Receptionist Etiquette Tip: Four Ways to Say It Better

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Wondering how to ask who is calling professionally? Transfer a call with style? Hoping to impress every caller? We can help.

Here at Ruby, we’re all about growth. From how we greet callers to elevating employee experience, finding new ways to improve the way we do things is a part of our culture.

Over the years, and through thousands upon thousands of phone calls, our live virtual receptionists have discovered some “do’s” and “do not’s” in the way of telephone etiquette. We’ve assembled a call-handling guide to help you “Ruby-fy” your phone skills and show callers you care:

Don’t say what.

Your tone is just as important as your content during a conversation, if not more so.  A short question like “What?” can sound brusque to a caller, even when delivered delicately.  If you need to clarify what your caller said, add some padding to your query.  Try “Would you mind repeating that?” instead of a simple “What?”

Put some may in your day.

Again, padding a question can help it feel friendlier.  Rather than asking “What is your name?” or “Who is this?” opt for this standby: “May I ask who is calling?”  In fact, beginning with “May I” is a surefire way to soften just about any question well. 

Try these on for size:

“May I have your telephone number?”

“May I ask what company you’re with?”

“May I offer you his voicemail?”

“May I take a message?”

Pretty classy, right?

Preface your pause politely.

When you need a short conversational break to research a caller’s question,  it’s best to introduce the upcoming pause.  Skip “Just a second” and “Just a sec,” even if a few seconds of silence is all you need. Instead, keep it professional and polite with a phrase like “One moment, please.” If you need more than a few seconds, though, always be sure to follow the next guideline…

Ask before pressing the hold key.

Even the magic word can’t make a statement like “Hold, please” sound warm. But how do you ask someone to hold the phone?

Before treating your caller to a bit of hold music, ask permission.  “May I place you on hold for a moment?” is the Ruby standard. It’s that simple!

Another tip from our live virtual receptionist crew is to thank the caller when resuming your conversation.  “Thank you so much for your patience” is a great way to get back into the flow of a call.

A final Ruby must: If your caller declines to be placed on hold, don’t place the call on hold. Instead, stay on the line as you do what you need to do.

Missed calls are missed opportunities.

Discover what a virtual receptionist is, and how we can help you boost your bottom line in our free ebook!


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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 cancelled 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.