There are protocols and common phrases which are frequently used in several areas of society for missed phone calls. These phrases help to ease any worry that a person may be feeling after they were unable to contact you.
If you missed a call, make sure to respond promptly with a brief explanation of why you couldn’t answer the phone and that you are sorry. After that, focus on the present and the initial reason for the call.
Soothe Hurt Feelings
When someone calls us, it’s usually because they have been thinking of us. This is true in both personal and business relationships. If someone wants to purchase a new table and calls your furniture store, they’ve chosen you and expect that you will respond. Calling them back lets them know that you are interested in their business.
When you miss a call, it is important to let them know that you value them. This is usually done by ensuring the other party that you regret missing the call, in whatever you choose to say. An apology acknowledges the delays that resulted from not being able to take their call immediately. It helps to soothe their feelings.
In 2016, an article called An Exploration of the Structure of Effective Apologies identified an expression of regret as an important part of a successful apology. This is essential in a business relationship and that’s why most business people beg pardon after they miss someone’s call. However, this is also important in your personal life.
Research done by Kinga Kaleta et al showed that a foremost apology affects emotional and decisional forgiveness. If someone’s feelings were hurt because you weren’t there to talk to them when they needed a listening ear or they had an emergency and you weren’t available to help them, simply saying I am sorry, can help to address their hurt.
Apologizing when you miss a call gives them a reason to forgive. The following are examples of things that you can say after missed calls:
“I’m sorry that I missed your call.”
“Sorry that I wasn’t available at that time.”
“Sorry that I didn’t hear the phone.”
“I’m sorry that I couldn’t talk then.”
“We’re sorry that we were unable to take your call.”
“We’re sorry that our customer service personnel were all occupied at that time.”
Respond in A Timely Manner
In both business and personal situations, it’s important to respond promptly after missed calls. If your inability to respond quickly to a call caused harm, it’s better to express regret as soon as possible, instead of waiting unnecessarily. However, even an apology that is given long after is better than none.
If someone is hurt, they can carry that burden for years. Sometimes, not answering someone’s call can be seen as giving their call less priority than something else in your life.
While you may genuinely have something to do that is more urgent than taking a call, it can make a customer feel like they’re not important, if you’re busy wiping a counter instead of giving them information on a product that they need.
Similarly, if a friend calls and you ignored their call because of something frivolous, they may feel hurt. If you do it all the time, they will question the value of the friendship to you. If you genuinely feel sorry about missed calls, give them a prompt response and a proper apology.
Give A Reason
You don’t always have to give a proper reason why you missed their call. The most important thing is to call them back and everything else simply enhances the interaction. However, there are times when it is beneficial for both you and them to share why you were unable to take their call.
Giving a reason reminds them that they are important to you and that you weren’t just ignoring them, at a time when they thought well enough of you to call.
Research done by Yubao Cui et al showed that apologies following competence-based trust violations were more effective than those following integrity-based violations. Everyone has been in a situation where they were doing something that couldn’t be interrupted and just couldn’t answer a call.
Most people can understand when an otherwise competent person, is unable to manage in a given situation and must miss a call. When you miss a call and can give a reason that helps them to empathize with your personal circumstances, they will readily forgive.
You can say:
“I was driving when you called.”
“I was in a meeting when you called.”
“I was bathing the baby when you called.”
“We had multiple calls in the queue and couldn’t answer your call at that time.”
“We were closed for business when you called.”
“We were having difficulties with our business phones and weren’t able to hear customers clearly.”
Focus on the Present
When you call someone back, make the most of the moment. Keep negative feelings to a minimum and while apologizing is good, don’t make your call about the apology. Move to the essential aspect of the call, which is finding out why someone called or spending time building a better relationship.
Some customers, friends, family members, and business partners will immediately realize that you probably didn’t miss their call on purpose. This is especially so if it’s not something that you do regularly or if when it does happen, you let them know that you value and appreciate their call.
You can say:
“I’m giving you a call back.”
“HI. I’m returning your call”
“I’m returning the call that I missed.”
