16 Phone Etiquette Tips To Help Employees Be More Professional on Calls


High acquisition costs have made good phone etiquette more important than ever. Not only can good phone etiquette improve the quality of communication between a company and its clients, but it can also help improve the brand and image of a company, making it easier for that company to get new customers.

Developing excellent phone etiquette, however, requires training and practice. But making sure that your employees have excellent phone etiquette could improve customer satisfaction, which could help appeal to your target audience and create brand loyalty.

Here are a few tips that can help employees be more professional when on a call:

1. Answer the phone promptly 

Answering the phone immediately or within the first few rings is a foundational way to be more professional on calls. The customer is calling the organization because they are in need and answering the call promptly is the first way of creating a good impression.

Answering the phone promptly also shows your clients that your company is available to them. Creating a perception that your company is always available can increase customer loyalty.  

Waiting for the phone to ring a few times could help your employees prepare what to say after they’ve answered the call. But this carries the risk that the customer may hang up before your employee gets an opportunity to talk to them. Customers may also get frustrated when they have to wait even an extra second to talk to your employees. 

Answering the call promptly makes your employees seem more professional because it lets your clients know that you value their time. Employees will also have more time to help the customer with their concerns and respond to their queries. 

2. Introduce yourself

After answering the phone, introduce yourself to the caller. Formal introductions are an important part of phone etiquette because it assures the caller that they’ve reached the intended party. The first words that your employees say to callers can make or break any conversation. A good introduction can help break the ice in a conversation and make the caller more open to speaking with the employee.

Use your formal name when introducing yourself when receiving or making calls. This will make you appear more professional because it will create a rapport between you and your caller. In addition, introducing yourself first also helps your employees appear more professional because it helps customers know who they’re speaking to, which improves their ability to open up to your employees. It also gives your employees time to plan the conversation. This is important because professional calls have to happen at a specific pace and tone. 

Make sure to introduce yourself by including the name of your business and the department you’re working for. For example, a professional introduction may sound like, “Good afternoon. Thank you for calling Google’s Human Resource Department. You’re speaking to John Smith. How may I help you?”

Introductions are a key part of phone etiquette because the caller can’t see the party they are talking to over the phone. Knowing your employees' names gives the caller an opportunity to judge the employee and the organization. 

3. Speak articulately and be clear

Employees have to be clear when on professional calls and convey their message articulately. Speaking clearly makes it possible for your employees to achieve the goals of the conversation. Plus, it‘s much easier for callers to understand your employees if they enunciate carefully. 

Speaking clearly is a big part of becoming more professional because it helps build rapport between your employees and callers. An employee’s voice is the only thing that represents your organization when having professional conversations. 

Being articulate allows your employees to convey their message in the best way possible. This saves time and allows the employees to respond to the caller’s concerns with ease. Speaking clearly may just help you convince the caller to buy your company’s product if you’re conducting sales calls. 

Not only that, but speaking clearly also allows callers to understand your employees without them having to shout or repeat what they are saying. It makes it difficult to avoid veering off the main subject you’re talking about, which is vital in professional conversations that must remain centered on specific objectives.

4. Be mindful of your tone

The right tone can turn around an otherwise difficult call

Your employees can be more professional if they are mindful of their tone when having conversations over the phone. Your employees’ tone can help them appeal to whomever they are on a professional call with. The best tone to employ when on a professional call is a combination of:

●     Cheerful

●     Serious 

●     Formal

●     Respectful and assertive 

The tone your employees use is important because they can’t see the emotional state of the caller. A good tone can help make the caller feel more comfortable on a professional call and improve how the caller thinks about your organization. This is important because your employees are usually the first point of contact between your organization and the client. 

A cheerful tone can help turn around a poor professional call. Your customers will remember the way you spoke to them when they called. Ensure that your employees’ tone during a professional call is not rude or aggressive. Sounding rude or aggressive will make it impossible for your company to engage in the intake of new clients

The right tone can play a big role in whether or not you get the desired result in a professional call. Be sure to control the volume of your voice so that it does not appear that you’re shouting at your customers. Avoid any misunderstanding with your customers by using a formal tone as often as possible. 

