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The Best Way to Answer and Talk on the Phone

Updated on September 18, 2014

Think before you pick it up!

Answer and communicate like a pro!

I have managed several concerns over the years, and have found that phone conversations can seriously harm or help an organization or business. If you stop and think about it, your customers may contact you first via the telephone, or if the staff is substandard, your customer's last words to your concern can come via the telephone!

Chances are you do not own a McDonnald's and can not afford the wrong type of communication between you and your consumers. Remember, what you say on your worst day and what your staff says, is remembered as what you said! It reflects on your personality and tells people whether or not you are in charge and professional.

Here are the simple do's, matched with the simple don'ts-


Do say- Good (morning, afternoon, evening)" thank you for calling "Party All Day Inc.", this John Doe, how may I help you today?"

Don't say- Yeah hello, or Can I help you,or This is Grumpy Inc. , or anything like that!

In fact, stick with the top example. Why? You start by wishing them a good day, tell them your name (which is a technique used to make friends), and you ask what you can do to make thier day even better. Yes, with a pleasant tone, the first greeting does all of that!


Do use a pleasant, cheerful voice! -

Whatever your day is like, smile when you talk and make sure you sound happy and willing to help! I can hear a smile over the phone.

Don't allow a bad day or mood dictate your voice and choose your words! People can easily hear a frown or an attitude in your voice. They can also hear a smile! Now, ask yourself which you prefer to hear.


If a question you can not answer is asked...

Do ask if you can place that person on hold and quickly ask someone who will know. If you can not get an answer, politely state that the person to speak with is unavailable and you will have them call the customer back. Then write a clear message to the employee and make sure it gets delivered A.S.A.P. NOTE:Yes it is your responsibility to know who the go to people at work are!

Don't ever make up an answer, or say I don't know, call back tomorrow. That should get you in deep trouble. Do not argue and say anything close to "I'm sorry, I can't help you". YOU ARE PAID TO HELP! Do not put some one on hold without asking. Treat them how you want to be treated. NOTE: Never hang up or raise your voice, no matter how big the jerk is and how aggravated you are getting!


Do say "May I please place you on hold", or "I will look into that for you, are you able to hold for one moment?"

Don't ever say "Ya hold on" or "Wait a second will ya" . Do not even come close to saying anything like that! "Don't say I'm Busy" or "I'm sorry you are upset, but..." You are there to fix problems! End of discussion. Even the janitor can not talk like this to customers, so don't you do it.


Do try to keep your customer happy! Keep it light and try to solve every problem while being friendly. Forget the other work you have for now. This person on the phone can make or break your day!

Don't argue, become sarcastic, or act arrogant...unless you want to be fired! Customers do not have to take this behavior and many won't!

A STORY- While managing a historical museum that taught Haudenosaunee Indian History, I supervised several staff. One was there to copy and file documents. He was told to stay off the phone because he failed to be effective on it too many occasions. One day I entered the office to find that he answered an unusual call. Some who had a recently deceased Indian Grandfather wanted to see if he could be buried on our property. My employee decided to engage in a 5 minute argument until I became wise to it. I immediately had the call placed on hold and pulled the staff member into my office. I showed him again, how to handle this irate caller. She was irate because of how he treated her! I simply got her name and number and told her that this request needed to be brought to the highest level. I offered to make that request on her behalf as I has a good rapport with the executive. Then she calmed down and was fine. If I can't grant or deny such a request, why was my subordinate trying to do so? It's food for thought!

Take a message and be polite while doing it!


Do keep a record of calls from difficult people. Help them however you can, then cover yourself! Your boss needs to know the truth for you to avoid unwarranted discipline!

Don't be rude or difficult and try to get away with it! That will bite you hard eventually.


Do set an example! Be the cheerful, kind and helpful person, even if no one else is.

Don't act rude or short and think it is o.k. because some one else did it! The "Don'ts on here are never acceptable! The Do's can be learned and practiced by any one!


Trust me, when you make the day of an angry or frustrated person with your attitude rather than your knowledge, you are a hero! Be exceptional, not poor or average! I hope this serves as a useful training tool for any one that answers a phone a supervises an office.

Please leave me your stories, questions, and comments.


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    • MikeSyrSutton profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      Thankyou! I hope this helps!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      8 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I only hope so many more read this informative hub.

      Great telephone advice!

    • MikeSyrSutton profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      Thank you! As basic as these tips are, the opposite is practiced far too often.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      8 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Good useful tips here. On answering, I used to coach my employees to always include their name. "XYZ Corp, this is John, how may I help you" beats "XYZ corp how may I help you." Voted up and useful


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