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10 "Do's & Don'ts" of Telephone Etiquette

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If you work in an office, run a small business, or simply want to make sure that phone manners are practiced in your home, focus on telephone etiquette. Knowing what to do -- and what not to do -- when answering and speaking on the phone is imperative. It will help you to acquire and retain clients, and respectively conduct phone conversations from your home phone.

"Do" Speak Clearly

Make sure that all your words are clear when you speak to the caller. Enunciate your words while slightly smiling. Speak slowly; the person on the other end of the phone conversation needs to understand you.

"Do" Greet Customers Appropriately

When you answer the phone, greet the customer according to the time of day (e.g., "good morning," "good afternoon," "good evening"). Thank the customer for calling in your initial greeting -- this invites the customer to feel comfortable voicing a complaint or asking a question.

"Do" Ask How You Can Help

Ask the customer how you can be of service when greeting them. After listening to the customer's reason for calling -- and you can't be of assistance -- attempt to transfer the consumer to the appropriate department.

"Do" Listen to the Caller's Request

Listen carefully to the caller's request. Ask the customer applicable questions to determine how you can help. Don't interrupt when the caller is speaking.

"Do" Ask to Place the Caller on Hold

Before you place a caller on hold, ask permission first. Once you've pressed the hold button, quickly work to address the customer's problem as quickly as possible.

"Don't" Talk with Your Mouth Full

Don't pick up the phone with your mouth full. This makes it difficult for the caller to understand you -- and is frustrating-- especially if the call is urgent. Answering the phone at work while eating gives an unprofessional impression.

"Don't" Speak too Loudly or Softly

Answer the phone in the volume that you normally speak. Speaking softly will make it challenging for the caller to understand what you're saying. Talking softly may confuse the caller, unsure that he has dialed the right number. Answering the phone too loudly sounds harsh and abrasive, which is an unappealing to the caller.

"Don't" Leave the Caller on Hold

If you have to place the caller on hold, don't leave the person calling on hold for a long period of time. Check back every few seconds to keep the caller informed on your progress.

"Don't" use Slang Words

Using slang or shortened words during phone conversation is inappropriate and unprofessional. For instance, if you have to check on something for the customer, say "just a moment," not "hold on a sec".

'Don't' Answer the Phone Casually

At home, answer the phone with "(family last name) residence"; greet the caller according to the time of day. Instead of simply saying "hello" when answering a business phone, state the name of the business or state the company's slogan immediately.


Tamiya King has been writing for over a decade, particularly in the areas of poetry and short stories. She also has extensive experience writing SEO and alternative health articles, and has written published interviews and other pieces for the "Atlanta Tribune" and Jolt Marketing. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in English and is currently pursuing higher education to become a creative writing professor.

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