How to answer a business phone call

From the moment you answer the phone, your customer will be forming their own opinions about your business, and gaining an insight into how you run. Therefore you want this experience to be as good as possible. The best way to do this is to answer the phone in a professional and friendly manner.

Below, we’ve provided some of our best tips to ensure that you’re answering the phone in the right way.

How to be professional on the phone

Answer before the third ring

The worst thing you can do is keep your customers waiting or on hold, as this causes them to become frustrated and possibly even hostile if they’re already calling to complain. You should aim to answer the phone as quickly as possible. If for any reason you can’t get to the phone, you should have a professional answering machine message that encourages users to leave a message. You should then aim to return their call as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, it isn’t easy for busy businesses to answer the phone quickly. If you want to try and improve your customer experience, you could make use of a telephone answering service to ensure all customer calls are answered. Alternatively, you could use a virtual receptionist for this job.

Be warm and friendly

Whenever you answer the phone, you should be warm instead of abrupt or aloof. Even if you’re having a bad day, you shouldn’t let this show on the phone. Avoid snapping down the telephone or answering with a brief ‘Hello’. Instead, you should identify the business and your name immediately, with something along the lines of: ‘Good morning, you’re through to John Lewis. Emily speaking. How can I help?’ This is bright and cheery and shows the customer that they’ve called the right number and who they’re speaking with.

Business woman in an office on the telephone

Avoid using negative words

This can be difficult to master, and it will get easier over time, but you should avoid using negative words or phrases. For example, instead of answering a customer’s query with ‘I don’t know’, instead you could say ‘Let me find out for you’, or ‘Let me pass you over to my colleague who can provide an answer’.

Aim to be as helpful as possible

You should try to resolve the problem by the time you put the phone down. Be as helpful as you can and give the customer as much information as you have available about the problem.

Some queries cannot be solved over the phone, and other queries may take time. If a customer has a problem, you should explain to them that the issue cannot be resolved right now, but you’ll call back when progress has been made. For example, a customer may have phoned to say an item hasn’t been delivered when it was due to arrive. You may have to follow up the item’s location with a delivery company and then call the customer back. You should explain that you’ll try to get the issue resolved, find out where their parcel is and give them a call to keep them updated. You must do as you’ve said and call them to confirm the details.

Ask permission to put them on hold

It’s likely that you may need to put a customer on hold while you look for a piece of information, a document or other piece of data. If this is the case, you should ask the customer if you can put them on hold while you search for it. Don’t leave them on hold for longer than 30 seconds at a time without apologising for their wait.

You should also ask for permission if you want to put them on speakerphone. Many customers might not want a room full of people to hear the call, and may not be happy about it, so it’s polite to check this.

How to introduce yourself in a phone call

You may be making a business call to introduce yourself to a potential new client. For example, you may be calling a local supermarket to ask them about stocking your products. There are certain ways you should go about introducing your business when you’re talking on the phone to give a good impression.

First, you should start off by saying who you are and the name of your business. Then ask to speak to the correct person. You should properly enunciate so that the person on the other end of the phone is able to understand both your name and your business’ name.

Once you’re speaking to the correct person, you should tell them a little bit about your business and the products you sell. Avoid reading from a piece of paper or from memory – the speech will come across a bit robotic and won’t flow as easily. Once you’ve finished, you should ask if they have any questions. It’s just as important to listen to their concerns and answer their questions as it is to sell them your product.

If you can, you should mention the name of the company you’re speaking with around three times during your call. This will show interest and willingness and will make the other person listen more closely to what you’re telling them.

Gemma Harding
Gemma Harding

As Head of Client Services, Gemma is an expert in the telephone answering services industry. With over 20 years of experience in the call handling process she will guide your organisation to an improved customer service strategy. Hobbies include all thing equestrian.