There are times when you may need to answer the phone professionally on behalf of your boss. You may do this on a full-time basis as their administrative assistant or in some other capacity.
You might also be required to answer the phone on occasion. For example, they may be occupied and then ask you to answer, even though you don’t usually do so. Either way, you’ll need to do it well because you’re interfacing with clients.
When answering a call on behalf of your boss, you must state your name, the department, and the reason for the substitution. Then ask how you can help the caller and listen to their concerns calmly.
Answer Within A Reasonable Time
If you’re answering phone calls on behalf of your boss, you’re likely to have several other responsibilities to manage. However, the phone should not be considered a distraction.
Don’t leave it to ring too many times before you answer it. Ideally, you should answer by the third ring.
Any longer than that and the other individual is likely to start feeling frustrated or have a negative impression of the company.
Answering the phone promptly portrays your boss in a positive light. They would also respond as quickly as possible to customers. If you’re answering on their behalf, your behavior should mirror theirs.
Always make sure you know as much as possible about how your boss helps the business. This helps you to answer incoming calls in an informed and professional manner. You should know which services they’re responsible for providing to clients.
The person on the phone is someone who requires help. They’re calling your organization because they think that you can provide the kind of assistance that they need.
When you have information at your fingertips, you can give them accurate answers quickly. However, when you’re not even sure whether your boss can meet their needs, you’re likely to leave them feeling confused.
If your boss habitually asks you to answer the phone on their behalf, you need to sit down with them and ask them a few questions about their job. Learn what customers generally call about.
Write down the answers to the common questions that they ask and learn how to respond in different situations.
Stick to Your Company’s Guidelines
Most companies have guidelines that state exactly how the phone should be answered. It’s important to follow these as closely as possible.
The exact wording may vary from one company to the other. However, most require you to:
- Identify the company by the name
- State your own name
- Ask how you can help the caller
For example, you could say:
“Hello. You’ve reached the Bamboo Jewelry Depot. This is Nigel speaking. How may I help?”
“Good morning. This is the Ramen Warehouse. You’re speaking to Karen. How may I assist?”
“Thank you for calling Adrian’s Auto. I’m Lionel. How can I help you today?”
These guidelines provide the caller with the necessary information. Remember that while you know that they’ve reached the right place, they might not be sure that they’ve dialed the correct number. Stating the company’s name affirms that they’ve contacted the correct organization.
If there are several departments in your company or several managers, you may also need to identify which department the manager works for. This also lets them know they’re in the right section of the company and are directing their questions to someone who has specific knowledge and technical expertise.
You could provide information on your boss or department by saying:
“Good morning, this is the Sales Department. How may I assist?”
“Good Afternoon. You’ve reached Miss Callum’s office. How can I help you today?”
“This is the Home Goods Department, Mr Green’s office. How may I assist you?”
Many people like to have a name to refer to during a conversation. Providing them with your name can help to put them at ease. This is especially true if they’re nervous about making the call for any reason.
Telling them your name also provides them with a reference for future calls. They may need to follow up with you and it’s easier to do so if they know your name. Provide your name so that they’re not put in the position where they have to ask for it.
Avoid Background Noise
Surrounding sounds can distract your caller. It can also give a bad impression of your company. For example, if you work in an area where there’s heavy machinery, it can be difficult for the caller to hear what you’re saying.
You should start moving away from a source of background noise the minute that the phone in your hand starts ringing.
Answering with noise in the background means that you’re answering in a confusing setting and it sets the wrong tone for the discussion.
Always try to create a peaceful environment on your end of the call. If you’re at a busy expo or in a meeting, step away from the conversations that are going on around you. If you’re doing business, never chew gum or food while you’re speaking on the phone because the other person can hear you.
It’s important to listen carefully to what the client is saying. Don’t assume that you know why they’re calling. Make sure you get as much information as possible and ask them questions if you’re not certain about what they’re saying. Nothing is wrong with seeking clarification to be able to effectively help your customer.
Don’t rush them. Give them a chance to express their needs. Sometimes clients may have more than one goal in mind.
By listening carefully to them you’re less likely to miss those that they don’t immediately express.
Remember, when you represent your boss, you’re representing the entire company. The interaction that a client has with you, should leave them feeling satisfied with the level of service that’s offered by your organization.
Smile While You’re Answering the Phone
Listeners can often tell whether you’re smiling or not. The warmth of your smile affects your voice. This in turn, positively influences your interaction with the caller.
If you regularly answer the phone for your boss, you might need to keep something near your desk that makes you smile. For example, this could be a cheerful picture or a small landscape painting.
However, do your best to avoid answering the phone in a tone that’s gruff, harsh, or belligerent. Instead, use proper professional phone etiquette with a positive attitude, and friendly tone.
Use Good Diction
Make an extra effort to use good diction when you’re speaking on behalf of your boss. Remember, the person who is listening to you can’t read your lips or your facial expression. They’re relying a lot on what they hear.
Many phone networks sometimes have problems with transmission. This may make your words a little harder to hear. Make an extra effort to speak clearly on the phone because some callers might feel uncomfortable about asking you to repeat what you said.
Mirror Your Boss’ Positive Style
Your boss may have habits related to phone calls that you can emulate. For example, they may be known for taking notes during phone calls. These notes may help them to remember each caller.
Copy the things that they would normally do, so that they feel you answered the call in the same way that they would.
Use Equipment Correctly
Your organization may have special equipment that you use for answering calls. Ensure that you know how to use this correctly so that the caller can hear what you’re saying.
Similarly, if you’re using a cellular phone to answer calls become familiar with the device that you’re using. You never want to cut off a caller by accident.
Engage other Parties when Necessary
Sometimes it’s important to have help with the issue that the client has contacted you about. You should first ask them to allow you to connect with a third party.
Don’t bring someone else in on the conversation without getting permission.
Learn how to assess each individual’s needs well, so that you can get extra information when necessary.
To do this, you’ll need to have an idea of what resources each person in your company has at their fingertips. You never want to direct a call to the wrong person. You need to send them to a team member who can provide the right type of assistance.
If a caller keeps going around in circles they’ll get a bad impression of your boss. If they’re calling for the first time, they may even go elsewhere to do business. Even customers who have purchased products from you in the past will get frustrated if they’re caught in a loop and cannot get a solution to their problems.
Provide Necessary Information To Team Members
Sometimes it’s important to transfer a call to someone who can stand in for your boss because of the information that they have available. In this case, you should explain the caller’s needs to them before transferring the call.
Don’t transfer the call and leave it up to the caller to explain what they need again. This can be frustrating for the customer.
Also, ensure that you tell the customer to who you’re transferring them and what they can expect. Don’t just transfer them without warning.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.