Receptionist Etiquette: 5 Things to Avoid Saying on the Phone

Our virtual receptionists are great at knowing what to say to make a caller’s day, and they’re also pros at knowing what not to say. At Ruby®, we love sharing our telephone answering knowledge!

If fielding phone calls is part of your job, the Ruby team suggests avoiding these five phrases:

“I can’t.”

As a receptionist, you want to help your callers get to where they need to go, and “I can’t” is a dead end. Even if you can’t do exactly what your caller asks, you can provide some kind of help. Think of what you can do, and offer to do it. Instead of this…

Caller: I need to reset my online password. Can you help me with that?

Receptionist: I can’t. I’ll connect you with our tech support department.

…get rid of “I can’t” and move on to the good stuff.

Receptionist: Let me put you in touch with our tech support department. They’ll be happy to help you with that.

I don’t know.

You may not have the answer to your caller’s question, but saying “I don’t know” gets you nowhere. Bypass “I don’t know” and move on to the next part: putting the caller in touch with someone who does know.

“Great question! Diana in our sales department will be happy to answer it. Let me put you in touch with her.”

“That’s a good question! Let me find the best person to answer it.”

She/he is on the other line.

Although it may be true, telling your caller that “Ms. Smith is on the other line” can cause trouble. Your caller may infer that Ms. Smith will return the call as soon as she’s off that other line, and that may not be true. Another potential hitch: your caller might ask to wait on hold until Ms. Smith is available, and if you’re not sure Ms. Smith wants to talk to your caller as soon as she’s free, things can get tricky.

Hold, please.

Sure, you’re going to need to place callers on hold from time to time, but it’s best to ask permission first. Rather than “Hold, please,” go with “May I place you on hold for a moment?” Our live virtual receptionist team always asks first, and when a caller declines to be placed on hold, we don’t press the Hold key.

Just a sec.

This phrase is a little informal. Trade “Just a sec” in for the classic, classier “One moment, please,” and let your professionalism shine!

Not sure your call-handling is up to snuff? Not sure if you care? Discover the ROI of personal connections in our free guide!

Free guide: The ROI of Personal Connections


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*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.