Receptionist Etiquette Tip: Great Answers to Common Questions

Be prepared for these common questions when answering telephones
Photo by SMJJP

We Ruby®s consider answering telephones an art, and our live virtual receptionists are brilliant artists, to say the least. Through our years of answering calls remotely, we’ve learned a lot about which phrases work on the phone and which fall flat.

Here are a few fantastic responses to common caller questions:

Is she in? or Is she available?

Questions like these are usually a caller’s polite way of asking Will she talk to me? Sure, you may know whether someone is in the office, but that doesn’t mean you know whether that person will want to accept a particular call. Rather than answering questions about someone’s availability with a yes or no or I’m not sure, try saying Let me try her line for you. Then, try the requested party’s line. If the person you’re trying to reach is unavailable or declines the call, return to your caller and segue politely into message territory with this Ruby standard: She is away from the phone at the moment, but I would be happy take a message. May I have your telephone number?

When will he be in or When will he return my call?

If you don’t know the answer and your crystal ball is out of commission, this type of question can throw you off your game. Fear not, phone call fielders! We Rubys have found a reply that works in most cases. It goes a little something like this: He keeps his own schedule, but I will be sure to let him know you called. What is the best number for a return call? Make your reply extra helpful by saying I can ask him to return your call at a time that’s convenient for you. When would you prefer a return call? Sure, there’s no way to guarantee that your co-worker will return the call at the specified time, but the extra information will be helpful to your co-worker, and the extra question will show the caller you care.

Anything else? These replies work every time.

Even the best receptionists face questions that they’re unsure how to answer, but that doesn’t preclude you from being helpful and sounding confident. When you’re faced with a confounding question, try one of these rock-solid responses:

Let me find out for you.

I’d be happy to look into that for you.

Great question! Let me put you in touch with the best person to answer it.

Great question! Let me have a member of our team return your call with the answer. May I have your telephone number?

Replies beginning in Let me and I’d be happy to are essential to the Ruby toolbox. Adding a Great question! is another handy trick — we’ve found it’s the perfect way to add some extra friendliness to an already great response.

We hope you find these replies as handy as our offsite receptionists do! Would you like to share your telephone answering tips with us? If so, please leave a comment!

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