Receptionist Etiquette Tip: 3 Tips for Verifying Names Politely

Photo by Rick Prelinger

Verifying the spelling of a caller’s name can be a tricky, especially if callers expect you to be familiar with them. The talented virtual receptionist team at Ruby® suggests leaving out verification when possible, but there are some instances where correct spelling is a valuable boon. Say, you’re sending an email to follow up with a potential client after a call; addressing Cathy as Kathy just won’t do. Our remote receptionists are adept at gathering information gracefully in any situation. If verifying callers’ names is part of your job, check out these three tricks of the telephone answering trade:

Take a guess. Are you familiar with the caller’s name? Take a crack at spelling it.

“Smith, that’s S-M-I-T-H, correct?”

If you’re right, you’ve saved the caller a bit of trouble. And even if you’re off by a few letters, you offer a jumping-off point.

“Actually, it’s S-M-Y-T-H.”

“Great! Thank you.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the caller’s name and not comfortable taking a guess, start with a polite question like “Would you mind spelling that for me?” Then, spell the name back to the caller for confirmation. Lots of letters sound alike, so when confirming spelling, use words to clarify letters (“Is that T as in Terrific?”). Our phone answering pros keep a spelling alphabet handy for just this reason.

Use Caller ID. Caller ID may be helpful when verifying a name. If the caller’s name matches the name shown on caller ID, try prompting the caller with the name spelling shown there. Caller ID isn’t always correct — don’t use it as a replacement for verification — but it can be a great tool for verifying spelling.

Handling hesitation. When a caller hesitates to verify information, try politely explaining that you’ve been asked to verify the information you collect and that you’d hate to pass along incorrect or incomplete information. Then, ask for the information again.

“I’ve been asked to verify spelling before transferring calls, and I’d hate to pass along your information incorrectly. Would you mind spelling your last name for me?”

Sounds pretty sweet, right? A little politeness goes a long way over the telephone.

What are your info-collecting tips? Share your knowledge with our virtual receptionist crew by leaving a comment below!

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