The Dos and Don'ts of Answering a Business Call

Posted on Tue, May 9, 2017 @ 09:23 AM by Juan Canto

Telecommunications is essential to sales, and it's hosting a powerful sales call can be the most powerful component of your marketing strategy.

Your company may have the most advanced business phone system, but if you don't know how to use it properly, you can give callers the wrong impression and damage your company's brand. How you answer a business call says a lot about you and about your organization, so make sure you make the effort when answering a business call with professionalism. Here are some dos and don'ts on how you can host a mutually beneficial business call.

Do: Start the Conversation on the Right Note

Try to answer calls before the third ring. After several rings, a caller may wonder if they are bothering you, and shy callers get progressively more nervous with each unanswered ring. Sit up straight and smile when you answer. Believe it or not, this adds positivity to your voice. Answer with warmth and enthusiasm, and identify yourself and your organization. A caller shouldn't have to ask if they have reached the right business.

Do: Enunciate Clearly and Keep Slang to a Minimum

Keep business phone speech professional, but conversational. Avoid slang but remain approachable.
You don't have to try to quash your regional accent, but you should always enunciate clearly. Mumbling is far harder to decipher than accents are. Your business phone speech should always be a bit more formal, and contain less slang than you would use when talking to a friend. Say "yes," or "certainly" rather than "OK" or "no problem. Try to cut out filler sounds like "um" and "you know."

Do: Be Courteous When Putting Someone on Hold

Answering the phone with "Hold please" and immediately pressing the hold button may be expedient, but it isn't very courteous. Always ask the caller if they mind being put on hold before doing so, and check back every 30 to 45 seconds if possible. Offer options if it looks like they'll be on hold for a long time, such as "Will you continue to hold, or should I have her call you back?"

Do: Explain Why You're Transferring the Call to Someone Else

If someone else is better equipped to handle a call, tell the caller you want to transfer them, and then ask if they mind: "Mr. Smith in the Billing department handles invoice questions. Would you mind if I transfer you to his number?" When you have the party on the line, explain that you want to transfer a call and make sure they are available to take it before making the transfer.

Don't: Try to Hold a Conversation in a Noisy Environment

Many business phone systems forward calls to mobile phones, and this raises the possibility of having to answer in a noisy environment. If you can get to a quieter space before answering, do so. If you have no choice but to answer in a noisy space (like a train platform), acknowledge the noise and ask if they want to continue or if it would be better to call back in a few minutes.

Don't: Use the Speakerphone Feature Unless You Have To

Approach using speakerphone functions whenever necessary. If you have to use them, let all parties on the call know they're on speakerphone to avoid mix-ups or confusion.
Using a speakerphone should never be your default setup. Using a speakerphone makes the caller feel as if their call is not private. If using the speakerphone function is necessary so that more than one person on your end can participate, be sure to explain this to the caller first and ask if they mind. Always tell the caller who else is in the room with you. Sometimes a caller isn't notified who's listening, and may say something in confidence that ends up being broadcast to the wrong person.

Don't: Take Sloppy Call Notes

When writing notes or taking a message, check the information before ending the call. Ask for confirmation on spellings you're unsure of. Always read back phone numbers and email addresses to make sure they're correct. Learn or post the phonetic alphabet nearby to use when confirming spellings to prevent confusion.

Don't: Close the Conversation Unprofessionally

Wrap the call up professionally with polite closing phrases, like "I'm so glad you called, Ms. Jones," and re-state any action you plan to take: "I'll call you tomorrow morning to confirm our meeting time." Thank them and say goodbye more formally than you would with your friends: "Thanks again for calling. Goodbye."

Telecommunications is still the lifeblood of business activity, and it's critical that professionals learn to use their phone correctly for business. Even when talking to someone you have a longstanding professional relationship with, you should treat business calls with more formality than you do calls to family and friends. This helps your own reputation as a professional, and is good for your organization's branding. 

Having the right phone system is important too. nexogy provides customized hosted business phone systems with all the calling features expected in the enterprise, plus capabilities that weren't available just a few years ago - all for a price that's much lower than the cost of a traditional PBX phone system.

Editor's Note: this post was updated on May 2, 2017 with new information for accuracy.

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Topics: call center, business phone systems, business productivity, Growing Your Business, Business communications, Telecommunications

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About the Author

Juan Canto
Juan Canto
Juan Canto is CFO for nexogy and LD Telecommunications, Inc., nexogy's parent company. Canto has been serving as CFO since 2000, and specializes in commercial and corporate banking, as well as U.S. more