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Basic Telephone Skills

ASPCA, National Shelter Outreach


Basic Telephone Skills

Although companies differ, it is not unusual to have more than 80 percent of customer contact provided by telephone.

The success of a company depends on customers. These customers will not return unless they are treated professionally and courteously.

Top Complaints

  • Rude or uncommunicative person
  • Lost on hold
  • Unprofessional manner
  • Being switched from person to person
  • Hurried — rushing caller
  • Not giving company or personal name
  • Talking too much
  • Not being knowledgeable


  • Answer calls promptly
  • Give your name when you receive a directed call
  • Ask before putting person on hold and WAIT for answer


  • Speak in a monotone
  • Give your name if you are on the switchboard
  • Transfer callers from person to person



Answering the Phone:

  • Greet the caller
  • State your organization (department)
  • Introduce yourself
  • Offer your help
  • “Good morning. XYZ Animal Shelter, Laura Brown speaking. How may I help you?”

    If Necessary to Interrupt:

  • Excuse me, I need to interrupt because I’m not the person to answer your question.
  • Excuse me, will you wait a moment, I have another incoming call.

    When Leaving the Line — Explain:

  • Will you please wait while I check?
  • Always use the hold button — never leave the line open

    Managing the Angry Caller:

  • Listen — so you will understand the problem or concern
  • Relate — apologize in a general way or in a broad sense
  • Propose an action plan — that will solve the problem

    Managing the Talkative Caller:

  • Ask closed questions — that elicit yes or no answer

    “Did you? Do you? Will you? May I do that?

  • Use space control
  • Provide little space between your statements
  • Provide minimal respons
  • Do not invite unnecessary conversation

    Closing the Conversation:

  • Thank the customer for calling
  • Let the customer know you appreciate his/her business
  • Let the customer hang up first


  • Avoid side conversations. Your party deserves your full attention.
  • Never eat or drink while talking.
  • If you have several callers on hold, remember the priority of each call.
  • If necessary, make notes of who is holding and on which line
  • Thank the caller for being patient

© 2001 ASPCA

Courtesy of

424 East 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128-6804


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