Phone Etiquette: 3 Easy Ways to Improve

by Jun 5, 2017

Sometimes in life, it’s the little things that count – and having proper phone etiquette is one of those little things. If you’ve ever worked in a customer service role, chances are you’ve been required to answer the phone from time to time, and know that you should be talking on the phone with the same (if not more) enthusiasm than if the customer was there in person. Even in non-customer facing roles, being able to communicate effectively over the phone is a good skill to have (even if it is often not specifically mentioned in job ad’s selection criteria).

How do you improve your phone etiquette? A lot of it is practice, preparation, and simply being confident in how you present yourself. So, on that note, here are a few quick and easy tips on how you can improve your phone etiquette!

Get your greetings right

One of the easiest ways to stumble up when answering the phone is forgetting the company greeting. Often, this is because work can get busy and you pick up the phone without first thinking of what you’re going to say.

Read more: Why Even The Most ‘Pointless’ Work Experiences Are So Worthwhile 

If you’re answering the phone on behalf of your company (rather than your personal phone), there’s usually a basic greeting they will want you to go by. If not, you should generally stick with something like: ‘Hi! This is (company name), (your name) speaking. How can I help you?’. Practice a few times, or even leave a note by the phone with the greeting if you’re new at the job, to help prevent you from overthinking things and forgetting the order of things to say.

The sign-off at the end of the conversation is also important. Generally speaking, you should thank the customer (by name, if possible), and ask if there’s anything else you can do for them. If they say no, then you can wish them a good day and hang up. Too easy!

Focus on your voice

Okay, so even though they can’t actually see you, people on the other end of the phone can hear whether you’re smiling or not. The lilt of your words change with the shape of your mouth, so put the effort in to smiling when you answer the phone.

Outside of smiling, it’s important to remember that the person on the other end of the phone can’t see you, so they miss out on any visual cues you’re giving (like body language, facial expression, etc.). This means that you’ve got to put a little extra effort into ensuring that your voice comes off as enthusiastic and interested, to make up for the lack of visuals.

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Don’t interrupt

If you’ve been in the job for a while, you’ll likely hear the same sort of enquiries on repeat, so it can be easy to assume you’ll know what the other person is asking before they finish. Even if you’re pressed for time, don’t interrupt the caller to answer their question before they’ve finished asking it. Not only is it pretty rude (and not a good look if you’re paid to provide quality customer service), but you may find that the question you assumed is not actually the one they are asking.

Wait for the other person to ask their question, and then try to help answer it. You may even find that letting the customer finish may save time, as they might provide details you would later need to ask them.

Final tips

There are a dozen small ways to improve your phone etiquette, but if you focus on the ones mentioned above, and remain as professional, calm, and polite as possible, you’re already off to a flying start. Some final bits of advice?

  • Keep a piece of paper and a pen (or some other way to record details) near the phone. Forgetting their name or a key piece of information can not only be embarrassing, but a bad look for the company as a whole.

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  • If you aren’t able to help the person on the other end of the phone, try to provide them an alternative resolution. This could be passing on a message to your supervisor, transferring the call to someone more qualified, or even taking down their details to call back later if a solution arises.
  • This might sound a bit strange, but try not to answer the phone on the first ring. Even though they are calling expecting to talk with someone, you don’t want to startle them! Likewise, don’t leave the phone to ring for a long time (if possible). If your workplace often gets busy enough that you can’t answer the phone, make sure there is a voicemail option so you can get back to the caller later on.

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.

By Mia Casey

By Mia Casey


Mia is a Sydney-based copywriter and content creator, who ran the UTS Careers Blog for five years since its conception in 2016.
Her freelance work focuses on branding development and helping companies create a cohesive identity narrative tailored for each of their platforms.
She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.