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Unlock the Secrets to Telephone Etiquette


Telephone etiquette is a term referring to the proper way to receive, transfer, and place calls.

Callers will form an impression of you and the University in the first thirty seconds of the conversation. Did you know that on the telephone a caller forms a first impression of you and the University in about thirty seconds?

Use this first thirty seconds to project a positive and professional image.

Use this time to create a professional image of the University and your department.

Callers who are treated rudely will remember the encounter. Next time they call, they will be quicker to express anger.

Think about a time that you called a company only to be treated rudely. The impression was probably not very favorable. Even though you may have been treated pleasantly by everyone else in the company, that first contact may have stuck in your mind and may have prevented you from doing business there again. If students and others at UMKC are treated rudely they may decide to attend school or do business elsewhere. Many callers will assume that if they are treated inadequately in one department, all departments will potentially offer unsatisfactory service. Then again, many callers may not have the option of taking their business elsewhere and because they may have initially been treated badly, a negative impression of the University sticks in their mind. You may then find yourself dealing, in the future, with callers who are very quick to express anger the minute you answer the phone. They still remember that unpleasant encounter. It is unfortunate that we are more likely to remember negative experiences rather than positive ones. Many more people will write a letter of complaint rather than one noting a particularly helpful employee. This is because good service is always expected, and can, to some extent, be taken for granted. This may be discouraging for the person who makes the effort to follow these etiquette guidelines regularly, but you have to remember that you are helping to create a positive and professional image of yourself, your department, and the entire University.

Regardless of your mood, treat every caller with courtesy and respect.

Remember, even if you are having a bad day, it is not the caller’s fault. Therefore all callers should be treated with respect, even if they are having a bad day, and let you know it! In the long run, following these tips may help you avoid having to deal with angry, unhappy callers and will hopefully create a more pleasant work environment.

Secret Number Two: ANSWER PROMPTLY

Let's discuss telephone answering and the tips of secret number two.

Prompt answering helps to build a reputation of efficiency for you and the University.

Answer the telephone promptly, preferably on the first or second ring.

Always use a greeting and state your name when answering the phone.

Always state a greeting and your name when answering. Callers like to know they have reached the correct department and it feels more personable to them if they know to whom they are speaking. If you state your name and act pleasantly and professional the caller will always think of you as someone trustworthy to speak to.

Keep a notepad, pen, and the Faculty & Staff Directory close to your telephone for quick reference and to enable you to quickly jot down the caller's information.

It is a good idea, I think essential, to keep a notepad and pen nearby to jot down caller information. There is nothing more frustrating to you, the caller, and the person you are trying to relay a message to, than lack of information. If you can quickly jot down the caller's name and number at least you can get in touch with them for further information. Of course, always try to jot down as much information as you will need to assist the caller. If you have to call back to get information that was given the first time you waste precious time. Even worse, if the client has to call back to find out what is causing the delay he or she may be very angry to find out that the delay is caused by failure to record all the information he/she gave to you in the first call. If you are frequently moving around the office carry the pen and paper with you so you will not be caught without the proper materials to record information. It is also a good idea to have the Faculty/Staff Directory handy in case you have to transfer calls. You should always be aware of where to send callers in various situations.

Know functions of other departments on campus. This will improve your skill in transferring calls to the correct destination.

This means knowing thoroughly the functions of your department and being familiar with functions of the other departments on campus. When transferring calls to not depend on the Campus Operators. Callers tend to get angry when they are transferred to several locations before finding the person that can help them.

Concentrate on the caller.

It takes concentration to handle telephone calls well. Being tuned-in every instant is a must. Do not try to carry on a second conversation with someone in your office. Callers are generally perceptive enough to know when they are not receiving your undivided attention.

Know how your telephone works. Any problems should be reported to the Telecommunications Repair Line at 816-235-1191.

You should also know how your telephone works so that you can always feel confident when transferring, conferencing, putting calls on hold, and picking up other extensions in your department. (Attend phone equipment class or refer to page three of the Campus Directory.) If you have any problems with your phone be sure to promptly report the trouble to the help line at 816-235-1191.

