A Telephone Operator
Receiving phone calls: Instructions
Always use a standard phrase such as: “Hello! Intercollege, may I help you?” Always be polite: Do not be rude, politeness is what matters. Be natural: do not pretend. Speak naturally and slowly, so people can understand you without difficulty. Speak clearly: do not chew your pencil, chewing gum, food etc. Answer without delay: prolonged telephone ringing disturbs people around you and you probably risk missing a phone call. But the most important is that the caller will get frustrated.
Do not move away from the phone, unless there is someone to replace you.
Make sure that you have noted the name and the phone number of the caller. Therefore, ask the caller to spell their name (especially, in the case of a foreigner) and give their phone number, or repeat it yourself to make sure that you have not made a mistake. Never forget a caller on hold: if you have asked someone to wait (either because you are trying to find the person that they want to speak to, or for any other reason), you should speak to them from time to time, in order to assure them that you have not forgotten about them. If you are not sure about the waiting time, give them the option to decide by saying:“Would you rather leave your name and number so that I could get back to you later, or would you like to wait?”
If the phone call is from a strange person who is asking too many and detailed questions, ask for their name or the name of their company, as well as for their phone number. Tell them that someone will call back in order to provide them with all the information required. If the caller refuses to give a name or a number then they may have questionable intentions.
Never hang up the phone hastily or unexpectedly
Never hang up the phone hastily or unexpectedly. Never behave in a way that may give other people the impression that by answering the phone you are doing them a favour, or that the phone call has interrupted you from doing something.
Screening Phone calls Screening calls is very important and every secretary should know how to do it. In order to screen a call, you need detailed information about the person who is asking for screening. For example: Does the person asking for call screening need to know: just the name of the person who is calling ? or the name of the company and the reason for the call?
It is also very important to know from the beginning if the person who is asking for call screening will accept all calls or just some specific ones. Remember that you should know exactly which phone calls may be accepted by the directors or the managers of a company, and which ones may not. If all calls are to be accepted, you may mention to the caller that the person they wishes to speak to is available and that you are going to put them through. There are certain cases when people hesitate or refuse to reveal their names. In this case you could help them by saying: “ Mr.… is willing to speak to you but he would like to know your name.” If you sound sincere, then a sentence like this usually helps.
If the caller refuses to give their name, this could mean that:
It may be a very personal or confidential matter. It may concern a transaction that most probably cannot be executed. The person who is calling may suspect or know that their call is unwanted.
Remember: First- If you wish to control the calls that you accept, give the impression that the person asked for is not available. Second- Ask to take a message. This will give you the time and the opportunity to find out the name of the then decide accordingly.
Do not forget that screening is a delicate procedure
Do not forget that screening is a delicate procedure. The important point is not what you are saying, but what the person at the other end of the line thinks you are trying to say. If you know that a recipient is willing to accept all phone calls, then tell the caller immediately that you are putting them through. If the recipient is not willing to accept all calls, but only a few, then inform the caller that the person requested is not available and ask to take a message, so that you can decide later what to do.
1. When screening calls Dont say…. Say instead…
He wants to know who’s calling. Mr…. isn’t taking calls this afternoon. He’s out right now. Call back later. May I ask who's calling? Will you please wait while I see if he’s in? He’s not at his desk right now. Can I take a message?
2. If the line is busy Don’t say…. Say instead…
He’s still on the phone. What do you want to do? His line is busy. Can you call back? I’m sorry, but he’s on another call. Would you care to wait or can I have him return your call? I’m afraid his line is busy. Would you mind holding?
3. Your boss is out of the office Don’t say…. Say instead…
Mr. … is not here today and I don’t know when he’s due back. I don’t know where he is… Mr… is out of the office today. We expect him back tomorrow. Mr. .. is out of the office at the moment, but I expect him back shortly.
4. Making certain on names, numbers, etc. Don’t say…. Say instead…
Gosh, that’s a funny name… would you spell it please? Does he have your number? I’ll put your message on his desk. Would you please spell your name for me? Can I have your number, please? I’ll make certain he receives your message.
5. Putting someone on hold Don’t say…. Say instead…
Please hold (and then do so without waiting for response). He’s not in his office but I know he’s here. Would you mind waiting?
Taking Messages Write down the whole message without hesitating to ask for exact information. Always write the name of the caller, the date and the time, and sign your initials. Write down the organisation the caller is from, the number, the code (where necessary) and the extension. Do not accept the statement “He has my number”. Maybe he knows it or maybe he has it written in his telephone directory, but by writing it down with the message, you save time.
Write short messages to show the action that the recipient should follow: Should he call back? Should you call back? What should the recipient do? All these should be written down. If you ever receive a call from a frustrated or angry caller (sometimes you can feel it in their tone of voice), you should write this down. Additional information like this may be valuable. Every time you take a message, you are responsible for giving it to the recipient with as much information as possible.
On Hold and Putting Through
You may ask a caller to wait on hold only in 4 cases: If you need to look for information from another source, in order to help the caller. If, while you are helping someone, you need to answer a second line. If, while you are answering a call, it is necessary to talk to a colleague or someone needs to tell you something. If you have to put the call through to someone else.
Always use the hold button when you ask someone to wait.
In addition, you should use the following instructions: Ask for the caller’s permission to put them on hold. No one likes hearing the word “wait” and then immediately after a click. Even if you are in a hurry, never forget to ask for permission in a polite and warm way: “Just a minute, please!”. It takes the same time and needs less effort than saying, “ Wait, Sir”.
Always put yourself in the caller’s place and remember that the button you have just pressed says HOLD and not IGNORE. If for any reason you have to delay, apologise to the caller who is waiting and explain why it is taking so long. If the caller cannot wait, offer to call them back. Finally, when you return to the caller, thank them for waiting.
If many lines are ringing at the same time, do not show your frustration, be polite.
Compare these two examples: Phone ringing…. Intercollege. Wait a minute. Intercollege. Just a moment, please…. How can I help you?
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