Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.2. Answer the telephone according to standard operating procedures

ryanrori January 26, 2021

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Most organisations have company policies and procedures for answering the telephone.  Ensure that you are aware of what these are and what is expected of you to comply with them.

Besides the company policies and procedures, there are a few standard procedures that are considered as good telephone etiquette indicators.  These include:

  • Never ignore a ringing telephone or lift the receiver and drop it, even if it is a colleague’s.  An unanswered telephone may mean a fumbled business opportunity.
  • Do not let the telephone ring many times and then answer as though you are bestowing a favour on the caller.  Apologise by saying: 

”Thank you for waiting. Good morning, this is [Company name] etc.”

This immediately defuses the frustration or anxiety the caller may have built.

  • Stop any conversation, take a deep breath and then lift the receiver.  No matter what you have been doing, answer in a courteous tone that suggests competence and professionalism.
  • Do not eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke when answering the telephone.
  • If you receive a “wrong” number, accept the caller’s apology politely; wrong numbers are never intentional.
  • Never use obscene language or vulgar words in the workplace and you will have no fear of them carrying over an open telephone line.
  • In addition to using good sense and good manners, know and adhere to your company’s telephone protocol.  If management prefers that the company is referred to as 

“Blue Travels Incorporated,” then avoid  “Blue Travels”.

Greet the caller according to organisational requirements

Telephone greetings create such an impression of the organisation that they:

  • should greet the person
  • should identify the company
  • should identify the branch
  • should be short enough to hold the caller’s attention
  • should be clear and simple
  • should be in a nationally accepted language
  • should be easy for people at all levels in the branch to say

Acquire relevant caller information

When people call your workplace, they are calling for a reason. They may want help, information or advice. Sometimes callers are not sure who they want to talk to.

As the person answering the telephone, it is your role to ask the right questions in order to determine the purpose of the call. If the reason for the call is not established, the caller may be unnecessarily transferred from extension to extension. 

  • Remember; never sound hurried, bored or impatient with the caller. 
  • They are doing you and your organisation a favour by calling.

When you offer to help, you need enough information from the caller before you can outline what the next step is. The best way to get this information is by asking open-ended questions. 

Open-Ended Questions

An open-ended question is one that requires more than a one-word answer. 

Open-ended questions begin with:

  • what
  • why
  • which
  • when
  • where
  • how
  • who

The following are some examples of open-ended questions you can use.

  • How may I help you?
  • What is the purpose of your call?
  • Who can give me that information?
  • Do you know the name of the person who handled your query?
  • What information do you require?

The questions you ask will depend on the situation. However, always remember that open-ended questions will get you the information you need.