Learn how to answer the phone professionally, sound like a receptionist, and impress your callers—every time!
It sounds like a bad dream. You’re at your business’s office and you’re short-staffed. Half the workforce isn’t available, including the person who usually handles the phone. You and the rest of the team are up for the challenge, but one question looms:
“Who’s going to answer the phone?”
You find yourself suddenly wondering about the job many people take for granted. How does a receptionist answer the phone anyway? What does it take?
As the boss mutters something about signing up for that phone answering service, it happens: the phone rings, and by chance, you’re standing closest to it.
All eyes are on you. Do you have what it takes?
Fear not! Our live virtual receptionists have your back. If you’re new to taking calls professionally, follow these five steps for flawless phone answering success:
Note: This article was first published in 2018. We updated it in October 2022.
1. Greet your caller graciously.
“Hello” doesn’t cut it. Begin with something nice like “Thank you for calling,” end with a “How may I help you?” and be sure to slip your company name in the middle. Above all, you want to leave your callers with a positive impression! Our greeting guidelines make it simple.
A greeting is an essential step to making that personal, meaningful connection with a caller—the kind of connection that leads to happy and loyal clients or customers. Discover the benefits of real meaningful connections in our free guide.
2. Mind your manners.
You may be new to the receptionist game, but if you’re nice, no one will notice.
Ask for information rather than demanding it, as in “May I say who is calling?” and “May I have your name?” Throw “please” and “thank you” in there as much as possible.
Remember, everyone loves to be treated with respect and the happier your callers are, the happier you’ll be!
3. Deflect with style.
Here’s a little secret every great receptionist knows: it’s not about having the answer to every question, it’s about knowing what to say when you don’t know. “Let me find out for you” and “Let me connect you with the best person to help you” are excellent responses, whereas “I don’t know” is not so much.
4. Avoid dead ends.
When you’re not able to reach the person your caller is seeking, always offer to take a message or transfer the caller to voicemail. Similarly, never make your caller ask to leave a message—it can be uncomfortable and off-putting.
It’s as easy as this:
“Tim’s in a meeting. May I take a message?”
There’s always a way to work in a positive spin!
5. Keep calm and carry on.
We’ve all made mistakes. It’s okay! It’s okay to mess up. It’s okay to be awkward.
At Ruby, our expert virtual receptionists have learned that nearly any flub can be remedied with friendliness.
Being a receptionist isn’t an easy job by any means, but at the end of the day, you’re a person communicating with another person.
The key to answering the phone flawlessly is a personal touch! Be kind, be courteous, and be yourself, and you’re sure to hit any curve ball out of the park.