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Phone Receptionist Etiquette
A phone receptionist's job is based on interacting with people on the telephone. She must take incoming calls and route them to the correct people. She may need to take messages or handle some of the calls of herself. She must do all of this using proper phone etiquette to make a good impression on the callers and represent the company well. Receptionists who practice good phone etiquette show they are true professionals.
Your greeting may be the first impression a caller receives of your company. Answer the phone promptly, within the first three rings. Clearly state a greeting that includes the name of your company, your name and an offer of assistance. For example, an appropriate greeting would be, "Good morning, you have reached Apex Company. This is Melody speaking. How may I help you?"
Your first task is to find out the purpose of the call, so you can assist the caller. You should also ask for his name so you can address him properly. Once he has told you his reason for calling, repeat it back to him to make sure you understood him correctly. If he has not already given you his name, ask for it at this time. For example, you might say, "You said you are calling for information on the conference we are holding, correct? And whom am I speaking with?" When he gives his name, repeat it to make sure you've got it right by saying something like, "And you said this is Mark Morgan, correct?" By using a question rather than a statement to confirm the name and purpose, you leave an opening for the caller to easily correct you if necessary.
Assist the caller based on her purpose. You may need to transfer the caller to someone else or take a message. You may need to get more information and handle the situation yourself. If you must transfer, let the caller know the name and extension of the party to whom she is being transferred. This will allow her to get to the right person quickly in case she is disconnected. If you are taking a message, repeat it back to the caller to make sure you wrote it down correctly. If you must handle the call yourself and put the caller on hold, ask for permission to do so. If it takes longer than you expected to find the information or handle the situation, return to the call to let her know that you are still working on it. Offer to call her back rather than placing her on hold again.
Focus all of your attention on each caller. Don't eat or drink while you are taking a call, and don't interrupt the phone conversation to talk to other people. Concentrate on maintaining a friendly but professional tone, and don't use slang or questionable language. Maintain your professionalism even if the caller is upset and argumentative. Listen to angry callers, and repeat a summary of their concerns to show that you truly heard what they said, then empathize with their concerns and let them know you will do your best to assist them.
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."