Telephone Manners -Martha’s Mini Book

The way a telephone is answered is for many customers/clients the first introduction he/she has to your business. I have done a little research for you with some of what I believe to be the best companies in the country.  I made a lot of phone calls during “non-office” hours.  All  of my calls were answered automatically but I still felt very welcome to the company.  Hobby Lobby,  American Girl,  Nordstrom, Lifeway,  and Hoffman Media all had a very pleasant woman saying “Thank you for calling __________.”  Land’s End said “Welcome to Land’s End.”  I called three local law firms and their message was “Thank you for calling _______________.” I called one dentist in Florida whose message was “Thank you for calling Dr._______ office.”  I called a dentist’s office in San Francisco which said, “You have reached the offices of __________. Thank you for calling.” I was happy to hear the “Thank you for calling” at the end because the “You have reached the offices of ___” leaves me cold when used alone. I think it is almost rude.

Answering with “The Bike Shop” or “Dr. Smith’s Office” is even worse. I believe the caller deserves a “Thank you for calling.” These kinds of greetings leave me knowing one thing–I have looked up the number and dialed it correctly. It does not let me know they are looking forward to serving me or that they appreciate in any way my choosing their number or their business over others.

Please, always, always answer the phone by thanking the caller for calling your business!! My answering machine for Martha Pullen Company said, “Hello. This is Martha Pullen and I want to personally thank you for calling MPC and SB magazine.” Then I listed the departments, etc. etc.  I had one sweet friend who was a nurse who told me “Martha when I am really needing a pick up over the week-end at the hospital I just pick up the phone and dial your number to hear your sweet voice talking to me.”

  1. Please say “Thank you for calling (name of business).  This is Mary. ” when the phone is a “live answer.”  Always give a name. It is awkward to just hear. “Thank you for calling the office of Dr. Byrd.”  It is so much better to say “This is (Susan) so the caller will have a name to respond to with the reason for calling.  If the “answering person” does not give me a name I always want to ask “To whom am I speaking?” Rather than just “Hey you, I need to make an appointment please.”Please train everyone who will answer your phone how to answer the phone! This is very important.
  2. Please ask everyone to smile before answering the phone. Those smiles go right through the telephone lines.
  3. Please ask everyone to speak in a cheerful manner as if she/he is soooo happy to hear that caller.  Remind everyone that those “callers” pay their salaries!
  4. Do not ever answer a department call by saying, “Retail.”  or  “Billing.” or “Shipping.”  Answer department calls by saying, “Good morning (or afternoon) this is Angela in Retail. How might I help you today?”
  5. When someone asks me “How are you today?” my answer is always “Wonderful.”
  6. Speak clearly and slowly when answering the phone. Remember to use your most cheerful voice. Speak loudly enough so you can be heard.  There is a television ad for a church in our area which runs cheerful ads inviting people coming to their church. The pastor is speaking. He says “I’m ______________ and I want to invite you to such and such church. “ He slurs his name so badly that I have never understood his name nor understood the name of his church that he is paying a lot of TV advertising money to invite people to visit. I think maybe at the end the name of the church appears in writing but I would never visit there knowing full well that he speaks so fast and slurs his words so badly I could never understand his sermons anyway.
  7. If you need to place the person on hold please say “Mr. or Mrs. ____may I place you on hold?”
  8. If you must leave a message and a telephone number ALWAYS, ALWAYS SAY YOUR NUMBER SLOWLY AND THEN REPEAT IT. ALWAYS REPEAT THE NUMBER. I have received so many messages with a  number to return the call which was so fast I could never write it down and it was only given once. SPEAK SLOWLY WHEN LEAVING A NUMBER. WAIT A COUPLE OF SECONDS. SAY THE WORD “REPEATING” AND GIVE THE NUMBER AGAIN.
  9. When calling to ask for someone I think it is polite to say “Hello. This is Peggy Smith from The _____Company. Is Mrs. Jones available?” Rather than “Is Mrs. Jones there?”
  10. In Europe there is a custom of never calling an adult by her or his first name until the “name is given.” I think calling an adult Mr. ___ or Mrs. __ or Ms.___ or Dr. ______is always appropriate.  If that person asks you specifically to call him/her by the first name then by all means do. When the children came to our sewing schools their parents most times introduced me to them as Mrs. Pullen. My answer always was that most of my kids call me “Miss Martha” and that would be great if they would like to call me that. Actually that has been a name of mine since I was 14 years old and started teaching dancing. Nearly all of my dancing pupils called me “Miss Martha.”  I would just encourage all of us to use a proper name of Mr. or Mrs. when first getting to know anyone until being asked to call them something else. It is always appropriate.

Telephone manners are much too important not to have everyone on your team trained to answer appropriately. In my book, G.R.A.C.E. Keys to Entrepreneurship I give many facilitative responding techniques to be used in many different situations including negative ones which inevitably you will have with your customers on occasion. There are so many ways to turn negative situations into positive ones. Using the right words is always necessary to turn a negative into a positive.

The purpose of this mini-book was to share with you the importance of a telephone greeting in any business. Please consider the initial greeting on a phone call as a very important sales tool–because it is. Please check your own phone greetings in our your company and have a short session to discuss with your employees. They might have some more great ideas about the phone greeting. I have even heard “It’s a great day at ________. Thank you for calling. This is Sam.”

In closing I  pray for our men and women serving in harm’s way and for their families. I pray for our president and our leadership in Washington that they would turn to God for their answers concerning serious issues facing our country and the world. I pray for Israel always! I pray all the time for you my friends, family and beloved sewing family.

I know many of you are facing very difficult situations now. Please remember that God loves you so much and that He is in charge of every situation. Lean on Him and Him alone. One of my all time most “hung onto” verses of scripture is Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  God will carry your burdens with you and we cannot “fix” everything. What we can do is hang on to God and go through the valleys with Him in control.  With HIM in control we can do it. Whatever IT is.

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