Phone Etiquette | How to Handle Calls Professionally

In business, phone etiquette is extremely important and can have a major impact on customer retention and acquisition. Here’s how to handle calls professionally.

Consider the way you personally answer telephone calls each day.

It certainly would not be consistent with the way we answer a business call. In my personal phone call, we might answer the phone by saying “what’s going on bro?” Or maybe even just saying “what do you want?”.

And circumstances where it’s a personal car there’s really no guideline. But when it comes to your staff answering calls from clients or potential clients, there are some very important guidelines that should be followed. In fact, if you’ve ever worked with a phone answering service, you probably noticed they take their scripting very serious. Every word spoken can have good or bad consequences.

There are a lot of things that you should be doing when it comes to proper phone etiquette. We’ll walk through some essential rules, what not do and why they’re important as well as tips for the best practices in today’s article!

A few points we’ll cover: Why good manners matter; The dos-and don’ts from behind your desk or on social media (or both!) And lastly – How can these skills help grow my business?

Here’s what we are going to discuss.

  • Is Phone Etiquette That Important?

  • Steps to Proper Phone Etiquette

  • Must Do’s

  • Must Never Do’s

Is Phone Etiquette That Important?

As we initially stated, phone etiquette is not a big deal when we’re having personal conversations with friends and family.

However, it has financial impacts when we are dealing with customers, clients, and especially prospects.

When you are talking to someone on the phone, there is a set of guidelines that need to be followed in order for your call not only to sound professional but also to ensure its standard. Think about how important it will be if this particular lead becomes one-of-a-kind when compared with all others.


Using an internal study and survey we determine that 74% of people unequivocally say good customer service impacts future business relations.

You’ll want to make sure that your tone is always appropriate and professional when calling a customer service line. If you don’t follow these guidelines, people will think less of not only yourself but also the company as well!

You may be on the other side answering phones for companies like AT&T or Sprint though – so we can assure all those rules still apply even moreso than usual because what goes around comes back around right?

When you’re working in customer service, it is important to make sure your calls are relevant and meet company standards. That’s why following the rules of phone etiquette can help create a better experience for everyone involved!

So, it’s obvious that you would never start a professional phone call by saying “yo, what’s up?”.  Or for that matter, it would not be very wise to even answer a professional business line by just saying “hello”. That would be fairly unprofessional.


Listen to your customers. This is a sure way of keeping every call on the proper level and ensuring that you provide accurate service with what has been advertised for, or at least similar in quality as expected from other companies products/services.

Phone etiquette is the key to a successful business call. The following rules will ensure that each of your future discussions holds an equal level of quality and importance:

-Don’t do anything on mute when someone else in the room starts talking – If you’re taking notes during one part, turn off voice memos so other people can hear what’s going down too! This way everyone gets their fair share–and we mean EVERYONE from top executives all way down through secretary positions or receptionists!

The more you do something, the better at it becomes. By following this rule and making your own routine as a result of these individual rules we developed for ourselves over time or through trial and error, one can develop their very own style that best suits them!

Steps to Proper Phone Etiquette

There are a few steps to ensure proper phone etiquette. But be careful not to be so programmed that you begin to treat all customers the same. All calls should not be handled in the same manner. Each customer should feel unique, special, and valued.

Answer All Calls in 15- 20 Seconds

Make sure you have enough employees to answer all calls in a very timely manner. It is extremely normal for people to hang up if no one has answered the phone within five rings. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is that someone answer your phone within 2 to 3 rings, with two being ideal. I can say without any reservations, if you are not answering calls quickly, you are losing sales to your competitors. That problem can be solved even on a small budget by hiring a cheap answering service. All you need is for someone to take the name and phone number to save the sale. That can be done for low as $.40-$.50 a phone call. Is a sale worth that much?

Speak Articulately and Slowly

Be very careful not to speak too fast. Studies show that speaking fast sounds twice as fast when not in person. Meaning, all conversations on the phone automatically sound faster simply because you cannot see facial or lip movements.

It is best practice to speak slowly and clearly. Be sure to articulately explain yourself and answer questions.

How to Answer the Phone

In most scenarios, the best way to answer a business call is by introducing the companies name, your name, and asking how you may help them today. For example:

Thanks for calling ABC Corporation, this is John Smith, how can I help you today?”

You will probably find that most answering service professionals follow that system.

Keep your voice steady and friendly, but not too low. This way you’ll make sure that the other person can understand everything you say without having to repeat yourself over again or shout into their phone microphone like some sort of American Idol reject trying out for The Voice! Phone etiquette says we should optimize our recipients’ experience by doing all things properly- which means following these simple guidelines when talking on a landline: keep it equal throughout the entire call; do not raise/lowered volume depending upon recipient needs.