Secret Number Three: SPEAK DISTINCTLY

Smile when you answer the telephone.

It's important to smile when you answer. The voice with a smile says only positive things about you and the University. It is important to smile when you answer the telephone. A voice with a smile in it sounds enthusiastic and friendly to callers. Callers want to feel that they are welcome and appreciated. They are more apt to feel this way when they are greeted by a friendly voice.

Establish a proper environment for answering business calls.

Make sure that you establish the proper environment for answering business calls. This means keeping background noise to a minimum, like co-workers conversing or having the radio on loudly.

Not only what you say to callers, but also how you say it affects the way they will perceive you.

Not only what you say, but also how you say it affects the way callers perceive you. Even if you have heard the same question over and over again, do not be rude or act as if you are bored. No one wants to be treated as if they were imposing on you. If the caller is angry or you are in a hurry, it is still important to keep your voice calm and unhurried. This shows the caller that you are a professional and are not easily flustered. We will speak more on dealing with angry callers and what to do when the phones are extra busy later in this session.

Your speech rate should be kept at a normal pace.

In addition, to help callers to always understand you, keep your rate of speech at a normal level. A normal level is about 180 words per minute. You can check yourself by reading a piece of writing that has 180 words and time yourself for one minute.

Keep your head up.

Your neck should not be scrunched down by the receiver; this can distort your speech. Make sure you keep your head straight and not scrunched when you are speaking on the phone. This may distort your speech and prolong the conversation if you have to repeat what you said to the caller. If it seems that you need to scrunch your neck down because you always need two hands, consider using a headset. I can send you a headset brochure.

Do not use slang or technical terms.

You should avoid using slang or technical terms when taking calls. Callers are probably not as knowledgeable about your department as you are, and they may misunderstand or be confused by technical terms. Your goal in telephone answering is to provide the best possible service in the shortest amount of time. You cannot do this if callers have to ask you to repeat or explain what you are saying. Using slang gives you and your company a careless impression and sounds rude and unprofessional to callers.

Use a caller's name during the conversation.

Callers like to hear their own name being used because it demonstrates that you are paying attention and care about him or her. If you quickly jot down their name at the beginning of the conversation you can refer to it as needed. Jotting the name down also saves you from the embarrassment of having to ask the caller at the end of your conversation, "What was your name again?" No one likes to think his or her name is so unimportant you forgot it in the length of a short phone conversation.

Keep your voice calm and unhurried.

Watch the volume in which you speak into the telephone. You should not be so quiet that callers ask you to repeat things, but you should also never shout at them either. Ideally, you should use your normal speaking voice and volume and keep the transmitter about a half-inch from your lips.

If you need to confer with someone in your department and do not want the caller to hear, use the call hold feature on your telephone.

Be aware that the telephone is very sensitive and covering up the transmitter with your hand will not stop the caller from hearing what you say. The only way to ensure privacy is by using the call hold feature on your telephone.


That leads us to secret number four: placing calls on hold.

Ask the caller's permission before putting them on hold.

If it is necessary to place a call on hold, and with a busy office it often is, ask the caller's permission before doing so and always wait for an answer. Do not keep the caller waiting on hold. Keeping callers on hold gives the impression that their time is not very valuable to your and that they are not very important.

Give them an idea how long you will be away from the telephone.

If you are checking on information, give them an idea of how long you will be away from the phone.

Offer to call back if you have to be away from the phone for a long time.

If it will be a long time or the caller indicates they do not want to hold, ask if you may call them back when you have the information he or she needs. If you have a multi-line phone and a second call comes in you may try to finish up with the first caller if it will only last a few moments. If you must put them on hold, wait until they finish their thought and then politely tell them you need to answer another line and will they please hold? Let them know you will be right back. Answer the second call and ask that party if they will hold. You should then return to complete your conversation with the first caller.

Check back periodically to ask if they will continue to hold.

