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How Should A Receptionist Answer The Phone

In any type of business, the first port of communication is often with a receptionist. The way in which the receptionist speaks, and conducts themselves is going to immediately reflect on your business; affecting your customer loyalty, or impacting your business in either a negative or positive way. Most good receptionists have an excellent telephone manner and voice that is uplifting and helpful, whilst maintaining this throughout. Without exceptional communication skills, you will lack the means to retain customers and may even lose them in the process. Every company is represented by their receptionist; so a clear and well spoken telephone voice is key, as well as being able to convey information quickly and efficiently with a helpful tone and manner is vital.

Put yourself into the shoes of a customer/client calling your business. What do you want to hear on the other side of the phone? Often, poor telephone manners and unhelpful receptionists can leave the recipient feeling unsure and unhappy; which in the worst case scenario could result in complaints. If the receptionist is abrupt, unclear or unhelpful, this is going to badly affect the business; which doesn’t have to happen. The way in which to avoid it? Train your receptionist up to your standard and expect them to maintain this level of quality every single day, no matter who is on the telephone. So how exactly should these be implemented and can good telephone manners actually improve business? Let’s delve deeper.

The top tips that will ensure you are doing things right.

If you have a receptionist in your business, they should be well aware of your brand, what you do and how they are expected to behave with people on the telephone. Some of the most common things to note when you are training your receptionist is politeness and of course an uplifting voice that instils both confidence and assurance into the caller. You must be sure to look at:

  • Always being available to answer calls, never leaving people on hold unless it is to refer them to another person or to find information.
  • Smile whilst answering the phone, this will improve the tone of voice of the receptionist and give the company credibility in its execution of telephone calls.
  • Be polite. Have a standard greeting that is inline with the company.
  • Use manners.
  • Stay organised and on top of work.
  • Listen carefully and ask questions only when needed.
  • Communicate effectively and promptly.
  • Verify information to ensure it is accurate.
  • Ask the caller's permission and do not assume they have information at the ready.

Often people are calling for information relating to your business; so it’s important that the receptionist is well versed with the company. This kind of knowledge shows a passion for the company; if people seem happy to work there, and they are offering vital knowledge and information on request immediately, it shows a sense of enthusiasm. Leaving the line quiet or being unable to answer questions on request shouldn’t happen but if it does, then a calm and quiet “I will certainly find out for you, one moment please” shows that you are able to offer an alternative.

Stumbling on words can also look unprofessional. Whilst we all stutter from time to time, it is important to rey and limit this; which comes from a calm and cool tone and not rushing any conversations. Sounding calm and speaking at a steady pace will allow the caller to absorb information easier as well as making them feel as if the receptionist is fully in control of the situation and will return with the information needed.

When telephone manners have a negative impact on business.

The way in which we communicate speaks volumes. Often it is not what is being said, but rather the tone of which in which it is said. Take the simple phrase, “What is the problem?” can be interpreted in many different ways dependent on the tone of voice. A sluggish, irritated tone of voice is going to make the caller feel as if they are unhappy that they have called back again or that they are a burden. All of these must be eliminated. Poor tone of voice can also lead to miscommunication and if this occurs, it will certainly affect your business negatively.

You would not want a customer to call up and feel as if they are not in good hands. If you do not offer alternatives to a caller then it can leave them feeling misunderstood or may feel unvalidated in their request. For example if they are ringing to speak to a specific team member and the receptionist replies with “Sorry they’re not in at the moment. Can you call back?” it puts the onus back onto the caller and becomes their problem that the person they’re trying to reach isn’t in. This can lead to the caller not ringing back at all or feeling unsure and unhappy that their problem isn’t resolved. Ensuring that you put positive spins on these situations is going to put the power back into the hands of the caller. A perfect way to handle a negative is to say “Sorry they’re not in at the moment but I will take a message and have them call your back at your earliest convenience.” A polite and helpful retort will resolve the issue and all parties are happy.

Difficulties and rude callers

It is true that nobody in the workplace should deal with rude people on the phone; however it is a fact of life that some callers can be easily irritated and will perhaps become argumentative and volatile. As a receptionist, it’s important to learn to let these complaints run off your back, and engage as a professional. If a receptionist argues back, this will have a negative impact and should never be encouraged. Asking them to politely calm down is a great way to try to diffuse a situation, as well as agreeing with the caller, “yes I understand your frustration” or “I appreciate your anger, I will do my best to resolve this” is going to have a positive impact and the caller may feel as if they are being taken seriously.

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