10 Call Answering Tips for Outstanding Service

There aren't many jobs out there where phone answering skills are moot. From service techs to attorneys, phone etiquette sets the tone for your entire business. That's even more true for receptionists and live answering service employees who provide the first impressions for thousands of small businesses across the nation. If phone answering is part of your job (or if you're just answering calls while your receptionist is out), try these ten steps to call answering success!

1. Start with a wow-worthy greeting. If you work at a virtual answering service or are the main phone answerer for your business, you may want to suggest pumping up your greeting these tricks. Start out by saying "Good Morning / Afternoon" or "Thank you for calling" and end with an offer of assistance such as "How may I help you?" And, of course, always say the company name when answering the phone, so your callers are sure to know they've got the right place.

2. Ask a question to set the tone of the call. Instead of leading with the impersonal, "What can I do for you today?" start with some pleasantries to get the call off on the right foot. "How are you?" is a trusty stand-by.

3. Add a personal touch. If you know a bit more about your caller, instead of asking how they are, try going for something more specific. ("How's your new house?") A little warmth and interest lets them know you care!

4. Use expressive phrasing. Substitute enthusiastic words like "Absolutely!" and "Of course!" for drab affirmatives like "Sure" and "Okay." If you're a receptionist or work at a call answering service, you may only have a minute or two to chat, but you can certainly make those seconds count!

5. Say your caller's name. Often. The sound of your own name is music to your ears; It's also a great to play up familiarity. Of course, if you're a virtual receptionist you may not know every caller by name, but using your callers' names will make you seem like old friends!

6. Know when to say "may" versus "can." "Can" usually denotes ability whereas "may" is often used when asking politely to gather information ("May I have your telephone number?"). Using "may" correctly can make you sound more polished and professional!

7. Check in with your caller. If you ever need to place your caller on hold, make sure they know you haven't forgotten about them! A simple, "It'll just be one more moment, Mary," will make your caller feel taken care of while you try another line or get an answer to their question.

8. Say the magic words. You mother wasn't wrong when she said that "please" and "thank you" can get you far; slip one in at every opportunity and your callers will be sure to appreciate your courtesy!

9. Accentuate the positive. Saying "no" is no fun, but offering to help is always a good call. Follow every negative with an offer of assistance: "Jim prefers to give out his cell phone number himself, but I would be happy to try his line for you and see if he's available."

10. End your calls gracefully. Sign off with a friendly statement like, "It was wonderful chatting with you!" And if you're a receptionist transferring a call, you don't have to talk long to sign off with style: "Have a lovely day, Sharon! I'll connect you to Jonathan's line now."

With these ten phone answering tricks up your sleeve, you'll be sure to sound like a pro. You'll be making great first impressions and setting a great example for your business in no time flat!

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