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Phone Etiquette: How to Answer a Business Call

Business man answering a business call

Even with all of the new ways to communicate these days, the telephone is still a primary means of communication in business. Good phone etiquette will always be a crucial element to winning customers and building business relationships. The way that you answer a business call will form your customer’s first impression of you and your business.

Here are a few telephone answering tips to ensure that you’re presenting yourself—and your business–in a professional manner, all the time!

  1. Always answer a call promptly—at least by the third ring.

  2. Answer the phone in a professional and pleasant manner, and with a smile. Be enthusiastic. People can feel it or hear it on the other end.

  3. When answering an office phone, welcome callers by introducing yourself and your organization. For instance, ““Hello, Etiquette Page Enterprises, Margaret speaking. How may I help you?” If you’re answering a personal cell phone, a simple, “Good morning, this is Margaret,” is appropriate.

  4. Speak slowly and clearly when answering the phone so that the caller can understand you. Keep your voice at a moderate level. No one likes to be yelled at.

  5. If you’re answering a phone with multiple lines, be sure to ask the caller if it’s all right for you to place him on hold BEFORE you do so. Provide callers who are on hold with an update every 30 to 45 seconds and offer them choices if possible. “That line is busy, would you like to continue to hold or would you like to leave a message for Ms. Friesen?”

  6. Don’t use speakerphone to answer an incoming call. This could give the caller the immediate impression that you’re not full engaged with them.

  7. If you use an answering machine to catch those calls you can’t get to, make certain that you record a professional message that includes an introduction (just as if you were answering the phone). This will ensure that the caller knows he has reached the right person and avoid any confusion. Provide any other pertinent information that you feel would be useful to callers. For example: If you leaving for a vacation, update your message to include this information, along with the date you will be returning.

Good telephone manners go a long way. Following these few tips will ensure that you leave a positive impression with business contacts (so that they call back!)


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