Katy’ will put you on the back foot if you put ‘Dear Katie’.  If you are taking down email addresses or telephone numbers always read these back. You don’t want a red hot business lead in your hand that you can’t get back to.

Learn the phonetic alphabet and use it when you are confirming spellings back. It’s not difficult to pick up and N for November sounds so much better than ‘So that’s N for Noddy?’

Even if you have no idea what they are talking about remain positive and professional by using ‘let me find that out for you and come back to you’ rather than ‘I don’t know’ as it shows interest and a willingness to help.

If possible give the caller an idea when they can expect a call back. If your colleague is in a meeting or out of the office for the afternoon explain it may be the following day that they get a response and check if someone else can help them. Your poor colleague may well get a frosty reception if they call back a day later and from the way you took the message the caller had expected a quicker response.

If you have to put people on hold make sure you go back to update them every few seconds or so and remember to keep offering to have them called back

Be aware your out of hours callers are just as important as those who call within office hours. You may well receive calls in the evening and over the weekend particularly if your callers are consumers. Have a professional call answering service in place for these people – your next big sale could come through when your office is closed. Don’t put them off by letting the phone ring or using an impersonal answerphone. A new customer will almost certainly call the next business in your industry that bothers to pick up.

This post originally appeared on the Answer-4u website and Answer-4u blog.

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By MelanieArt
24th Apr 2012 09:57


Great tips. Answering the phone with a smile on your face always works, it sounds silly but you can really hear someone smiling!



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By David Evans
16th Jul 2012 09:55

Some really good tips here. One of the best have to be to make sure you give your callers a time frame in which they will be called back. It's small things like this which make your callers life easier and helpps to get across that your organisation cares about its customers. 

-- Dave Evans Commercial Director at accessplanit Specialist in learning management system and training management software

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19th Nov 2016 03:24

These are some really good tip for good customer service at a business. I think that if every business could follow these tips that the positive impact would be massive all over. Kinda like the domino affect every where. These tips don't seem to be that big of a deal but it is the small things that makes a difference to the other person on the other end of the phone.


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