Common Phone Etiquette Mistakes Customer Service Representatives Make

Woman makes a phone call


We’ve all called into a business seeking help or guidance, being greeted with the same generic script and tone of voice at the other end of the line.

“Can you hold for just a moment while I look into this please?”


It’s never just a moment, though. Often that one moment turns into a few minutes and then a few more after that.


Then you’re a little upset and ready to hang up the phone.


Did you know that businesses have lost $1.6 trillion in revenue after bad customer service?


Customers are the lifeline of a business, so you should be doing everything that you can to keep them feeling happy and valued. Luckily, a few changes from your CSR team on the phone is a great place to start to improve phone etiquette.


What Are Some Examples of Bad Phone Etiquette?

Can You Get Me the Phone Number?


Did you know that bad phone etiquette can start before your CSR even has a chance to answer the phone?


The first critical mistake that is made before a customer even has a chance to dial the phone is for your phone number to be difficult to find.


When you have a line that you want your customers to call, it’s important to make the phone number as accessible as possible. Put it on your website, your business cards, your letters and your vehicles. Many customers will go to Google to find a number that they need to call quickly.


It’s also a great idea to consider a toll-free or custom number for your business. That makes it even easier for customers to reach you.


Get Ready for the Phone to Ring


When the calls start coming in, it’s good phone etiquette to answer quickly.


It’s not fun for the customer on the other end to listen to endless ringing and it’s likely that they’ll hang up. Picking up quickly when it rings can improve the happiness of the customer on the other end of the line.


First Impressions Are Important


Upon calling, your customer will be met with two things: a greeting and a tone of voice that can affect the rest of the conversation.


When greeting your customer, it’s a good idea to have a standard opening line. The trick is to make this something that stands out and sets you apart from other companies.


The tone that your CSR uses when answering phones is also important. A bland or blunt tone can make a customer feel unappreciated, while a cheery or understanding tone can make them feel good about calling you.


Remember, phone conversations are great for building up relationships with your customers!


Mixing Up Names


If a customer tells you that their name is Sally at the beginning of the call, make sure to remember it! If you later refer to them as “Sammy,” it likely won’t leave a good impression on them. If you’re unsure of the name or other information that they gave you at the beginning of the call, it’s a good idea to ask for it one more time just to be sure.


But this brings us to the next important point…


Don’t Ask For Too Much


There should always be a good balance when asking questions to your customers over the phone. Think about the crucial information that you need and make sure that those questions are asked first. You can always spice it up with a positive comment or two in between!


Customers Call For a Reason


When you receive a call, your customer is likely looking to have a question answered, to book an appointment or to receive a service.


One important part of answering the phone is to understand the needs of your customers. Make sure to pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for and find an answer to their needs.


Providing them with the information that they ask for will leave a good impression and have them coming back to your company for more.


Can I Put You On A Quick Hold?


Putting a customer on hold is a useful tool when it’s used in moderation. If fact, it’s been shown that most customers will hang up when placed on hold for two minutes or more.


This means that it’s best to use the hold option only in the most necessary situations. Typically, businesses use it when searching for information for the customer. According to this study, it’s best to make this as quick as possible!


Choosing a business phone system with hold music helps to create a professional image.


So Many Choices, So Little Time


Your business may have a lot to offer. That’s great!


But, too many choices can overwhelm your customer. The best thing to do in this situation is to narrow down the options to about two or three that will suit their needs best.


They’ll have an easier time deciding on what the best route to take with your business is.


This is true for automated attendants as well. Having a few choices to get your customers to the right person is fantastic, but you don’t want to overwhelm them with a super long list. Try to stick to four or five options.




It’s after-hours in the office and you have your voicemail machine set to take messages. That’s quite expected, but it’s important for your customer service representative to respond to these messages in a timely manner.


Customers value when a business can get back to them quickly. The faster that they can return the calls of customers, the better it is.


Phone system features like voicemail to email or text can help achieve that rapid response.  Your customer can then be sure that their call has reached the correct person and that they can expect a call back in the near future.


You could also consider investing in a live answering service to eliminate the need for customers to leave messages.


How Can I Improve the Phone Etiquette in My Small Business?


The best place to start when looking to improve phone etiquette within your business is to assess what isn’t working.


If you notice that any of the things mentioned in this article are taking place in your office, they can be easily addressed and fixed. Writing out a script, setting certain guidelines and working with employees can help make your calls more effective.


Are you looking for a solution to improve the phone service in your office? We can help. Check out our solutions to find the one that is best for you!


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