New Phone Etiquette, Who This?

Male virtual receptionist answering a call

Answering Service Care was established in 1974. That year, President Richard Nixon resigned, Stephen King published his first novel, and Leonardo di Caprio was born. We’ve come a long way since then! (Maybe not quite as far as Leo, but…) Of course, back then 46 years ago, there were different rules about how to answer a phone and hold a telephone conversation. We’ve changed with the times of course, always offering a contemporary and technologically advanced yet courteous service, but we thought it might interest some of you to look at what the standard was when our company was founded.

In general 70s telephone conduct, the thing to do was to answer the phone by greeting the caller and waiting for them to introduce themselves, or prompting them to do so if they neglected to. It was very impolite to hang up without first saying goodbye and waiting for the other caller to do the same. Of course, today, with caller ID, it’s rare that we need callers to introduce themselves, and the stray telemarketers and scammers that do get through deserve a swift hanging up at the very least. Party lines were another feature of telephone usage in the 70s. However, they were not without their setbacks. In 1970 three boys died while their mother begged a another woman and a girl to vacate the party line so she could call the emergency services. 

Business Telephone Etiquette

Of course, rules were very different for business calls in the 70s, as this Bell System video details.

  • General best practice was to dispense with greetings, as a waste of business time. On answering the phone, employees should say their name, or possibly their department followed by their name. Assistants and secretaries were to say the name of the office they were answering for, followed by their own name, for example: “Mr. Smith’s office: Miss Brown.”
  • There were specific rules for transferring calls. Using a different phone to transfer the call than the phone you received the call on could inhibit the ability of the switchboard operator to complete the transfer effectively.
  • It was considered good practice, when receiving a message to pass on, to repeat the content of the message back to the caller, in order to clarify the content and ensure it was all heard correctly.
  • Lazier executives and managers would often have their secretaries handle outgoing calls for them, and then have the secretary put their intended recipient through when they answered. This was generally felt to be inconsiderate, particularly when calling someone of a higher status.

Modern Telephone Etiquette

Things have advanced considerably since the days of switchboards and party lines. Now making and receiving calls has never been easier. That said, it is still important to practice good etiquette. Answering Service Care is committed to providing the very best customer service with the highest standards of etiquette and care.

Modern rules for cellphones are mainly concerned with how to best avoid making a nuisance of yourself while using your cellphone in public.

  • Don’t make personal calls at work. Take them outside: at least ten feet away from the building. If you’re lucky enough to have an office to yourself, close the door.
  • When you’re answering a desk phone at work, it’s good practice to say ‘<first name & last name>, with <company and department>. If an unknown number that you have reason to suspect is a business contact calls your cellphone, you can answer with ‘Hello, <first name & last name> speaking!’  
  • It’s best to put your phone on silent unless you’re expecting a call. Phone ringtones can disrupt meetings and events.
  • During meetings and events, put your phone away. It’s disrespectful to check your phone while your attention should be on the people with whom you are speaking.
  • Don’t text and drive. Don’t fiddle with your map apps while in motion. If you must make a call, make sure you’re on speakerphone.
  • When on speakerphone or switching a call to speakerphone, make sure that the person on the other end of the call knows they’re being put on speaker and who else is in the room with you.
  • Your phone should be silent and in a pocket or bag the entire time you’re in a church, temple, or other place of worship.
  • When starting a new job, your workplace might neglect to instruct you in how to transfer calls, put calls on hold, or play voicemails for your desk phone. Make sure to request full instruction in these basics: different phones may have different methods of doing these.
  • Don’t multitask when you’re on a business call. It’s important to give the other person your undivided attention.
  • Don’t use your phone while making transactions at the cafe or store. It’s very disrespectful to the cashier or assistant helping you.
  • When you’re the one who has to end a professional call, it can be difficult to strike the right tone. Experts suggest something along the lines of: ‘Thank you for your time. Goodbye.’ You could also try: ‘Let me know if you have any more questions. It was great talking with you. Bye for now.’
  • Without body language it can be difficult to convey the right tone in a phone conversation. Especially when speaking with someone for the first time, it’s critical to make the right impression. It’s recommended that you smile when making or answering professional calls to new people. Why? It is the best way of hacking your brain to ensure your tone comes across as friendly, earnest, yet professional.

Many things have changed, but some things remain the same: companies can trust Answering Service Care to provide the same great quality of service that will leave their callers satisfied, today as in 1974.

Want to improve your customer service and grow your business?

Let's Talk