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Carrie’s top tips for telephone etiquette

Moneypenny has spent decades providing receptionist and PA services to thousands of businesses across multiple business sectors, from estate agents to plumbers and large corporations too, and our highly skilled staff have perfected the art of being friendly yet efficient.  There is an art to greeting people though, and a recent survey of ours showed that a curt ‘Hello’, used by 26% of small businesses when answering their phone calls, is seen by most as ‘unprofessional’, ‘off-putting’ and even ‘rude’.

Our Ops Manager, Carrie Pickett has spent several years studying the most effective way to answer and handle business calls and greet clients and visitors in person and she is responsible for training the 1,000 Moneypenny PA’s globally who handle thousands of business calls every day. To mark National Receptionists’ Day (12th May), here are Carrie’s top greetings etiquette tips:

Be a ‘GOFI’  God/ Goddess of  First Impressions.  When you answer the phone the person calling will build an instant impression of you.  You want to come across as enthusiastic, helpful and efficient, not rude, bored and grumpy, so move beyond a curt ‘hello’.

Be chirpy but not too chatty.  Business people want to get to the point quickly. You’ve probably got less than six seconds to deal with a caller’s enquiry. It’s friendly to have a line or two of general conversation, but don’t spend several minutes on pleasantries.

Verbally nod! Commit to the words you are saying to make sure you come across as positive and decisive rather than vague or distracted.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, its fine to admit this, but quickly suggest you can find the required information and come back to the caller as soon as possible.  Give a time frame for this; don’t leave it hanging.

Focus on what you can do and not what you cannot.  If you’re busy and can’t go into detail with your caller there and then, take their details and tell them you’ll call back.

Say it with a smile and ensure your tone mirrors your greeting.  If you are physically smiling then this will naturally be translated into an upbeat voice.  It’s a classic, but there is a warmth and energy you only get with a smile. It also sharpens your speech so your words are clearer to the caller.

Be efficient and reassuring. There is no script and one size does not fit all.  Don’t rely on stock phrases or replies. The caller needs to have confidence that you are really listening to them and taking their call seriously, rather than mechanically going through the motions.

Think of each caller as your million-pound customer. How would you speak to them if they wanted to spend £1million with you? That’s how you should greet everyone when you answer the phone. Impress the caller to the point that they can’t wait to work with you.

Be alert and ready when greeting a client or visitor in person.  There’s nothing worse than having to wait for someone to look up and greet you, especially if they seem engrossed in something else and uninterested in helping. It’s essential to greet a visitor with a genuine warm smile and an obvious willingness to help.

Our Group CEO Joanna Swash says that “the role of the PA and the receptionist should never be under-estimated.  Whether meeting clients or visitors in person or virtually, they create that first valuable impression of a company being called or visited, so it’s vital to make the first contact friendly, warm, and efficient. It’s one of the reasons so many businesses rely on Moneypenny to look after their calls while they get on with running their business. We urge businesses to test out their receptionist and phone answering systems, especially since they may have switched to a virtual reception during the pandemic, and to be honest about the impression received and take action if it is anything less than slick and professional.”

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