5 Steps to Answering Your Business Phone

Recently The Casper Agency of Saint John, NB sent me a question via Twitter. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be a subject I haven’t featured in this blog. So, without further delay, here’s my best advice for how to answer your business phone.

Here’s the question:

Do you have a blog post with advice on how to answer a phone? Your thoughts on the best way to greet people when you pick up? @TheCasperAgency

The word “greet” is defined as “give a polite word or sign of welcome” and that’s exactly what you want to accomplish when you answer your phone. You want to create an experience that equals how you greet visitors in-person and aligns with your company’s brand.

  1. Of all the words you may choose to include when you answer the phone, the most important is your name. When we answer the phone, we are creating a “handshake” with our customers and prospects. If they do not clearly hear and understand our name, we diminish our ability to build relationships. For example, I answer my phone with “Mary Jane speaking. How can I help you?”
  2. A fabulous phone greeting has been edited … several times! Have you ever been uncomfortable calling a hotel or restaurant or spa because the person answering the phone tells you a lot of things very quickly without taking a breath? That’s because no one has considered editing the greeting. Is it absolutely necessary to say “Good morning” or “Good evening”. I don’t think so. Is it essential to use both a first and last name? No. You do want to use a first name, the company name and then a statement that lets the caller know you want to be of service. My favourite is “How can I help you?” but you could also say “Welcome to ABC Company” or “What can I do for you today?” Whatever you decide, make sure it fits your brand and indicates your desire to be of service. You can even be a bit cheeky if you wish. For The Casper Agency they could answer with “What can we write for you today?”
  3. If at all possible, don’t rush to answer the phone. What I mean is, no matter when the phone rings, it’s going to interrupt you. You aren’t sitting around waiting for the phone to ring – you’re working. When you grab the phone and answer quickly, you will still have the sound of being interrupted in your voice and you will “throw” it at the caller. I know we’ve all experienced this and been left with the feeling that we called at the wrong time, or worse, that the company we’ve called isn’t interested in speaking with us. When the phone rings, stop what you are doing and remember that you want to create a great first impression. Then answer on the second ring or between the second and third ring.
  4. Smile. I know this sounds ridiculous but it works – every time. When you smile you use facial muscles that change the sound of your voice. You can be having the worst day ever but if you smile when you answer the phone, your clients and prospects will never know.
  5. Verify the caller’s name as soon as possible. By using your name you have extended your hand in greeting so you want to make sure you complete the introduction. Because you’ve used your name, the majority of callers will automatically provide their name as well, but if they don’t, you can say something like “And who am I speaking with?” or “I didn’t catch your name.” or “And what is your name?”. Once you have the caller’s name, use it. You can do this during the call when you ask a question or provide information, and as you are ending the call. Remember our names are important to us and sharing them is a sign we are building relationships.

What would you add to this list? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts.


2 thoughts on “5 Steps to Answering Your Business Phone”

  1. Mary Jane, I think you can create a whole new category naming it PX (Phone Experience), inspired by UX (User Experience) on the web. You do the same, but in telecom. Perhaps take it even further to etiquette in a voice Skype call etc.
    Hope this leads you to some interesting thoughts.
    Best of luck!

    • Hi Oleg, Thanks, as always, for contributing your thoughts, comments and experience. This does lead to some interesting thoughts. Stand by!


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