5. Be courteous 

Whenever on a professional call, employees need to be courteous at all times. Being courteous improves the customer experience by making the client feel valued and respected and may prevent the customer from getting agitated if they have a complaint against the company. Being polite also improves your phone etiquette and makes you appear more professional.

Showing your customers courtesy when talking to them improves the relationship they have with your company. Courtesy is a key part of any pleasant professional call. Customers are likely to stay loyal to brands that are polite to them. Being courteous makes your employees more professional because it makes your customers feel that your company is committed to addressing all their issues. 

Developing a culture of courtesy when having professional calls is not difficult. It may involve:

●     Being empathetic to the customer 

●     Avoiding using slang during a professional call 

●     Not having side conversations when on a professional call

●     Treating all professional calls the same way 

●     Personalizing the conversation by learning personal details about the client

●     Apologizing when in the wrong and being patient if the client is ill-tempered

Employees have to ensure that they show courtesy on professional calls because customers can always tell when an organization cares about them or not. Showing courtesy is a crucial step in building long-lasting relationships between your organization and its clients. 

6. Do not make any unnecessary interruptions

Avoid interrupting the caller when on a professional call at any cost. Let them speak about the issue they’re facing and respond when appropriate. Interrupting customers when they are speaking is rude and could discourage them from having any business with your company. One way of ensuring that you are not interrupting your customer is by asking, “May I speak?”

Your employees can become more professional on calls by removing any distractions that may interfere with them having a formal conversation. For instance, employees can turn their phones off while at work and receive only professional calls. 

Not interrupting the person on the other line indicates that you respect what they are saying. This is important because your customers want to know that what they say matters. It also helps them realize that your employees are working on addressing the issue instead of just listening to the call in order to hang up afterwards and not take action.

Not interrupting your callers in a professional call also makes it easier for you to get as much information as possible from the caller. Professional calls are an opportunity for a company to learn about its customers. They can use the information they gather as feedback to improve the quality of their services or products. 

Your employees should treat professional calls the same way they treat official face-to-face conversations. Interrupting the customer while they are speaking indicates that you don’t value what they have to say. While on the call, avoid eating or drinking when listening to the customer. The customer can hear background noises that you may be making that might interrupt their chain of thought.   

7. Have a plan

Creating a plan about what you are going to say can also improve your phone etiquette. As mentioned earlier, professional calls are often conducted with a certain objective. Having a plan in place when talking with clients can help your employees structure the conversation in a way that achieves the desired objective. 

Planning allows employees to be more professional by helping them know what they’re going to say ahead of time. This does not mean that every conversation between your employees and your customers has to be the same. It’s smart to have certain talking points that your employees should cover when conducting professional calls. 

Planning for the call equips your employees with the knowledge of what to do when they encounter various challenges. For instance, one of the best ways they can respond to an angry customer whom they are unable to calm down may be to transfer them to their superior. 

Employees with great phone etiquette should be able to come up with a plan for conducting a professional call almost immediately and implement it. This is because the nature of a conversation can change quickly and hanging up may not be an option. Your employees should always have an alternative plan that they can implement in such cases. 

Many companies have a built-in structure they’ve developed to make their employees more professional when they handle professional calls. But not every scenario can have the same response. For instance, one way of knowing how to plan for a professional call is to identify the reason the customer is calling in the first few minutes of the call. Finding out what the call is about makes it easier for your employees to determine a suitable course of action. 

8. Take notes and record any messages

One way of becoming more professional on calls is to take notes and record any messages you receive from the caller. It is important that employees be attentive to what the caller is saying and take notes on any pertinent information they’re giving. Taking notes can helps the employees avoid getting distracted by other factors when on a professional call. 

Record any messages that the caller might leave for someone else when on a professional call. This is quite easy when you are already taking notes of what the client is saying.

Taking notes also improves your employees’ phone etiquette because it makes them create a summary of what the client is saying. This eliminates the need to have the callers repeat themselves. 

Taking notes helps your employees better understand what the caller is saying, making it easier for them to respond to the caller’s queries and develop solutions to their problems. An employee can advise the client only if they understand the information provided in the call. 

Taking notes can also serve as a record of the client’s concerns and such information is useful for the company. For instance, multiple clients may be facing the same problem but the company won’t be aware of it unless they receive their calls. The notes your employees make can help the company identify the issue and address it before it adversely affects customer satisfaction. 

