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Telephone Etiquette

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Telephone etiquette means being respectful to the person you are talking with, showing consideration for the other person's limitations, allowing that person time to speak, communicating clearly, and much, much more. Your voice must create a pleasant visual impression over the telephone.

Click here to see a video that explains the do’s and don’ts of phone etiquette.

Be Polite

Every call you answer should start with a strong and friendly greeting identifying your name and the company department. Proper etiquette calls for you to establish an understanding with the caller, so he immediately feels reassured that you will take care of his needs. Your tone of voice will come through the phone, so it's important to approach each call with an upbeat attitude. If you must, pretend it's a performance and put on an act. For example, put a big smile on your face before picking up each call. Another aspect of being polite and respectful is listening to the caller without interrupting - whether the person is angry or upset. Do not allow your emotions to make you reactive. Put yourself in the caller's shoes and maintain a respectful, professional tone of voice no matter what.

Speak Clearly

Nothing is more frustrating to a caller who wants to get business done than hearing a representative garble words that require repeating. Proper phone etiquette requires enunciating each word as clearly as possible and speaking a moderate pace. Talk too fast and the caller might not hear you clearly. Talk too slowly and you might frustrate a caller who wants to get off the phone as soon as possible. Do not eat or drink while talking. This is not only rude by it also makes it hard for the caller to understand what you are saying.

Call Management

It's important to hold and transfer calls efficiently and appropriately. Callers should not have to wait for unreasonable lengths of time, and they should not be transferred to the wrong person. When putting someone on hold, ask if you can put them on hold before actually doing it. If it needs to be a long wait, apologize to the caller and let them know about how long they'll be on hold. Next, tell them what you'll be doing while they wait. When you transfer the caller, introduce them to the next representative and explain why they are being transferred.


Part of being able to help a customer with either providing information or resolving an issue is to be prepared. You can do this by keeping important papers highlighted with key talking points or scripts next to the phone on your desk. This lets you quickly provide helpful information to the caller. Callers appreciate when you listen to their concerns and respond accordingly. Make the callers feel like their concerns are valid, and that you are able to provide some type of solution. Follow through by going out of your way to accommodate requests, either directly yourself or by sending the caller through to someone else who is better equipped to help. Take down all necessary information if you need to leave a message for someone.