If the caller is on hold to speak to someone else in your department, check back periodically to let the caller know that person is still unavailable and ask if they would like to continue holding. Try to not let more than thirty seconds pass without checking back with the caller. In some cases it may be helpful to offer to give the person in your office a message or just give the caller the staff person's direct dial number so they can call back later. You may also want to give them the option of being transferred to that person's voice mail so they can leave their own personal message. Does everyone know how to transfer to voice mail?

Apologize for the delay when you return to the telephone.

Finally, be sure to apologize for any delay when you return to the phone. Callers will appreciate your courtesy.


Whether you transfer to voice mail or someone else's extension it is important that the proper etiquette is involved.

Know the proper way to transfer a call on your telephone. Do not disconnect the caller.

First of all you should be aware of the proper way to transfer a call on your telephone. Disconnecting a caller, especially one calling long distance or from a pay phone is very frustrating to them and does not denote a very professional image of you.

Be familiar with department functions so a call will only be transferred once.

Also, be aware of your department's functions so that the caller is not transferred from one person to another to get an answer. This tends to make callers and angry and makes your department look inept.

Always announce to the caller that you are transferring their call. Tell them the name of the department or individual they will be speaking with.

You should always let the caller know you are going to transfer their call and to which department or staff person they will be speaking. In most cases, when you are transferring a call, it is also courteous to announce the call. This is especially important if you can supply some information gained from your own conversation with the caller that will assist the new party in helping the caller. Anything you can do to keep the caller from having to repeat the same information they just gave you is helpful. It also makes you and your department look efficient is the second party can hop right in and say, "I was apprised of your situation, here is what we will do...” If your phone lines are very busy it may be impossible to spend the extra time involved in announcing a transferred call, use your best judgment.

It is courteous to announce the call to the party to whom you are transferring. Let them know any information that will make their call handling more efficient.


When people are away from the office there are several important things you can do to ensure that callers still receive the best service possible.

If a caller wants to speak with a person who is not in the office, tell them the party they wish to speak to is away from their desk. Give them an idea when the person will be back, and ask if you can take a message.

First of all, if a callers want to speak with a person who is not in the office, tell the caller they are not available, let them know when that person will be back, and ask if you can take a message or transfer to that person's Octel mailbox.

Do not give out personal information concerning the whereabouts of people away from the department.

You do not need to give out personal information like the person is at lunch, in the restroom, or that they are vacationing in Florida for a week. Most callers just want to know when they may expect a return phone call. If you tell them, for instance, that a staff person will be unavailable until 3:00 most callers will be satisfied. It is important to be discreet when stating the whereabouts of others in your office. It is helpful to be able to provide an alternate staff person to assist callers when someone is on vacation or out of the office for an extended period of time. If your department operates this way, be sure you know the hierarchy. If your are taking a message, be sure to verify the information given to you. Correct spelling and pronunciation of names is particularly important. When the call is returned and they mispronounce the caller's name the entire conversation is off to a bad start. If need be, ask the caller how to spell their name when you are taking the message--do not guess. Rather than writing down a message, it may be more convenient to leave a voice mail message for the co-worker who is to return the call. This way you can verbally give them the correct pronunciation of the caller's name. Let the caller know your name and the name of the person who will be returning their call. This is more personal than just saying, "Someone will call you back later," and it sounds more believable to the caller if they have a contact person's name. If a caller needs information you do not have or are not sure about do not abruptly tell them you do not know and to call back later. Also, do not try to guess the correct answer-this will usually backfire on you. Offer to have another staff person call them back with the correct information. Again, it helps to provide a name to the caller.

Let others know when you will be away from the office.

It is a very good idea to let others in your department know when you will be away from the office and for how long. It is also helpful to update the personal greeting in your Octel mailbox on a daily basis so that callers know when you will be available. If possible, this greeting should give callers an alternate number in you department to call if they need immediate assistance and you are away from your desk. Be sure that if you answer a main department line that you follow the University's Voice Mail Guidelines. All main department lines need to be answered Monday through Friday, eight to five.

If you take a message, verify all information given to you.