Note-taking should continue after the call. There is a lot of information you can deduce after the call has occurred which might be useful for your company and can help you develop strategies to improve customers’ experience. To be far more efficient and perhaps even reduce costs, you can decide to abandon manual note talking and opt for automatic call recording and transcription.  

9. Listen intently to the caller

Taking notes can help you become a better listener. But if you are unable to take notes, at least listen intently to what the caller is saying. Listening intently means letting the caller speak and focusing all of your attention on them. Active listening can help the client respond more favorably to your employees, giving them a better overall view of your company. 

Listening involves more than simply letting someone else speak their mind. It is being attentive to their tone of voice and the message they’re trying to convey through the call. Customers can tell when they’re being ignored or the representative is distracted. It is very easy to lose track of a conversation.

Listening is a big part of professional phone etiquette because companies stand to lose a lot if their clients feel their concerns are not taken seriously. Listening actively also allows your employees to know what they should say to address the caller’s situation. 

Avoid using the speakerphone when listening to customers on a professional call. There is a lot of background noise that a caller may hear from your end, which might make it difficult for you to listen to the client. Customers will be more willing to continue associating with companies they feel are attentive to their needs. 

10. Request the caller’s permission prior to putting them on hold

Putting a client on hold when on a professional call should be a direct “no.” But if you have no other option, request their permission and explain why you are putting them on hold. Clients will normally get disappointed by anyone keeping them on hold, so requesting permission can help a client feel important, especially if a reason is given as to why they’re being put on hold. This can help keep the client on the line rather than hanging up on the call.

Putting clients on hold during a professional call is only a suitable option if:

●     The problem they’re facing can’t be solved by the employee who answered the call

●     The employee talking to the client is new to their job

●     The employee does not want to mislead the client

●     The client has agreed to stay on hold

You should train your employees to develop an alternative strategy if the client does not agree to stay on hold. The best alternative strategy is to end the call and let the client know that you will call them back. Schedule a specific time for the second call so the client knows when to expect the company to get back to them. 

You should understand that putting a client on hold is never a good option. There are often long wait times that clients have to endure before they’re able to speak with your employees. Good phone etiquette involves developing the ability to ask for permission in a respectful manner when being put on hold can’t be avoided.

11. Keep track of your voicemails

Phone etiquette also involves how you handle the calls you received when you were not available. A customer may leave a voicemail if their call comes through but is not answered by any of your employees. Your employees can be more professional on calls by keeping track of all voicemails and responding to each one. 

It is quite easy to miss a voicemail left by a client. Keeping track of all the voicemails you’ve received requires actively checking for them on a consistent basis. This will make it easier for your employees to respond to voicemails promptly. Your clients will appreciate your company if they promptly respond to any voicemails they’ve left. 

Failing to respond to a customer’s voicemail could lead to the loss of that customer. A customer won’t forget that they left your company a voicemail. It is important that you show your clients you care about what they had to say and that you are apologetic you weren’t available when they made the call.  

Keeping track and responding to voicemails can improve customer retention. Customers will feel more comfortable with a company they know will always get back to them even if their calls are not initially answered. Keeping track of voicemails avoids the risk that they pile up and it becomes impossible to address all of them. 

12. Show empathy 

Developing good phone etiquette requires the ability to show empathy. Your employees can be more professional if they are able to put themselves in the shoes of your clients. Your employees can help your clients feel more comfortable by being compassionate and sensitive to each client’s feelings. 

However, being empathetic to your clients in a professional setting does not mean taking their side. It is important to try and understand your client’s point of view, especially if they are calling to give negative feedback. Having empathy can help your employees determine the best way to address the client’s concerns and move forward with appropriate action. 

Customers who feel that your employees understand them are more likely to continue making purchases at your company. Empathy helps create a good rapport in a professional call between clients and your employees. 

13. Be truthful 

Becoming more professional on calls requires employees to become more honest with themselves and the client they’re speaking to. Your employees should learn how to admit when they are not capable of helping the customer. It is not easy admitting that you’re incapable of solving a problem. But it is good phone etiquette to be truthful with the caller. 

