How to Answer a Business Call Professionally

One of the many common questions that small businesses have is “how do I answer a business call professionally?”. Telephone etiquette is, more often than not, common sense, but it is also often misunderstood, and its importance is overlooked! These are our tips on how to answer phone calls professionally and to ensure that your telephone etiquette is top-notch, just like the team of virtual receptionists here at alldayPA!

Making a good first impression on the phone is vitally important as a small business, as studies have found that almost three-quarters of people would choose another business for their product or service if they had a poor experience on the phone with an organisation. More than two-thirds of people would also complain to friends and family about that company, a quarter would complain to their social media network and up to a third would leave a bad review publicly online, so getting those first impressions right every time couldn’t be more important!

Prompt responses, a good telephone manner, being friendly and personable on the phone and solving customer issues quickly and efficiently are all things that go into answering a business call professionally, but there’s much more to it as well! Keep reading to get our virtual receptionist’s advice on how to answer your business calls professionally and create the best possible first impression for your company.

How to answer a business phone call

There are lots of different factors that go into making the best impression on the telephone, but there are a few key things to keep in mind:

Promptness when answering the phone

Don’t let the phone ring more than two or three times before picking it up if at all possible. Stop whatever else you’re doing to take the inbound call. It’s best to never allow your calls to get to a voicemail system, as this can frustrate your customers – if you’re having trouble answering all your calls as they come in, contact alldayPA and see how we can help!

Think about your telephone greeting

During a call, it is important to pay attention to your voice speed, pitch, and tone, and to be friendly and respectful when answering the phone. Brief, descriptive, and informative greetings that let the caller know they’re in the right place for their enquiry are best. In business settings, it is more professional to begin with a greeting such as “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.”, rather than just “Hello”. State your name followed by the department you work in or your company’s name, then ask, “How can I help you?”. Structuring your phone answer like this is a great way of presenting yourself and the company in a professional and helpful manner, and also helps you to quickly and easily assess the customer’s needs, which will result in a more productive phone call for both parties!

Acknowledge your caller’s reason for contacting you

Once you’ve greeted your caller, stop and listen to them while they tell you why they’re calling, making sure they have your full attention, and let them finish speaking completely before responding. Take notes as well, as this can be really helpful when it comes to solving customer issues. Recognize that you understand the issue at hand, and if necessary repeat the main points back to the caller. Your response should address the caller’s issue or concern, direct the call to the appropriate department or inform them about the next steps from their enquiry.

Keep things concise where you can

During conversations, avoid exchanging pleasantries for extended periods of time. While small talk is usually appropriate and can make your customers feel more at ease, make sure you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, including your own! Of course, if you are on a call with someone you already know and have a strong professional relationship with, there is a bit more leeway here, and many clients or customers may appreciate you taking the time to have a friendly conversation not directly related to your business, but this is something you should only do if you really do know the person calling!

answering a phone call professionally

Don’t assume your customer understands industry-specific language

One way to make a call feel uncomfortable and very difficult for your callers is to bombard them with jargon, acronyms and other industry-specific terms or phrases they don’t fully understand. Not only will this put your caller on the back foot, but it can also make misunderstandings more likely, so you should never assume someone knows your industry as well as you do. Instead, always go for clear, simple, and easy to understand language, and make sure you offer callers time and space to ask any questions they may have – it will present you as friendly and co-operative in addition to making sure mistakes don’t happen!

Use the right pace and tone

It might seem simple, but maintaining the right tone and pace is important when providing customer service. Having an empathetic, approachable and friendly tone puts your caller at ease instantly, making it more likely that you’ll end the call with a positive statement and successful resolution, compared to if you were to start the call sounding rushed, disinterested or short with a caller. When you use the wrong tone of voice, you are likely to sound distracted or rushed, and you run the risk of sounding unprofessional.