Every customer deserves a hassle-free experience. If you have ever had the displeasure of speaking with an unscrupulous company, then it’s not hard to understand why every wrong call could lead someone else into Likewise when people don’t feel heard or respected on their last day alive they will find another telecommunications service provider who can meet those demands.

Must Do’s For Good Phone Etiquette

There are certain things and aspects of the professional phone call that will be well-received by a recipient if you do them correctly.

The key to making a good phone call is knowing what you should and shouldn’t do. For example, if someone calls for information then feel free to give it but don’t interrupt them by asking questions or trying too hard to sell the product/service right off of the bat! You also want these tips:  -Be professional at all times with your tone; nobody appreciates being spoken down too so keep things classy –- Be mindful about time limits since we know how quickly conversations go

Be Aware of the Tone in Your Voice

Your voice is the most important thing in connecting you with your caller. The tone of their own voices will tell them about how they feel and what kind of approach or intention it seems like to have; when someone speaks, our brains process language-meaning much more thoroughly than any other sounds that come out (like lip movement).

If you want to deliver high-quality service, then it is important that your tone remains consistent throughout the call. This will allow for equality when providing different types of services and improve efficiency in getting into “on-the-phone mode.

You can avoid sounding like a knife salesman and pushy by not being anxious or aggressive. This is a common problem that people have when they try too hard in conversation, so you’ll find it easier to keep speaking with them if your tone remains calm and collected!

The customer wants to feel like he’s talking to the appropriate person who can answer all of his questions. You should sound confident so you don’t let him down!

Sitting up in the chair or standing if you’re more comfortable talking on a phone this way. At all costs do not lean back as it will automatically change how you talk and while sounding like an expert might be nice, what we really want is someone who sounds professional- everyone can’t sound great!

Speak Correct Language

We know there are some cultures and age groups that speak using improper language.  And that’s perfectly acceptable in a private setting with family and friends.

Don’t use unprofessional language when you are on the phone for business. If your tone is very casual, people will think that it’s not really important to them and their needs for help or advice- in fact just quite opposite! They’ll view this person more like an acquaintance than someone who cares about taking care of others with words because using swore phrases makes one sound tough.

Using professional vernacular ensures clients feel safe by giving off a sense that there’s somebody invested enough personally (give repetition) which means professionalism goes both ways: clientele sees themselves as valued customers while professionals retain respect.

Anger is a common emotion that many people experience. The best way to handle anger from customers and other patrons in your business, whether they are angry about something you have done or just venting out frustration with life as it brings them down the moment afterward – do NOT try to keep up! Rather stay calm using peaceful language while trying your level-best not let yourself lose control over how intense this person’s feelings may become towards what feels like unfair circumstances at work today.

It can be difficult to maintain a professional tone of voice when speaking with colleagues and clients, but you’ll find that the rule of three rings helps get in sync before taking on calls.

Remain Uplifting

Regardless of the type of caller, make sure to have an encouraging cheerful phone voice.

Sometimes people are in a bad mood and it’s important to be mindful of that. Remembering your customer is just like you, with both good days and bad ones will help optimize phone etiquette for every situation.

You may find yourself in a difficult situation if you happen to receive the call from your prime. You need positivity, which is provided by bringing out our best attributes and skills.

Next, you should try to understand why they’re feeling the way that they do. You’ll relate more closely to their problem and get a deeper insight into what actually is happening in an interaction if you know both sides of it!

The more positive you are the happier your customers will be. Remember that, and always remain cheerful in order to keep them smiling! It can be difficult when someone is negative towards you but try not let it get under your skin- make sure they have a good time while on their phone call with YOU by being friendly and helpful.

Be Attentive | Active Listening

To be proactive during the call, make sure you are paying attention and don’t miss any important information. It will help with understanding your customer’s objections or problems they might have so that when it comes time for service at their house, everything runs smoothly!

Being present during a call can help you to better understand the customer. If they get distracted for even just seconds, it is hard not to hear what has been said and that’s going to make them feel unimportant as well as making your work environment less professional than necessary- which wouldn’t have happened with this tone in mind! Stay focused by staying engaged both visually (eye contact), auditorily/verbally(active listening), and mentally. (keeping up on current topics).

It’s important to show customers that you know them. If they see a salesman who isn’t listening or remembering details from their last visit, it will make them nervous and not want help with anything else in future visits because of how unimpressive this makes the agent look on his/her end as well!

It’s very easy for an employee working at your company storefront location (e-commerce site) where clients come through every day – he can easily become invisible if you are trying hard enough but I’m here today telling all those people out there who own businesses themselves: remember each customer uniquely by name too; treat him differently based off what products s/he needs vs wants?