Being honest is the best way to deal with a situation that your employees are unfamiliar with. A customer may have questions that the employee is not qualified to answer. In such cases, the best way for the employee to be more professional is by asking them for permission to put them on hold and get their superior. 

Honesty and integrity are vital to becoming more professional on calls. Your employees may receive a call asking them to engage in something unethical. Being honest can help the caller understand the company’s policies on engaging in such activities. Being honest also improves the quality of communication because it eliminates the risk that your employees will mislead your clients. 

Customers are more likely to accept an honest reply rather than an employee lying and failing to address the customer’s concerns. Your employees can also ask for more patience from the client on a professional call because not every issue can be solved immediately. 

14. Keep the conversation brief and stick to the core message

Your employees can be more professional on calls simply by being brief. Professional calls should not go on indefinitely. Your employees should aim to conclude the call in the shortest time possible. This can help them serve more clients by creating time to respond to more calls. 

Keeping the call short also avoids subjecting your customer to long wait times. Clients get very frustrated if they have to wait to talk to your employees. The best way to be brief is by sticking to the core message of the call. For example, if the call is about promoting a certain product, talk only about that product. 

Sticking to the core message is possible by creating specific talking points for your employees. Many companies follow a script when handling professional calls, but there are a lot of individual customer issues a script may not address.

Some of the ways you can keep the call brief is by:

●     Choosing the right wording 

●     Being direct when talking with the client 

●     Avoiding small talk that may distract you from the main talking points

Clients will appreciate your company if you are able to handle professional calls quickly and efficiently. Your employees need to learn how to approach agitated or angry clients who want to stay on the call for a long time. Your employees could always ask for more time and give the client guarantees that they will follow up on the issue

15. Practice and train phone etiquette skills

Practice makes perfect, so try to have your employees engage in mock phone calls to learn how to become more professional when talking with clients over the phone. Practicing can help your employees acquire the tone of voice needed to sound more professional. 

Training and practice on phone etiquette should be compulsory for all new hires. It’s equally important to create a recurrent program to help existing employees re-learn how to be more professional on calls. 

Training can help your employees understand how different phone systems work. For example, if your company upgrades its communication devices, you should train your employees how to use the new system. Understanding how your company’s phone system works will help your employees use that to their advantage when talking with clients. 

Practice and training will also prepare your employees on how to handle various customers, enabling your employees to be more professional with all types of clients such as:

●     Impatient clients 

●     Clients who don’t want to hang up 

●     New clients who have not yet bought anything from the company 

●     Clients with more than one issue

16. Finish the call on a positive note

Your employees can be more professional on calls by learning how to end the conversation on a positive note. You need to make sure that the client feels the call has been helpful to their situation. If your employee has not managed to help the client, they have to transfer the call to their superior. 

Some of the best tips to follow when ending a professional call are:

Thanking the client 

Thank the caller no matter how they conducted themselves in the call. Thanking the caller lets them know that the company cares about their opinion and appreciates the effort they have taken in calling the company. 

Not dropping the phone abruptly 

Conclude the call and gently place the phone down. Dropping it or putting it down abruptly could create the impression that you were angry at the client. 

Apologizing if you are in the wrong 

If you made a mistake during the call, finish off the conversation by apologizing to the client. You don’t have to be in the wrong to apologize, but if you feel it will help the client, do it. 

Call Smith.ai to improve your employees’ phone etiquette

Improving your employees’ phone etiquette will improve customer acquisition and retention rates, and is a good look for any company. However, implementing all the above tips can take alot of time and resources. 

At Smith.ai, we can provide you with the support you need to help your employees be more professional on calls. We will work with you to improve your sales, attract more clients and grow brand loyalty. Our agents can also be there for you if your employees are unavailable and you need someone professional to answer calls. Our agents also help with answer calls after hours, answer calls in Spanish, and can help transfer phone calls to your other employees, all while delivering professional service that helps you maintain a positive relationship with new and existing clients.

Don’t forget, we offer a 14-day, money-back guarantee. You can chat with us live on our website, 24 hours a day. Schedule your free 30-minute sales consultation to discuss how we can help your business.


Business Education
Written by Mike Graner

Mike Graner is the Marketing Manager at Smith.ai. He focuses on engaging content, company updates, and in-person events.

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