One thing that is very easy to do (particularly if you’re nervous, not confident or doing something you’re not used to), is to talk far too quickly. Try to rein this in if you can, so slow yourself down if you’re feeling unsure or passing on lots of information to somebody else.

You should also make sure that you’re in a quiet area without distractions when you take a business call, as this will help to ensure you can give your caller your complete attention and focus on the matter at hand. If you’re distracted, it’s easy to miss important information or get confused, and your customer will be able to tell if you are distracted too, even if they can’t see your body language.

Answering a known caller vs. answering an unknown call professionally

If you know who is calling you – whether it’s a supplier, business partner, employee, long standing customer or industry associate – there’s a chance you can be a little less formal, depending on the industry you’re in. As your business grows and develops, you’ll create many different connections on the way, and nurturing those connections with friendly conversation is a great way to stay in touch and expand the reach of your business! Chances are, if people talk highly of you in professional circles, you’ll grow a reputation as a quality business with good people, so if you know who’s calling, take the time to have a conversation and learn more about the people that your business works with!

What is a professional voicemail greeting?

While ideally you or a member of your team will be able to pick up every call that comes in, in a busy company, this isn’t always the case! Having a professional voicemail greeting is a good final defence against losing a customer completely if you’re unable to reach the phone. The best greeting is to the point, friendly and informative, and you should invite callers to leave their name, contact details and a little detail about their enquiry, so you’re able to call them back with all the information you need as soon as possible. When recording a voicemail greeting, it’s very easy to talk too quickly or not as clearly as you should, so consider writing down what you want to say before recording it, then you don’t have to rush through before you forget your script! When writing out your message, try using these points as a guide:

  1. A great professional voicemail greeting should start with your name and the name of your company, before thanking the caller for their call and apologising for missing it. 
  2. Then you should include relevant information to your callers. This may include your office hours and the best way to reach you – such as an email or secondary number, or asking the caller to leave a message and promising they will receive a callback in a timely manner.
  3. Like all telephone conversations, keep a positive, polite and professional tone in your voicemail message.
  4. Your voicemail greetings should be between 10 and 30 seconds long. Short, concise messages will be well received by your callers, who will be able to get all the information they need instantly.

Of course, the best voicemail greeting is no voicemail greeting, and instead a friendly person on the other end of the line! This is when call answering services, virtual receptionists or outsourced call centre services are a brilliant way to sidestep the issue of setting up a professional voicemail completely. Whether you receive one or two calls a week, or your team are consistently on the phone, we offer tailored, scaleable call answering packages and phone answering services that make sense for your business, meaning you’ll never miss a call again.

professional voicemail greeting

How do you end a phone call professionally?

While first impressions are incredibly important, lasting impressions make a big difference too! We’ve looked at how to answer a business call professionally, but how do you end a phone call professionally? 

Summarise the details of the call

As the reason your customer has called is addressed, you should acknowledge this and start to summarise the details of the call. This helps to focus the conversation to prevent you from getting off track and wasting time, gives you and your caller clarity on the situation as it stands now and presents any next steps required. It also reiterates to the caller any steps that you have taken to resolve their issue, leaving them with the feeling that the call has been a productive one.

Address any outstanding issues

Ask your caller if there is anything else that you can help them with. This gives them the opportunity to air any other issues they may have, ask any additional questions and presents you as friendly, knowledgeable and happy to help.

Thank the caller for their time

Finish the call by thanking your caller for their time and wishing them a pleasant day! By remaining polite, helpful and friendly throughout business calls you’ll be able to give customers the best possible impression of your organisation, and will help them to feel positive about your business when they hang up!

Answering business phone calls professionally is something that we have a lot of experience with at alldayPA, with our friendly, professional PAs answering thousands of calls on behalf of small business owners every business day. We offer a range of different services including:

All of our services also offer 24/7, 365 cover for our customers as standard, and all of our call centres are based right here in the UK, so you can feel confident leaving your business call answering in our hands. To find out more please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team on 0345 056 8888 – we’ll be happy to help you!