How to Answer the Phone Professionally: 10 Tips for Businesses

Amongst a growing range of channels in which a customer can reach a business, phone calls still matter. Answering the phone in a professional manner is important to the image of a company. It can play a key factor in a customer’s purchase decisions and should lie at the heart of a business’s service strategy. It’s therefore important to get it right.

But how to answer the phone professionally at your business is something you need to get right. Here are our top 10 tips for answering the phone professionally in your business.

How to answer a phone call professionally

1. Answer the phone quickly

Leaving the caller waiting can be frustrating and can get the conversation off to a bad start. Have a rule in place which states how long a phone should ring before it’s picked up.

Most customer expect a business to answer their phones in as little as five rings. Create that rule, make everyone aware, and you could reduce customer frustration and stop losing out on potential business.

2. The first few seconds count

Customers will make an impression of your company within just a few seconds of speaking to your staff. In fact, a recent study from Forbes revealed that businesses only have 7 seconds to make a good impression – we talk in more depth about this in our guide on what to look for in a virtual receptionist.

It’s hard to make an impression when there is no face to face contact, so they way in which you answer the phone is going to be critical to how the customer perceives you and your business.

3. Be polite and friendly

Which brings us onto the most obvious of tips, but you would be surprised at how many businesses get this wrong; be polite and friendly!

Even if you struggle to answer your caller’s query or complaint, having a polite and friendly manner can potentially offset any potential irritation on the customer side. A friendly manner alone will get you a long way with your caller.

4. Smile when you pick up the phone

Smile when you are talking. Even though the caller can’t see you, the simple act of smiling will come through in your tone of voice.

This can really help you sound warm and enthusiastic and is a critical aspect on how to answer calls more professionally in any business.

5. Identify yourself as well as the other person

By clearly telling the caller your name and business, it can help to clarify that they have called the right number. It’s best to introduce the business and yourself when you answer. For example, a professional answer to an incoming business call could be:

“Good morning. This is (business name). You’re speaking to (your name). How may I help you?”

6. Speak clearly

You want the recipient to be able to understand everything that is being said without any confusion, in the most professional manner.

When you answer the phone you are representing the company so speak clearly with clarity.

7. Always stay positive

If you find yourself faced with a question you don’t know the answer to, tell them that you can find the answer they need, even if that means arranging to call them back.

A caller would much rather hear a positive response than a simple negative.

Avoid any negative language and leave the caller with the confidence that you can help them with their query.

8. Need to call them back?

If you do need to call them back, either ell them when you can do it, or more importantly, check with them what a good time for them is.

And follow up on your promise.

A quick way to alienate your customers is to promise them a call back, and then not deliver on it.

9. Make quick and professional transfers

If the call is specifically for another person, tell the caller that you can check if they are available, and transfer them quickly.

If the right person isn’t available, it’s worth taking a message to pass on at a later time.

10. Learn how to answer the phone systems smoothly

A failed transfer can cause accidental hang ups which can be frustrating for the other person.

Arrange a professional answerphone system in case their call cannot be taken and make sure it is returned.


No matter how large or small your company, every single member of staff should be trained properly on how to answer the phone professionally at your business.

You never know when a customer can call, and it might not always be your customer service team or receptionist who take the call. That’s why it’s imperative that professional call answering is something everybody can do.

The manner by which you answer the phone will often be the first time a new customer will ever get an impression of you, and if done badly, it can be the last.

If you don’t have the time to answering the phone professionally, or perhaps just need some more support, take a look at our virtual receptionist services.

We can handle the calls for you, ensuring that your customers always talk to a professional and friendly speaker.