Receptionist Tips for Handling Phone Calls in 2024

Written by Nicky Walker - Senior Marketing Developer
5th December 2016 

There are many different customer service roles out there, and many ways to be an effective member of a customer service team. Whether you are in retail, client services, hospitality, sales or any other customer-facing role, you are bound to face a number of difficult calls involving people who are unhappy.

You are the front line of interaction, and often at times the person representing our client’s entire company; as such, you will want to handle difficult interactions with customers professionally – while still maintaining your dignity.

Why Receptionists Need to Handle Phone Calls Effectively

Receptionists play a pivotal role in ensuring excellent customer service through effective handling of phone calls. When incoming calls are managed with precision and a personal touch, it sets the tone for positive interactions with potential customers. Answering the phone promptly with a warm “Good morning” and listening carefully to the caller’s needs create an immediate sense of attentiveness and care.

Effective communication is paramount in this role, as receptionists must convey information accurately and efficiently. By understanding the importance of directing calls to the correct person or department, receptionists ensure that callers reach the appropriate individual without unnecessary delays or frustrations. This personalized approach not only enhances the caller’s experience but also reflects positively on the company’s professionalism and dedication to customer satisfaction.

Moreover, receptionists serve as the initial point of contact for many callers, making their interactions instrumental in shaping the overall impression of the organization. By handling phone conversations with tact and courtesy, receptionists can leave a lasting positive impact on potential customers, fostering goodwill and potentially turning inquiries into business opportunities.

In essence, receptionists need to handle phone calls effectively to uphold the standards of exceptional customer service, provide a personal touch to interactions, and ensure that each caller feels valued and heard from the moment they make contact with the company.

Here are 5 ways we train our receptionists to handle difficult clientele calmly:

1. Listen

Truly listen to what the person is saying. Acknowledge the issue(s) and repeat things back to the customer to let them know you’re absorbing everything.

An angry customer just wants to be heard – not dismissed or ignored.

2. Empathize

Step out of your comfort zone as you, yourself, in your own world with your own problems, and put yourself in your customer’s shoes while they’re venting their problem to you. This isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.

Keep Calm and Empathize

Empathizing with the customer allows you to attempt resolving the issue calmly and objectively instead of defensively and subjectively. Think about all the times you’ve been unhappy with a service and have had to be the customer approaching the company; it can be difficult, and you’re not always in your best form. This little bit of understanding on your part can have extremely beneficial results.

3. Pause and consider

If your customer is going around in circles, or screaming and not listening to you, repeat the issues back to them and then offer to organise a call back once you have informed our client of the problem and hopefully made some progress with a resolution. Even if you don’t know what the solution is, our client should and offering to get back to the customer later gives them time to think about how best to handle the situation, and gives the customer time to calm down.

Taking a step back and remaining silent for a short period of time can give both parties time to process things and shift to a more diplomatic approach.

4. Be Communicative and Attentive

Let the customer know they are your number one priority in that moment, and follow up with them if applicable; if there is an issue that is ongoing, check in with them via phone or email. Even if you aren’t calling with a solution, people appreciate you letting them know they are on your radar and are important.

5. Consult Your Manager or Team Leader

If you feel as if you’ve exhausted all your attempts and resources, bring it to your manager or team leader. Their job is to advocate both for the customer’s best interests and for the well-being of their staff. They can effectively mediate and come up with decisive solutions which are most beneficial for the customer, the representatives, and the company overall. They can (and should) mentor you to deal effectively with similar situations in the future.


How Should Receptionists Answer the Phone?

Receptionists should answer the phone promptly and professionally. A typical greeting might include the company name followed by a warm salutation such as “Good morning” or “Good afternoon.” It’s essential to speak clearly and with a friendly tone to make callers feel welcome and valued.

Additionally, receptionists should listen carefully to the caller’s needs and respond appropriately, providing assistance or directing the call to the correct person or department.

Why Should Receptionists Avoid Putting Callers on Hold?

Receptionists should strive to avoid putting callers on hold whenever possible to maintain excellent customer service. Being put on hold can be frustrating for callers, leading to a negative perception of the company’s responsiveness and professionalism.

Instead, receptionists should aim to address inquiries promptly or offer alternatives such as taking a message or providing an estimated wait time if a brief hold is necessary. Minimizing hold times demonstrates respect for the caller’s time and enhances the overall experience.

What is a Virtual Receptionist?

A virtual receptionist is a remote service provider who handles incoming calls and performs receptionist duties for businesses remotely. Unlike an on-site receptionist, a virtual receptionist operates from a remote location, often using technology such as virtual phone systems and online communication tools to manage calls and provide customer support.

Virtual receptionists offer many benefits, including cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and scalability, making them an attractive option for businesses seeking professional call handling without the need for a physical presence on-site.

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