Phone etiquette for customer support teams

Nina Kozłowska
5 min readJan 14, 2020

Nowadays, the customer-centric approach has become a standard among companies. Increased customers’ expectations and business competition led to the need to provide outstanding customer service, making excellent communication skills one of the strongest assets of customer-facing agents.

At the same time, NewVoiceMedia’s study shows that 42% of consumers switch brands because they are put off by rude or unhelpful staff. Do not let such oversights to ruin your company’s reputation. Read on and improve your customer service team with the right phone etiquette.

Answer the phone ASAP

Do not intentionally make your customers waiting for you to pick up the phone. Always try to answer within three rings. Otherwise, customers can be annoyed. The waiting time to talk to the customer service agent can be sometimes longer than three rings if no one is available at the moment. In such cases, you should think of the solution. For example, provide callers with a welcome message and inform them about the estimated waiting time.

Introduce yourself

While making personal calls, you can simply start a conversation with „Hello”. When it comes to business calls, you should always introduce yourself and give information about the company’s name, or even specify the department. Sometimes, phone numbers within the company are very similar, and mistakes while dialling can happen to anyone. To give your interactions a friendly start, ask a caller how can you help them. That way, you can create a positive vibe from the first minute of the conversation.

Listen to the customers actively

During every business phone call, you should actively listen to your interlocutors. That means paying attention to every information and comment, taking notes and responding appropriately, not only with phrases taken directly from the scripts. Of course, you need to follow certain guidelines, but give your conversation a personal touch to make the callers feel that you care about them and you are willing to solve their issues. Listening actively also means that you can not interrupt. Take notes to remember what details might be helpful, but never interrupt when a caller explains their issues. While taking notes preferably use your call center software to save your comments for future interactions with a given customer.

Pay attention to the tone of your voice

Voice is an essential factor of how callers perceive agents. To make a connection with customers and show that your care, you need to use a friendly tone and steady volume throughout the entire call. Avoid sounding anxious, pushy or salesy. Put an effort to sound friendly and professional. Even if customers sound frustrated or angry, you should keep calm and kindly manage the situation. Try to find a perfect balance between speaking too loud and too quiet. Never shout, but make sure that customers can hear you clearly. Agents should not emphasize any personal opinions or biases. That professional approach will help to manage issues more effectively.

Use appropriate language

Another obvious aspect that differs personal and professional calls is language. To prevent even unintentional offending a customer, you should stick to the formal language and avoid jokes. You can never be sure what can upset your interlocutors, so it is better to be kind and polite, and definitely to avoid slang expressions.

Show empathy

Customer service team very often need to solve issues that are annoying and frustrating for clients. Do not give them more reasons to be upset. Show sympathy and understanding to customer’s situation. Highlight that your company cares about customers and will try to make every unpleasant event that happened in the past. You can never know when customers have a bad day, so there is no harm in remaining cheerful and help your brand to create loyal clients.

Ask before redirect or putting on hold

Sometimes customers call the company because they have more than one issues they would like to discuss. If you need to transfer a given customer to the right agent who is more qualified to help, you should ask if that is acceptable for them. Moreover, explain why it is necessary. That way, customers will understand why they need to explain their problems all over again to another person. Sometimes you probably have to put a customer on hold to check some information. Do not pretend that you know the answer if it is, in fact, the opposite. In order to help your customers in the best way, you can take your time to find the most accurate response. Make sure that your interlocutor is willing to wait and inform how long it is going to take, and again, that it is necessary.

Be competent

The customer-facing team is essential in building your brand’s trustworthy image. Agents must show a certain level of knowledge, which is why you should provide training regarding your products or services, as well as the industry itself. Invest time in this process to prepare your team for delivering excellent customer support. Think of the way to handle extremely complex issues. How can agents contact experts to find the right solutions? Design such scenarios and gather such information to share knowledge and let your agents learn from experience. While talking to customers, your employees need to be confident and sure of their actions.

Set boundaries

Sometimes customers demand too much from agents. Not every aspect can be handled by customer service or even a company in general. It can be helpful to share with your customers a document regarding your team’s competencies and responsibilities. That way, you can explain what you can and can not do. Such document can give your words credibility.

It can also happen that the customer is demanding to stay on the line until a given problem is entirely solved. While sometimes it takes time to fix issues, especially technical ones. In such situations, customers may be very determined and frustrated. Stay calm and professionally explain your follow up plan. Ensure a caller that you will take a closer look into their case, and do everything to prevent escalating the issue.

Some customers think that talking to a manager might be more helpful. When actually, managers are setting up rules and the company’s policy, so agents should have exactly the same approach. Try to convince your interlocutors that you are the right person to talk to.

Key takeaways

Hopefully, your team can benefit from the tips presented above. Your agents probably also have their own rules that can be applied in the whole team. Make a brain-storm, share ideas, and ask your coworkers for their opinions, because they are facing customer on a daily basis. Everyone can contribute to your company’s phone etiquette by sharing their experiences and insights. That way, you can create a right set of rules for your customer-facing team. Once all agents are familiar with the guidelines and ready to interact with customers, they can help you create a positive and trustworthy image of your brand.

Originally published at on January 14, 2020.