By saying these things, you’re acknowledging that you missed their call.
If you’re calling someone in the UK or another country, the phrasing might be slightly different and you could also say:
“I’m phoning you back.”
Your phrasing may change a little, depending on how formal the situation might be. “I’m phoning you back”, is usually thought of as less formal than, “I’m returning your call.”
It’s important to focus on the present and what their needs are right now. It may be that the individual still wants to talk to you, still has a question that you can answer, or still has some other pressing need, even though there’s been a delay between their initial call and your response. Ensure that they are okay.
You can say:
“How are you doing? I saw your missed call.”
“I saw a missed call from you. Is everything okay?”
“‘I just checked my phone and saw your missed call. How are you?”
Delay A Lengthy Conversation
Sometimes you may suspect that a person is not calling because they want to ask you for anything. They may simply be calling to find out how you are doing and to remind you that they enjoy spending time with you, even if it’s only on the phone. In that case, even though you might not be able to call them back immediately, you can inform them that you have seen their missed calls and you will call them back later.
You can sometimes send a text message to let them know. You can also leave a message on their phone or call them but keep the conversation short.
You can say:
“I’m sorry that I missed your call. Was it urgent or can I call you back later?”
“Sorry that i missed your call. I had multiple calls in the queue, but I will call you later to talk!“
“I saw your missed call. Let me call you back this afternoon.”
Suggest A More Ideal Time for Calling
Sometimes someone may habitually call at a particular time because it’s ideal for them. However, that time may not be ideal for you. They may call at a time when you have meetings scheduled and cannot answer your phone. They may even call when you’re doing your swimming lessons.
If a particular time is convenient for you for some reason, it’s good to let someone know directly. Tell them that you value them and enjoy talking to them but you don’t keep the phone near you while you’re swimming.
You could say:
“I’m sorry I missed your call yesterday. Saturdays are always so busy for me. “
“Sorry that I missed your call. That’s when i have my regular swimming session.”
“I’m sorry I missed your call this morning. We were trying to get the kids ready and the house was like a tornado.”
“I’m sorry I missed your call last night.“
It may also help to keep reinforcing the message that certain times are not good for you but you would welcome their call at another point.
Simply telling them when you’re busy is not enough. It can leave them feeling confused or unsure. They don’t know when you’re busy or what your day is like and if they call at another time, they may encounter the same problem.
Let them know when you will be more relaxed, have fewer challenges that you need to solve, or are in a less crowded area.
Nowadays, it can be difficult for many people to find a moment that is perfect for talking with a friend. However, you may be able to make the most of your phone conversations by encouraging calls at times that are ideal for you.
How to Respond to a Missed Call by Text
The response to a missed call via text message should start with an apology and then include your preferred way to proceed. E.g., “Sorry we were unable to take your call as we are currently on a customer call. We will call you back on this number before the end of the day. Regards.”
You do not have to offer elaborate reasons why you did not answer. You can do this later in your conversation if necessary. The text message should let the other person know that you noticed the call and will respond to it as soon as possible.
It is entirely normal to have to ignore a call now and then during the day, and of course, your caller is aware of this. Therefore, to maintain common courtesy, it is only necessary to briefly let the other person know and show some appreciation for the attempt to call.
Is It Rude Not to Answer a Phone Call?
Not answering a call is not rude, as there can be proper reasons why you don’t want to talk on the phone right now. These include business appointments, romantic meetings, or general leisure activities.
Imagine you are on the playground with your godchild when suddenly the phone rings. If you rarely get to spend time with your godchild, it would be inappropriate to start a phone conversation at this time.
It could also be that you are at sports and don’t even notice your phone. Or you may be in a meeting at work and unable to start another conversation.
A call is an attempt to reach you, which always but also has a certain probability that the other person will not pick up. This is also generally known and accepted.
Nevertheless, you should call back as soon as you can, unless you were able to clarify the opportunity otherwise. Then you can be sure in any case that your behavior was not rude.
When possible, call back. Missed calls might be missed opportunities.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.