Receptionist Etiquette Tip: 3 Steps to Turn a Tough Call Around

Turn lemons into lemonade
Photo by Rachel Titiriga

If telephone answering is part of your job, odds are you’ll cross paths with a frustrated caller at least once. Although tough phone calls are certainly not the norm at Ruby® (who can resist a cheerful voice?), our virtual receptionist team is skilled at turning them around. We feel a frustrated caller is just a happy caller in disguise! Here are three mood-improving steps that work wonders on even the grumpiest of callers:

  • Step 1: Acknowledge your caller’s frustration. A few supportive words like I can see where you’re coming from or That sounds frustrating can go a long way. But don’t fake it — frustrated callers are great at sniffing out insincerity. If you don’t feel it, leave acknowledgment out.
  • Step 2: Offer Assistance. Your caller is probably frustrated because you can’t provide what they’re seeking. But there is always something you can provide, right? Offer it! Use helpful phrases beginning in Let me and I’d be happy to. While you’re at it, try framing your role: As the receptionist, I’d be happy to take a detailed message and read it back to you. I’ll be sure everyone on our tech support staff receives it.”
  • Step 3: Guide your caller. Here’s the clincher: always end with a question. Guiding a caller with questions keeps you in control of the call, and helps you gather any necessary information. Any polite question will do — just ask for whatever you need!

Let’s check out these three steps in action:

“That certainly sounds frustrating! Let me do what I can to help. As the receptionist, I’d be happy to take a detailed message and read it back to you, so we’re sure it’s conveyed as you’d like it to be. I’ll make sure everyone on our tech support staff knows you need assistance as soon as possible. What is the best telephone number for a return call?”

We just made the simple act of taking a message seem pretty impressive! Pair this routine with a pleasant tone of voice and a positive attitude, and you’re sure to make a good impression. When a frustrated caller crosses your path, remember this mantra from our live virtual receptionist crew: Acknowledge, assist, guide, repeat!

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