Don’t say what. Your tone is just as important as your content during a telephone conversation, if not more so. A short question like “What?” can sound brusque to a caller, even when delivered delicately. If you need to clarify what your caller said, add some padding to your query. Try “Would you mind repeating that?” instead of a simple “What?”
Put some may in your day. Again, padding a question can help it feel friendlier. Rather than asking “What is your name?” or “Who is this?” opt for this standby: “May I ask who is calling?” In fact, beginning with “May I” is a surefire way to soften just about any question well. Try these on for size:
“May I have your telephone number?”
“May I ask what company you’re with?”
“May I offer you his voicemail?”
“May I take a message?”
Pretty classy, right?
Preface your pause politely. When you need a short conversational break to research a caller’s question, it’s best to introduce the upcoming pause. Skip “Just a second” and “Just a sec,” even if a few seconds of silence is all you need. Instead, keep it professional and polite with a phrase like “One moment, please.” If you need more than a few seconds, though, always be sure to follow the next guideline…
Ask before pressing the Hold key. Even the magic word can’t make a statement like “Hold, please” sound warm. Before treating your caller to a bit of hold music, ask permission. “May I place you on hold for a moment?” is the Ruby standard. Another tip from our live virtual receptionist crew is to thank the caller when resuming your conversation. “Thank you so much for your patience” is a great way to get back into the flow of a call. A final Ruby must: If your caller declines to be placed on hold, don’t place the call on hold. Instead, stay on the line as you do what you need to do.
What are your favorite go-to phrases to for phone answering? Please leave a comment and share them!