Follow up. Deliver messages in person, confirm that the message was received, and make sure the caller receives a return call.

Make sure to follow-up, deliver messages in person and make sure the call has been returned. This shows that you and your department are striving to provide the best possible service to your customers.

Screen calls tactfully.

It is really best if each person in the department can answer their own phone or forward their phone to voice mail (providing it is not a main department number) rather than asking someone else to answer or screen their calls. If you are required to screen calls for others, remember to always be tactful. Avoid the scenario of saying a staff person is available before you have asked who is calling, in case you have been told to only transfer calls from certain people. The proper way to screen calls is to first ask, "I'll check and see if Ms. Smith is in her office. May I tell her who is calling?" You can then put the call on hold and return to the caller to say, "I'm sorry, but she is not available at the moment. Can I be of assistance with anything or would you like to leave a message?" I often get calls from annoying sales people who will call back over and over. If you supervisor does not want to speak with them you should decide on the correct response with your supervisor. You could say something like, "I'm sorry but we are not currently reviewing that product (or service). If you send us materials we will keep them in our files for future reference (or bid requests).


There may be times when you will have to deal with complaints or unhappy callers and it is wise to remember that what you say and how you say it can either satisfy or alienate a caller.

Approach matters calmly.

If you approach matters calmly you will be much more apt to maintain good relations. It is important that you do not use a rude tone back to the caller. It may seem unfair that they can be rude to you but you cannot be rude back, but a caller usually does not have a personal vendetta against you as an individual. Listen patiently while the caller vents their frustration and keep your tone pleasant, friendly, and interested. If you listen patiently and make sure your tone is pleasant the caller will almost always be appeased.

Be compassionate. Put yourself in the caller's place.

Regardless of what steps you must take, be compassionate. Treat everyone with the same consideration and sensitivity you would want. Keep in mind that sometimes an upset caller just wants the opportunity to voice their complaints to a patient ear.

Do not be drawn into a battle of harsh words with an irate caller.

Unfortunately even when using all these tips, now and then you may run into an irate caller who is difficult to deal with. When this happens, do not allow yourself to be drawn into a battle of harsh words. I believe this is the absolute worst thing you can do. You should always keep your manner pleasant and calm no matter what. Keeping cool often works miracles. Few callers will continue using a loud, angry tone of voice if you remain calm and quiet.

Do not blame the problem on others in your department.

Also, be loyal to your department. It may seem like the easiest and quickest solution to blame the problem on someone else, but this clumsy method of dealing with angry callers can often backfire on you. It is unprofessional to blame the problem on someone else and the angry caller may say, "Fine they messed up-what are you going to do about it?" In addition, callers will realize that you are disloyal and may distrust you.

Be prepared. Know the logistics of your department so that the caller cannot make an error in interpretation.

It is also important to be thoroughly informed on the functions of your department. Angry callers may become even angrier if they feel they are dealing with an incompetent person or if they have to be put on hold for a long time while you search for information. If you must put the caller on hold be sure to use the etiquette tricks for putting callers on hold.

Get as much information as you can from the caller so that no misunderstanding can occur.

Another good tip is to concentrate on getting as much information as possible from the caller since problems are many times caused by misunderstandings. Pencil and paper come in handy here-to jot down all the information you need from the caller to deal with their complaint.

If the caller has a legitimate complaint, express your concern about any inconvenience and let them know action will be taken to solve the problem.

If the caller has a legitimate complaint be sure to express your concern about any inconvenience and ask what you can do to solve the situation. This does not mean you should allow the caller to change your stand. If the caller's complaint is not legitimate, make sure they come away knowing why it is not.

If you promise to make amends be sure to follow through.

If you do promise to make amends be sure to follow through. You may be glad to be finished with the call, but if you do not rectify the situation the caller will probably call you back with an even angrier attitude. So always follow through with your promises.

Make sure all the caller's questions have been answered before ending the conversation.

Be sure to end all conversations so that the caller is left with a good final impression of your department. Thank them for calling and make sure all their questions have been answered. One easy way to do this is to let them hang up first.

