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How do you sound to your customers and co-workers? First impressions are lasting impressions. That’s why every telephone conversation counts. The impression you make on your co-workers and customers is based on your tone of voice, energy and attitude.

Because so many workplace transactions are conducted solely by telephone, it is extremely important to have an awareness of how you sound during these conversations. This is just the first step in improving your telephone skills. When you know what to listen for, you can identify and correct verbal habits or mannerisms that may create barriers between you and your customers.

Here are 5 easy tips to improve your telephone voice:

  1. Smile! You will convey a pleasant and cooperative attitude. A smile communicates that you are approachable, professional, and that you genuinely care about your customers. If you don’t convey all three of these messages, why on Earth would anyone want to do business with you?
  2. Good posture will inject more energy into your voice. Sit up straight or even stand to demonstrate enthusiasm for providing exceptional service. Tiredness or low energy on the telephone sound like apathy to a caller.
  3. Be an attentive listener so you can fully understand your customer’s needs. Your customer can tell whether or not you are actively listening. Provide feedback by summarizing what they have shared with you. “Uh-huh” is not appropriate feedback!
  4. Avoid being distracted by email, or other people in your department. Stay focused on your call so that your customer can hear that you are fully engaged in the conversation.
  5. Be courteous at all times, even when a customer is challenging. Remember to use the words, “please” and “thank you” frequently and sincerely. A warm, empathetic tone of voice will communicate professionalism and reaffirm your customer’s decision about doing business with your company.

Here are 7 message-taking tips to boost your professional credibility:

  • Explain that the person to whom they wish to speak is unavailable. (It is not necessary to give the caller details).
  • Ask the caller if you or anyone else can help them.
  • Don’t promise any activity on the part of the person for whom you are taking the message.
  • Spell the caller’s name correctly and include their area code, phone number, plus the date and time of the call. Repeat all of the information and ask the caller to verify that it is accurate. If the caller has a complicated name, write it out phonetically so your co-worker can pronounce it correctly when he or she returns the call.
  • Find out how soon the caller needs the call returned and what is the most convenient time to reach them.
  • Write the purpose of the call and the expectations of the caller on the message.
  • Keep your note brief and deliver it as soon as possible.

A single phone conversation can determine whether or not a customer will continue to do business with your company. The way you handle each call reflects on your department, your company, and most importantly, on you.


Debra J. Schmidt is known as the Loyalty LeaderĀ® and is the author of Building Customer Loyalty from the Inside Out. As a trainer and professional speaker, Debra helps companies boost profits by leading the way to greater customer loyalty. For more information visit her website: LoyaltyLeader.com.