Appropriate business telephone etiquette says receptionists should answer calls professionally with a proper greeting and not rush callers off the line. But knowing how to end a phone call in a polite, professional way doesn't come naturally to everyone. If you find yourself or your team losing valuable time in your day to calls like these, it may be time to switch to an outsourced team of virtual receptionists.
However, even if you decide to outsource, it's still a good idea to brush up on your phone etiquette skills. Our tips will help guide you on how to end phone calls politely in both a professional setting and on your weekly calls with your chatty aunt.
We've all been on calls that just never seem to end, even though the caller could have spared the last 10 minutes about their dog's new trick. It's not that you don't want to get to know the person on the other end, but a short two- to three-minute story is more than acceptable.
If you find yourself in this awkward situation, try using these tips to let the person on the other end know it’s time for the call to end.
When ending a phone call, it’s important to always be professional and polite — especially if you have to cut a conversation short. You don’t want the caller to feel rushed or like you’re brushing them off.
Start by referring to the caller by their name. Be careful with the words you choose and work courteous words and phrases into your conversation. Also, maintain a professional tone when speaking.
“It was great catching up with you today, [Name].”
For scheduled business calls, it's wise to create an agenda and share it with the other participants. This gives everyone a heads-up of what's on the discussion board and helps keep the meeting on track.
By the time you reach the end of the agenda, it's clear that there's nothing left to cover, and the conversation is nearing an end. Before saying goodbye, open the floor for questions, and if there are no questions, it's a perfect time to close out the call.
"We've reached the end of our agenda now, and that's all I have for today. Is there anything else you'd like to cover while we have one another?"
Likely, not all the calls you take are scheduled meetings. As a receptionist or sales associate, you’re answering calls from those with questions or even pitching your business to potential leads.
Either way, you want to make sure all business questions are answered, especially for sales calls. Otherwise, you may lose out on that lead. This goes for all other calls as well. If you’re on a call with an active client, address all their questions before closing out the meeting.
Always ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Everyone’s time is valuable, so acknowledge that while you’re ending your calls with clients and potential leads. Always end the call with a thank you.
“Thank you for calling today, [Name]! I appreciate your time and I look forward to our next call.”
Long meetings that cover multiple issues or projects tend to lead to information overload and loss of focus. In fact, engagement falls after 30 minutes, and attention spans fade quickly the longer the meeting goes on.
Instead, keep meetings focused on one thing, whether it’s a specific report, the week's goals, or a particular issue. Schedule them short — 25 to 45 minutes seems to be the sweet spot for business meetings. A quick, concise meeting shows appreciation for everyone's time.
To end a call when there is more you could discuss but have a time limit, let the participants know you’ll cover the rest at your next meeting or via email.
“This was a productive meeting! I’ve covered a lot of information already today, so let’s save the rest for our next call.”
Some people are natural chitchatters and could go on telling stories for hours. However, it eats into someone's work schedule when this happens on a business call.
Interrupting a caller can be tricky, but it may be necessary if done politely. You don't want the caller to think that you are cutting them off or not interested in their business at hand. However, it's OK to break up the conversation if you have a hard stop for a following engagement or an emergency has come up.
"I hate to interrupt, but I have another meeting to get to in a few minutes, and I want to make sure I've answered all of your questions before I go."
Or try: "I'm so sorry for the interruption, but our meeting time is about to end shortly, and I want to make sure we've covered everything you need first."
When interrupting isn’t in your favor, make use of natural pauses or breaks in conversation as a way to end a phone call. These pauses usually occur when the topic changes, a question is answered, or there is a reconsideration.
When ending a phone call during a natural pause, do so by politely asking for any further questions, offering an overview of next step action items, or thanking the caller for their time.
“Well, thank you for calling today. If you don’t have any other questions, I will let you get back to your day.”
While you don't want to leave calls open ended with unanswered thoughts or questions, it is wise to leave the door open for future communication. If you intend to follow up, let the caller know how and when you'll reach them. Otherwise, let them know how they can reach out to you if they think of something else after the call that they would like to share.
“Thank you so much for your time today, [Name]. If you think of any other questions or anything you need before our next call, you can always reach out to me via email.”
Or before saying goodbye, you can say, "We discussed [XYZ] action items on our call today. If you can provide [X], I will handle [Y and Z] by our next meeting. I look forward to touching base again then!”
When your job puts you in meetings or on calls all day, you’re bound to find yourself in all types of unique conversations — you never know what the person on the other end will say or how they’ll act. From endless chitchat to awkward silence, a good receptionist can juggle these scenarios and respond appropriately.
However, learning how to respond on the fly takes practice. Try out the following six call scripts with examples of how to end a phone call in virtually any scenario.
To wrap up a call, try rephrasing what was last said by the caller. This shows the caller you’re actively listening and engaged in what they’re saying. You can use this technique in multiple scenarios as a means of how to end a phone call.
“Last quarter’s sales were lower than the previous. Let me take another look at the report for a deeper analysis, and I’ll get back to you with what I find.”
At the beginning of the call, you might have made small talk about upcoming weekend plans. You can revisit these plans at the end of the call to wrap up.
“Well, it was great chatting with you today. I hope you have a great time at your [event] this weekend!”
If you have recurring meetings with this caller, scheduling your next call is another way to end the call with a forward look.
“How does Tuesday the 11th at 3 p.m. work for you?”
When nearing the end of the call, phrase your last topic of conversation as “one more thing.” This extends the conversation and lets the caller know the call will end soon.
“One last thing before I go: XYZ…”
Subtly give a deadline to the end of the call to let the caller know you only have a few more minutes to wrap things up.
“In these last few minutes while I have you, I’d like to mention XYZ…”
If you have a meeting to get to or other calls to make, politely let the caller know you have to hop off to get to your next appointment.
“I have another meeting to get to in just a few minutes, so I will send you a recap of what we’ve discussed today, and we can correspond further via email or schedule another call. It was great catching up with you today!”
As a busy business owner, you want your clients and sales leads to feel heard, but you don't have the time for extended phone calls, nor do your team members. If you frequently find yourself in situations where you're unsure how to end a phone call in a timely manner, you may want to consider outsourcing phone call management.
Smith.ai offers a 24/7 answering service with professional virtual receptionists who can manage your inbound business calls and more. Book a call today to learn more about how Smith.ai can help get you off long phone calls and put time back into your day.