Customer Service is at the heart of good business practices. Without it, you won’t go very far in getting new clients, and you’ll probably quickly lose the ones you have. One important aspect of good customer service is having proper phone etiquette. If English is not your first language, speaking with customers and clients can be a difficult experience.
Our guide is designed to assist in building up your formal phone conversation skills. We’re going to divide our guide up into sections. First, we’re going to suggest ways for you to handle the call. Next, we’re going to give you a list of key phrases and vocabulary, common to these types of calls.
Basic Business Phone Call Procedure
The following is the basic procedure for taking a call in the business environment. This is simply a guide. Check the handbook at your place of business to check if they have a particular script to follow. If they do, that script takes precedence.
- Individual calls the business requesting information
- Incoming call is received. The caller is greeted, and asked what they require.
- The answer depends on the situation:
- If the individual is not available, ask to take a message.
- If the individual is temporarily unavailable, ask the caller to hold.
- If the individual is available, tell them you will now transfer the call.
- The caller may be simple asking a question. Answer the question if you can.
- Close the call with the proper phone etiquette established by your company. Always remember that the caller should hang up first.
Formal Phone Conversation 1
Pamela: “Hello? This is Pamela, how may I help you?”
Gary: “Hi Pamela, this is Gary Sanderson of ACME Graphic Design Studio. I’m returning your call.”
Pamela: “Hi Gary, I hope you are doing well. Thank you for returning my call.”
Gary: “I’m doing very well, thank you.”
Pamela: “I called in reference to the status of your current project. I noticed you had turned in all of your data, and I wanted to call and congratulate you on your persistance in completing the project on time.”
Gary: “Thank you, Pamela. I actually was not expecting a call like this. I’m quite grateful that you took the time to appreciate the work myself and my team did.”
Pamela: “That we did, Gary. Both myself and Mr. Brock are happy with your progress so far, and hope to give you more work in the future.”
Gary: “Thank you so much, Pamela. Please extend my gratitude to Mr. Brock.”
Pamela: “Will do, Gary. Keep up the good work, and we’ll be looking forward to your next installment.”
Formal Phone Conversation 2
Mike: “Hello, This is ACME Corporation. How may I help you today?”
Phil: “Hi, this is Phil from accounting. May I please speak with Mr. Sanderson?”
Mike: “I’m sorry, Mr. Sanderson is currently unavailable. He is in a meeting and will not be taking any calls today.”
Phil: “This is in regards to the ACME Corporation merger occurring on the 18th of October. The matter is rather urgent. Please forward this message and have him contact me at 555-555-5555.”
Mike: “I understand. I’ll notify Mr. Brock as soon as he emerges from the meeting.”
Phil: “Thank you, Mike.”
Mike: “You are welcome.”
Formal Phone Conversation 3
Stan: “ACME Corporation? This is Stan Cummings from the Cleveland Branch.”
Marge: “Hello Stan. What can I assist you with today?”
Stan: “We are currently handling the Stevens account. Their lawyer is requiring verification regarding certain forms.”
Marge: “I understand. Did their lawyer give you an idea what type of documents he’ll need, and the time frame for retrieval?”
Stan: “Yes he did. I’m calling to notify you that I’ll be sending the titles of the required documents in an email by tomorrow evening.”
Marge: “I see. I’ll tell Mr. Sanderson’s personal assistant to keep an eye out for them, and to notify you when she receives them.”
Stan: “Thank you so much. I appreciate your consideration and quick response regarding this matter.”
Marge: “Have a pleasant day. Good bye.”
Stan: “Thank you. You too.”
Key Phrases and Vocabulary Words
Answering the Phone
- Hello, you’ve reached the ACME Graphics Design Company. How may I assist you?
- This is Accounting. How may I help you?
- May I speak with Mr. Sanderson, Please?
- Where are you calling from?
- This is Mary. Who’s calling please?
- There is no one here by that name. Are you certain you have the correct number?
Returning a Call
- Hello. This is Franklin from legal services. I’m returning your call regarding the Sanderson account.
- I’m calling in response to the update on the meeting.
Taking a Message
- Mr. Commons is currently in a conference call. May I take a message?
- I currently do not have access to that information. May I call you back?
Placing a Caller on Hold
- I’ll have to check with accounting. Can I place you on hold?
- Thank you for holding. Accounting will email you the document.
- Thank you for holding. I’m afraid that Mr. Sanderson is out of town for the weekend. May I take a message?
Thank You for Your Business
- Thank you for your order. The order number is 4444, and should arrive by Thursday.
- We appreciate your patronage. We’ll keep you updated on any further advances with the project.
Please Repeat Your Message
- I’m sorry, I could not quite understand that last sentence. Could you please repeat the statement?
- I’m so sorry. It appears that our line is having difficulty connecting. Could you repeat that last message please?
Thank You for Calling
- Thank you for calling. I’ve checked our data logs, and I have no documentation regarding that order.
- Thank you for your interest in ACME Corporation. We’ll contact you if we obtain any further news. Have a good day.
Call – Contacting someone by telephone
Caller – The individual who made the call
Busy – The phone is in use
Answer – Take the call
Documentation – Important forms
Oh hold – Having the caller wait
Order – Merchandise purchased and being delivered
Patronage – Returning loyal customers
Conference call – Staff meeting via phone
Transfer – Connect your call to the proper person
Additional Tips and Tricks
Take Time to Relax:
Before you make that call, you might feel yourself getting slighting nervous. Take a step back, relax and take in a deep breath. It’s perfectly alright to pace yourself, and go slowly. Once you feel at ease, begin your call.
Learn New Phrases Regularly:
As a good rule of thumb, plan on learning 1 to 3 new formal phone conversations per day. Practice these at home, making ‘pretend’ calls and repeating these phrases out loud. When you do this, try to practice proper pronunciation as well. This is not easy, but we promise this practice will pay off in the long run.
Practice with a Friend or Family Member:
While practicing on your own is convenient, and something you can do at any time, it’s much better to be able to practice these conversations and phrases when working with other people. So get some friends together, and role play so you can all learn new phrases together. Also, remember to practice handling several phone calls at the same time.
It’s only natural that you may not comprehend certain English phrases that the caller may use. If this happens, feel free to ask them to either repeat the phrase, speak it more slowly, or even ask what it means.
As previously stated, it’s perfectly permissible to ask the other person to slow down their speech if it is too fast to comprehend. In fact, to ensure you’re understood, make certain you are speaking slowly as well.
Mind Your Manners:
Phone etiquette is actually a thing. In the States, young children are often taught in class how to formally answer a phone, and hold a conversation. So, you’ll actually earn points with your English speaking caller if you are considerate and use formal phrases.
When it comes to learning how to handle business calls, you can see that it may take some practice. It may also help if you do some research regarding business telephone etiquette, especially when you role play. Expect that you’ll be nervous, and that it’s okay. Expect that this will take some time, and that not every situation will be easy. Indeed, angry customers can fluster you, but if you simply allow them to talk without interruption, jotting down notes as you go, it should make the call easier on you. Speak slowly, be well-mannered, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’ve enjoyed composing this small guide concerning the proper way to answer, handle and close a call, and hope it’s helped answer any questions you may have.