Rules for Office Telephone Etiquette

Office telephone etiquette is essential for maintaining a professional image for a business and its employees. In most cases, the initial contact to a company is made with the receptionist and first impressions are formed. So whether you're a secretary, receptionist or call center operator, practicing proper office telephone etiquette can ensure that the customer feels important and informed.

  1. Focus On The Call

    • Focus your attention on the caller.
      Focus your attention on the caller.

      It's easy to become distracted by noise or the people around you, but remember that the customer has a need to feel important. Distraction interrupts the flow of the conversation and conveys the message that you are not focusing on the customer. If a caller is engaging in an in-depth and detailed inquiry, interject with a quick acknowledgment, such as "Yes, ma'am" or "I understand." This lets the caller know that you are in fact listening to every word with interest.

    Speak Clearly

    • Munching on food during a phone conversation is not appropriate.
      Munching on food during a phone conversation is not appropriate.

      If a person has called for specific information, be sure that information is conveyed in a clear and intelligible manner. Eliminate slang or other inappropriate jargon, and avoid shouting or using a loud tone. Engage the caller with a conversational tone by allowing the caller to interject with questions. After the explanation, ask the caller if he has any further questions to make sure that he has retained the requested information. Avoid eating or drinking on the phone. Aside from being rude and inappropriate, this is distracting for both parties and muddles the conversation.

    Address Caller Properly

    • Always address callers respectfully and properly.
      Always address callers respectfully and properly.

      Avoid using titles when addressing the caller. According to, using titles may add fuel to the fire of an angry caller. Use the caller's surname. If not given, using no name at all is sufficient. Using an incorrect title to refer to a caller, such as "Miss" or "Mrs.", may irritate her even more.

    Voice Mail Messages

    • Voice mail messages are directly related to phone etiquette. Businesses get busy from time to time, so a caller may have to leave a message. When retrieving voice mail messages, be sure to record all the information such as the caller's name, phone numbers and the specifics of the message. Return the call as promptly as possible. If the caller did not leave enough detail for an answer, promptly call back and ask for further instructions. Give a time frame as to when you will respond to the customer's inquiry.

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  • Photo Credit the operator image by 26kot from phone call image by NiDerLander from potato chips image by vnlit from woman image by Mat Hayward from

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