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Telephone Etiquette

April 2, 2013 by Dr. Jon Warner in Customer Service

Telephone Etiquette

Every call is an opportunity to provide service that adds value to a caller—this is the case whether the person on the other end of the line is an internal colleague or an external customer. The emphasis should therefore be on providing excellent telephone service: after all, without good service, there would be no business! No organization will survive if it treats its requests for information and assistance poorly, and initial telephone contact usually sets the tone.

Before you answer any telephone calls, it is important to organize yourself in a number of ways. The first of these is for every individual to prepare for the phone response that may be required in a number of different situations. For example, someone may raise similar queries on a regular basis. In such circumstances, make sure that you have information at hand or that you are familiar with what is required. For example, if you get lots of questions about a policy or procedure, it is always useful to read it carefully and make notes for yourself where necessary.

In basic terms, the caller should be offered a number of benefits arising out of the conversation such as:


It is important for the caller to know that they are dealing with a professional. This is someone who demonstrates that he or she is trained and competent to maturely handle any requests and will do so in a calm, efficient and business-like manner.


This involves ‘going the extra mile’ for the customer or providing a level of service that at least meets expectations at a standard the customer would expect, but if possible, exceeding those expectations.


There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing whether the person you are talking to is really going to take action. As a result, it is critical to crisply describe what follow-up actions you propose to take and to assure the caller that you will follow through.


In survey after survey of ‘lost’ customers, casual, uncaring staff, who were unwilling to help or even listen properly are cited as the main reason for going elsewhere. Demonstrating that you care and are willing to help at all times is therefore an essential message to communicate.


After many calls in a day, the temptation to be cool or “off-hand” with a customer may be quite high. However, the temptation needs to be resisted and a positive, friendly and warm attitude maintained at all times. This is includes maintaining good manners and being unflustered throughout (even when a customer may have become rude or unfriendly).

Every one of the above entails that every person taking a phone call has a positive frame of mind and attitude (even when they may not feel this way some of the time). The ‘can do’ mentality is usually infectious and by helping each caller, the caller is more likely to emulate the attitude displayed or at least keep things on a more professional footing.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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