It is no longer necessary to take notes using pen and paper. Instead, you can use the software that lets your make calls as well as talk on them at once for easy note-taking—the best way of getting all important information about your customer’s pain points without any hassle!

Must Never Do’s Phone Etiquette 

Professional service providers and customers often misunderstand one another because they don’t always follow everyday-life rules. This can lead to serious confusion when a customer expects professionalism while you are trying your best in an office environment with coworkers, family members or friends around


Under no circumstances should you speak with a customer is speaking. And that includes when they are completely wrong. Let them finish their thoughts entirely to avoid interrupting. Interrupting never ends up being a win-win scenario.

Here are some tips for staying calm no matter how angry your customer is. When they’re done talking, make sure you thank them and let them go on their way with a smile (even if that means letting snappy phrases slip out).

It might seem like the worst thing to do would be saying “But sir/ma’am…. .but it never leads anywhere good! Letting someone finish speaking only invites more arguments; giving in always works better than pushing back”.

There is a thin line between being rude and throwing punches over the phone. What I mean by that, there are some rules of etiquette which you have to follow in order not make customers feel uncomfortable when they call us for help with their problem.

Listening to customer complaints is often annoying and painful, but it can come in handy when we need a little bit of that wisdom for ourselves. However, if someone just curses at an agent without any reason (as happens all too often), such as because their product didn’t work properly even after they were aware there was something wrong with the service), then those employees should be able to interrupt them or hang up completely so things don’t escalate further than necessary

Listening closely during difficult conversations may seem like one thing anyone would rather avoid doing; however vernacular cues give us insight into better ways within which individuals speak about themselves while talking through frustrations.


Not only should you avoid interrupting callers, but you also need to be willing to allow them to interrupt you, no matter how rude it is.

For those times you need a break from all the hustle and bustle, it is recommended that one use earbuds with an outside noise canceling feature. You won’t hear any of these distractions going on around them as well! These headphones also come equipped with microphones so your recipient will not have to listen in on anything else either which makes for more privacy during calls.

It’s important to set boundaries with your colleagues, so make sure they know not to interrupt you when on the phone. This way of doing things will avoid unnecessary and awkward situations for everyone involved! Stress that according to phone etiquette all calls need perfect attention from both parties in order to be effective – including yourself as well since this is also part of what makes or breaks them.

One way to limit distractions and maximize productivity is by getting rid of any loud noises. The best place for this? A quiet space where you can make calls without interruption, like a library or room upstairs that nobody uses!


All too often people can absolutely detect when you have them on speaker, and quite frankly in a professional setting, it’s very rude. Of course, there are exceptions, such as conference calls or when driving, etc.

Your customers are distracted by everything around them, which makes it difficult for them to listen and understand what you’re saying. Plus they hear themselves in the background while talking through an app or speakerphone so their attention wanders just as easily!

If you want to make sure that your customers are happy with their experience, it is important for them not only to feel heard but also like they were a priority. If all this sounds too difficult or overwhelming then I’d recommend reaching out to someone who can help!

Speakerphone doesn’t have to be a last resort. Make sure you don’t overuse it and avoid loud spaces when on speakerphone because of phone etiquette rules, but speakers can provide an excellent benefit in certain cases for business calls only.

Find a quiet space with no echo and background noises to ensure the customer’s experience is as good, if not better than on landlines.


Sometimes people feel like they need to have an answer to every question. And the truth is, it’s just not always going to be possible. It’s OK to not know everything. If they call or ask you a question if you don’t have an answer to it is perfectly fine to say something to the tune of “that’s a great question, but make sure I give you accurate information let me check with the owner and I’ll get back to you promptly with an answer”.

In a world where customers can always find an answer to their questions on the internet, it’s only natural that you’ll sometimes not know what they’re talking about. Don’t try and get away with half-answers or by changing topics when this happens though because there will be no point in being kept up to date as your business grows!

If you’re not sure about the answer, admit it. If that doesn’t work out either way then put them on hold and get back with an update as soon as possible! Don’t make people wait too long or they will become frustrated because of how much time passed since their call was answered first-hand by someone else who could help them better than yourself (I know I am).

Afterward thank customers for waiting while taking care to inform those calling in advance so there are no surprises when returning from a quick distraction or break.

Sometimes, when customer service representatives are too busy to answer your question quickly and accurately. Another solution might be transferring the call so someone else can help you out instead of wasting time on hold with no resolution in sight! If there’s an employee or agent nearby that has experience providing answers – let them take over; this will show customers how much faith we have in their expertise and make sure they feel valued as well. We should also inform our clients ahead if we know for certain an answer could take longer than usual because then everyone knows what to expect.

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