Disconnect immediately from obscene calls.

It is important to have a plan in place to deal with angry of callers, because it is often difficult to think of a solution at the time. You may need to discuss a plan of action with your supervisor. When dealing with angry callers make every attempt to work through their complaints. If an unhappy caller begins shouting obscenities at you, calmly say you will not attempt to resolve the situation as long as the obscenities continue. If they do continue, you can either hang up, transfer the call to your supervisor or, in an extreme case, transfer the call to University Police. Again, this is something to talk to your supervisor about in advance. Do not confuse angry callers with obscene or harassing callers. If you receive an obscene call you should immediately disconnect from these calls and refrain from responding to the caller either verbally or by slamming the receiver down. This type of caller is generally seeking a reaction. They want to know you have been annoyed by their call. If the calls continue, notify the Campus Police. If you have a display phone, write down the incoming phone number.

Transfer emergency calls to the Campus Police at 235-1515.

Any calls of an emergency nature should always be immediately transferred to the Campus Police at 1515. This includes all fire, medical, intrusions, threats over the telephone or by visitors in your department. On the Hospital Hill campus dial 1818 for emergency.


Do not respond to a rambling caller. Wait until they stop speaking to ask how you can be of assistance.

We all know how difficult it can be to remain patient with certain callers. For instance, you may have a caller who feels it is necessary to tell you their whole life history before getting to the point of why they are calling. In this situation it is best to remain totally silent. Try to find a small break in their conversation where you can politely ask how you can help them. Avoid the temptation to respond to their conversation because this will encourage them to keep speaking. If there is silence, most callers will stop talking because they are waiting for a response from you.

Do not speak loudly to international callers or ask if they understand you. Try to pick up a few key words they are saying so you can offer suggestions as to how they can be assisted.

If your are dealing with an international caller who's accent may be unfamiliar to you or someone whose speech is difficult to understand, do not speak louder, more slowly, or ask if they understand you. This will only aggravate the caller. It is better to try to pick up a few words they are saying and use that to suggest reasons they may be calling. For instance you could say, "Are you calling to request an application?" You may also ask them to spell the name of the person they need to speak with.

Become familiar with the Relay Missouri Service.

Be familiar with the Message Relay system. This is a service that allows persons with hearing loss or speech difficulties to converse with a hearing person without requiring the hearing person to have a text telephone. There are operators in each state that act as the go-between, speaking messages for the hearing person and typing messages on a text telephone for the person with hearing loss or speech trouble. The Message Relay system is accessed through an 800-number. You may refer to the handout I am giving you, call our campus switchboard for the phone numbers, or refer to the front of the Southwestern Bell White Pages for information.

Secret Number Nine: PLACE YOUR OWN CALLS

Having your assistant place calls makes the party on the receiving end think you do not believe his or her time is as important as your own.

Just as answering calls takes good etiquette so does placing calls. Having an assistant place your calls makes the party on the receiving end feel as if they are not important. To project a positive and concerned image it is always best if you place your own calls.

Before placing a telephone call, write down what you need to say. This will reduce the amount of time you spend on the phone and make you sound more professional.

Before placing a call, write down a summary of what you need to say and have any pertinent paperwork in front of you. This way, when you get the other party on the line, your thoughts will be organized. This has two benefits. First, it will make you sound very professional. Second, it will cut down on the amount of time you have to spend on the phone. This will help to keep long distance costs to a minimum, and will free up more of your time to devote to other responsibilities.

If you are calling long distance you may want to inform the person who answers your call that you are calling long distance. It adds a sense of urgency.

Two more tips for dialing long distance- tell the caller you are dialing long distance, this adds a sense of urgency.

To save money on international calls, try to check the time zone and rates of the place to which you are calling. Remember that work time for you may be sleep time for others.

Also, when dialing internationally be aware of different time zones and rates. You can call 9-00 to find out international rates. Also, be aware that when you are working others may be sleeping. Rates from the campus to the U.S. and Canada are always .35 cents per minute and .30 cents per minute on the intercampus network (Missouri). By the way, studies have shown that the best time to catch someone at their desk is between 9 and 11 in the morning and between 2 and 4 in the afternoon-this may help to save money and time too-you will not have to keep playing phone tag.

