Every receptionist dreads a telephone answering encounter like this:

May I ask who is calling?
This is Terry Smith.
Thank you, Mr. Smith!  One moment, please.
Um…that’s Ms. Smith.  I’m a woman.

Ouch!  Guessing a caller’s gender by their tone of voice can be dangerous, but it’s a habit that takes a conscious effort to break.  A good receptionist aims to be professional and respectful in all situations, and addressing callers formally is a great way to do that, if you know how they prefer to be addressed.  When a caller introduces herself as Mrs. Reynolds or Dr. Wilson or Professor Jones, address the caller as such.  But when speaking with Pat Olson, well…it’s best not to guess.

At Ruby Receptionists, our virtual receptionists stick to the default of addressing callers by first name.  We skip Mr., Mrs., and Ms. unless callers introduce themselves accordingly, or unless our clients prefer that we address their callers formally.  This helps eliminate awkward exchanges like the one described above.  Repeating a caller’s name with a simple “Thank you, Terry!” or “Have a  great day, Pat!”  is also a great way to show you’re really listening.  And hey, who doesn’t like hearing their name?   Using a caller’s first name creates a friendly connection, and we get as big a kick out of that as our callers do! 

This little habit packs a big punch, and might just save you from an embarrassing slip-up.  Try it the next time your telephone rings–we think you’ll love the results!