Phone Etiquette Tips for the Receptionist or Secretary

Ways to Properly Address US Callers

How to address callers can be very confusing because of the many options available. It helps to be aware of your company’s policy and use that as a guideline. If you know who’s calling, then it’s polite to address the caller properly by his or her title. (i.e. Good morning Mr. Brown, Good afternoon Ms. Sanders). Here are some of the most common ways to address a caller.

  1. By their professional titles such as Dr. Baker or Professor Jones
  2. By their first name. Never address an unfamiliar caller by his or her first name. However, occasionally, the caller will refer to themselves by their first name only and in that case, it can be appropriate to call them by their first name.
  3. As an adult male or female such as Mr. Ms. or Mrs.
  4. Sir (adult male) and Ma’am or Madam (adult female). Yes, Ma’am and Sir are words of respect and can still be used when appropriate.
  5. Miss – last name (an unmarried woman).

While on the Call – Managing your Caller

You’re off to a great start by learning how to professionally greet the caller. With your courteous and positive attitude, you’ve already shown your customer that you care. However, how you handle your customers request will determine how your customer will remember you and your company. Here are a few tips for managing your customer call:

  1. Give your customer your full attention by actively listening to their request without interrupting. The ability to listen is a problem in general but it is very important to listen to what the caller has to say.
  2. Summarize the customers request, whether that’s taking a message or looking up some information. It is always a good habit to repeat the information back to the client when you are taking a message. Verify that you have heard and transcribed the message accurately.
  3. Interact through-out the call by building rapport and adding a personal touch. Always keep the customer informed by explaining what you’re doing during the call. Saying something as simple as “It’ll take just a minute for me to bring up your account details. How are you doing today?” will go a long way.
  4. Be patient and helpful. If a caller is irate or upset, listen to what they have to say and empathize with them by saying statements such as “I understand how you are feeling right now. I will get this resolved as soon as possible“. Never snap back or act rude to the caller.
  5. Always focus on the call. Try not to get distracted by people around you. If someone tries to interrupt you while you are on a call, politely remind them that you are on a customer call and that you will be with them as soon as you are finished.

Putting Callers on Hold

There are many reasons why you may need to put a caller on hold as it’s not always possible in today’s busy work climate to be able to locate the correct person or find the information the caller needs immediately. Also, being placed on hold tends to be a frustrating and unproductive time for most callers so handling this situation with care is extremely important. Following a few simple practices will help ensure your caller remains on the line and feels informed at all times.

  1. Always ask for permission to put the caller on hold and wait for the customer to answer. If you are responsible for answering multiple calls at once, always ask the caller politely if you may put them on hold. Remember that the caller could have already waited several minutes before getting connected to you and may not take lightly to being put on hold.
  2. Check back with the caller periodically, preferably every 30 seconds. Never leave the person on hold for too long without checking back or they may become upset and hang up.
  3. Thank the caller for holding and apologize for the wait time if necessary.
  4. Transfer the caller to the person they were holding for or provide them with the information they requested.

Ending the Call

Ending the call is just as important as the initial caller greeting as this is your last opportunity to make sure the caller is completely satisfied with the service they received and that they hang up with a positive impression of your company. Here are some tips on how to end the call professionally.

  1. Thank the caller for calling and summarize what you did for the customer.
  2. Let the caller know you appreciate their business.
  3. Offer to help in the future by letting the customer know how to contact you or your company.
  4. Say goodbye but always let the caller hang up first. Here is an example of ending the call:

“Thank-you for calling Mr. Barton. We very much appreciate your order and it has been a pleasure doing business with you. If you find you need additional assistance, please call us back at 800-555-1212.”

From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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