When you are transferred to an unknown party be sure to jot down their name and extension in case you have to get in touch with them again.

Finally, be sure to jot down the name and extension if you are transferred to an unknown party. You never know if you will need to get in touch with them again.

Personal calls should be kept to a minimum and made on your own time, if possible.

It is up to your supervisor as to how personal calls are handled, but keep in mind, this is your place of employment. Your telephone line belongs to the university and is there to conduct university business. Of course there are many calls that can only be made during regular business hours. Or how about when the kids call? Try to keep these types of calls to a minimum. If you are in the habit of making personal long distance calls from your campus phone and then reimbursing your department, remember this is in violation of University of Missouri policy. You should place these types of calls using your personal long distance calling card.


Do not panic.

We all know that there are days where the phone just will not stop ringing. To add insult to injury it seems on these extra busy days that no one can be located and your are forced to take and relay, it seems, hundreds of messages. How do you keep your poise? Our first instinct is to move more quickly, speak faster, and keep our conversations to a minimum, but you should never give up courtesy for speed. There are tips you can use that can help get you through these hectic times. First, do not panic. Keep your voice calm and friendly. You may need to pick up your speed a bit, but you can still handle the call in a courteous manner and not let the caller know how swamped you are. Each caller wants to feel that his or her call is just as important as the next. Also, just because you are busy, do not forget to state your departmental greeting and your name.

Do not let a busy phone prevent you from using courtesy. Make sure you always use the department's greeting and state your name.

If a second call comes in, let it ring once or twice while you finish up with the first person. If you must put the caller on hold, wait for a break in the conversation, then politely ask if you may put them on hold.

An important skill to acquire when handling busy phones is how to put callers on hold to answer the other line. If a second call comes in and you know you will finish up with the first caller in moments you should stay on the line and finish the conversation. Most callers would rather hear a few rings (up to six) than be put on hold. If you cannot finish up quickly with your first party, wait for a break in the conversation and politely ask if you may put them on hold. Ask the second caller if they will hold and return to your first call-but try to finish up quickly. The second caller will be happy that you are aware of their call, but let them know that you will be back as soon as you can finish up with the first call.

If you are very busy and a talkative caller is keeping you on the line, gain control of the conversation and guide the call in the right direction.

There are times when you are busy and a particular caller wants to talk and ramble-it seems as if they are telling their entire life story. You must take control of the situation by guiding the caller in the right direction. The way to do this is to give the caller a suggestion based on what you think it is they need. For instance, you might say, "It sounds like you need verification on whether or not your application was received, would you wait one moment while I check that?"

Get all the information you need the first time so that you do not waste precious time calling someone back for further information.

Other good tips to use when handling busy phones are being sure that you get all the information you need from the caller the first time. Be sure to write down the information so you do not forget. It is embarrassing when someone asks you something about the call and you say "I forgot to ask them" or worse yet, " I do not remember". If you have to call the person back for information you should have gotten the first time, you are wasting valuable time and projecting a bad image for your department. One way to be sure that you get all the information that is needed from and for the caller is to be completely knowledgeable about the functions of your department. If you are unsure of something ask your supervisor for more training-do not give out incorrect information to callers.

Be knowledgeable about the function of your department and other offices on campus for quick answers and transferring.

Also, become familiar with the other departments on campus so you can transfer calls properly and the caller is not subjected to being transferred over and over until they reach the correct department.

Be prepared. Have a plan in place to signal a co-worker to help out when phones are busy.

It is always good to be prepared. Make sure you have plenty of coverage for the phones if needed. Have a signal ready (a wave of the hand) to signal a coworkers that you need help with the phones.

(Rollover lines and call forwarding can sometimes help with this-use the features of the phone)

If the phones are so chronically busy that you cannot keep up, let your supervisor know that you need permanent help.

