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Telephone Etiquette

Telephone Etiquette - Tips and Techniques

Adapted from a Carleton College memo 8/02

When you are the person answering a call, you represent the College. Your helpfulness, courtesy, efficiency and knowledge - all reflect on the entire school. Remember - the caller could be anyone.

  1. Answering calls for others
    • Identify yourself and the department/person for whom you are answering and ask, "How may I help you?" (ex. "ITS Academic Quickline, this is _____, how may I help you?")
    • Offer assistance in the absence of others--say, "She is not available, may I help you?"
    • Do not make commitments for others--say, "I'll give him your message when he returns," rather than "He will call you as soon as he returns."
    • When using HEAT, take accurate, complete messages detailing the problem, urgency, the best time to reach the person, and any other pertinent information.
    • If you do not know the answer, offer to find it. Never give the caller the impression that there is nothing you can do to help them, even if all you can do is direct them to a more appropriate resource.
  2. Transferring Calls
    • Explain the reason for the transfer (ex. "Let me connect you with Paula Lackie, she is likely to have a solution for your problem.") Use the name of the person you are transferring to and provide the phone number/extension whenever possible.
    • Know the transfer instructions for the telephone system so that you do not cut off your caller.
  3. Handling Complaints By Phone
    • Listen Carefully
    • Convey sincere interest and be sympathetic (Note: This is particularly important with frustrated users).
    • Remain calm and courteous. Do not argue.
    • Do not interrupt the caller.
    • Act fast--deliver the message to the appropriate person in a timely manner.
  4. Placing Calls
    • Plan your call. Knowing what you need to say will make your call brief and effective.
    • Identify yourself and the department from which you are calling and quickly state your business.
  5. Qualities of a good voice
    • Unhurried speech
    • Distinctiveness
    • Pleasantness/warmth
  6. Tips for creating a good image
    • Use basic phrases of courtesy: "May I help you, Please, Thank you, You're welcome."
    • Avoid slang: "uh huh, yeah, nope, dude, or bye bye for good bye."
    • Avoid jargon! Using technical words that the user does not understand will only frustrate and confuse the user. Remember that he/she probably has less computing experience than you.
    • Explain all problems as simply as possible, using terms and analogies if necessary to ensure that the user understands the nature both of the problem and of the solution.
    • Do not chew gum or eat while talking on the phone.
    • Smile while speaking. People can "hear a smile" over the phone!