Will your work contribution make history? Well, the work Emma Nutt accomplished did! She became the world’s first female telephone operator in 1878. Even a century after Nutt first connected a call; switchboards were still almost entirely staffed by women.

Before Graham Bell hired Nutt for a Telephone Dispatch Company in Boston, they were hiring boys as telephone operators. However, many boys lacked patience, played pranks and even cursed at the customers. Their attitude was impermissible.

The general customer response to Nutt’s refined behavior was immensely positive. Her example became the prototype all telephone companies began to mirror. Hiring Emma Nutt was not only beneficial for the company but it also altered how telephone industries run. Emma Nutt made history by being patient, savvy and by maintaining a cultured and soothing voice. Her work is the best reminder of why phone etiquette is an essential skill.

Implementing three essential categories of phone etiquette can help you answer the phone professionally and maintain telephone courtesy.

Category #1: Before Answering the Phone

Answering professional calls is nothing like answering personal calls. Your family and friends may forgive poor behavior but if you offend a customer you might lose them forever. Develop a script that will help you summarize your telephone ethics. Use the script only as a reference, don’t robotically recite from a telephone etiquette script.

Next, make sure you have a notepad and pen ready to take notes from customers. Taking notes will help you easily jump to problem-solving rather than asking customers to repeat their issues.

Do not use a speakerphone. Though speakerphones keep your hands free, talking to a speakerphone is irritating for a customer. Instead, use headphones. Remember to test the headphones before you start answering business phone calls professionally.

Category #2: During the Phone Call

Answer a call within three rings. Often calling customer service is the last thing a customer wants to do. If he has to wait for somebody to answer the phone, he might lose patience. Customers may think you’re not focused, don’t have the time or don’t care. Often, talking to a customer support agent is the customer’s first interaction with your company. Let them know you want the business, answer the call quickly.

Immediately introduce yourself and the company with a smile. This expresses warmth and encourages a positive start. Make it a habit to answer the call saying “Hi, this is [Your first name] from [Your company]. How can I help you?” A smile will add the necessary polite tone to your voice. All the efforts you put in to use elegant words will be futile if your tone doesn’t exhibit warmth and positivism. To better understand the importance of your tone, click here. This is a vital piece of telephone answering procedures.

Actively listen to what the customer has to say. Instead of mechanically replying to a customer’s question, base your response on their comments. Restate their question, project, or concern to make sure you got it right.

Ask permission from the customer before placing him/her on hold. That’s the most frustrating thing you can do over a business call other than not keeping your calm when dealing with irate customers. Here’s how you can handle angry customers.  Also, when putting a caller on hold, give them a rough estimate of when you will be back. If it takes you longer than that to get back, make sure you inform the caller.

Be aware of your volume. You want to be clear and perfectly audible. Do not raise your volume to a level that you may sound agitated.

Category #3: After the Phone Call

If you took notes during the phone call, it is easier to fulfill any commitments made during the call, including a follow-up call to the customer. This polite gesture will go a long way in winning the customer’s heart.

Make it a habit to check your voicemails. It is easy to miss a voicemail, but the customer will remember if you did not respond. When leaving a voicemail, make sure to tell the customer all the details why you made the call. Vague voicemails are easily ignored by the customer.

Being polite, attentive, and responsible are phone etiquette skills that are as important as providing a solution. If you need a reminder, pin a picture of Emma Nutt next to your phone! Be positive and cheerful always and win the customer over with your etiquette.