Last, but not least, if the department phones are so chronically busy that you cannot handle them on your own, tell your supervisor. Sometimes one person is not enough and callers are not getting the kind of service they expect and deserve.


We have already addressed some of the problems associated with the different personalities you may encounter over the phone. Callers with aggressive nasty attitudes, people who want to tell their life story and never seem to get off the line. Let's go over the common personalities and how to deal with them.

Aggressors can be rude and challenging. Your tone should be cordial but reserved. Listen patiently, show concern, and take action quickly when dealing with aggressors.

One-Aggressors can be rude and challenging. Keep your cool; do not allow them to draw you into an argument. Be patient and take action quickly. Aggressors will only get more angry if their problems are not dealt with.

Experts act like they know your department better than you do. Deal with the expert personality by being very knowledgeable about your job. Give them options and let them choose and feel in control.

Two-Experts act like they know more about your job than you do. Be sure to be completely knowledgeable about your department so that you can thwart any misinformation the Expert may try to throw your way. It helps sometimes to give them options so that they can feel in control.

Agreeable personalities tend to give phony promises. Only ask one

If you work in billing, you may deal with Agreeables a lot. "Sure, I'll send the check tomorrow." Try not to swamp them with a lot of requests. They may be able to handle one, but if you give them too many they will just agree and then do nothing.

Negative personalities act like victims by complaining that everything always goes wrong. Listen with concern to the negative personality and logically give them the facts.

Four-people with negative attitudes get whiney and complain about everything. Take control by listening with concern, but state the facts-if you have a departmental policy-stick by it. (For instance, having to pay for calls used with stolen auth. codes)

Talkers tend to be overly friendly and can keep you on the phone over trivial matters. Try to stay on a last name basis with these types. Always keep control of the conversation; do not get dragged into personal conversations.

Talkers like to keep you on the phone forever-you have to take control. Guide these callers in the right direction by keeping on a business only level.

Emergency calls should be handled with urgency and speed. Be quick, accurate, and responsive.

Finally, always use urgency and speed when dealing with emergency calls. Transfer any call to the Campus Police. (Be sure that you have an Emergency Sticker on your phone.)


Just as you can be swamped with calls, you may feel swamped with more etiquette information than you can handle. But if you always practice a few basic steps you can't go wrong.

When the phone rings, answer promptly.

One-try to answer the phone as promptly as possible.

Always be friendly and take a genuine interest in the person on the other end of the telephone.

Two-Always be courteous, friendly, and helpful, not matter how the callers act towards you.

Practice effective listening.

Three-Practice effective listening. Listen not only to a caller's words, but also to their tone of voice. Are they angry, discouraged, or confused? Knowing this information can help you to handle their call more efficiently.

Express concern for complaints. Turn an angry caller into a satisfied one.

Four-express concern for a caller's complaints-turn an unpleasant situation around with your courtesy, knowledge, and action.

Keep the telephones covered during lunch and break periods. Be sure to use the Voice Mail Guidelines.

Five-Always have someone there to answer the main department phone during business hours. It makes the entire University look unprofessional when main departments do not answer their phones. If you need to call forward to another person do so. Main departments should never use voice mail to answer their phone.

Be discreet and complimentary about your department.

Six-Be loyal to your department by being discreet. Don't blame a problem on someone else in your department-fix it! The caller will feel better because the situation has been handled in a tactful manner, and you don't have to worry about being the messenger of idle gossip. Always talk about your department in glowing, not glowering tones. In short, be loyal!

Take impeccable messages and always follow up.

Seven-Be sure to take impeccable messages. Get all the information you need the first time. And always be sure to follow through on any requests.

Eight-Take periodic breaks to relieve fatigue.

Finally, answering the phone can be stressful-be sure to take a break by getting up and stretching or walking around the office. You may consider using a headset for ease of answering. I hope everyone has learned something to make the difficult task of answering the phone easier. Just remember, knowing these skills is not enough, you must use them. Unlock the door to telephone etiquette and you will soon be successful at forming new, highly professional telephone habits.