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How to Answer a Phone Call Professionally

Nothing makes someone cringe away from the phone more than being greeted poorly or unprofessionally when their call is answered. If you want to set yourself above the crowd in a professional environment, you must know how to answer a phone call professionally.

You’ve probably at some point called a business or even a coworker and been greeted with a gruff “Hey…” that left you confused on whether you reached the correct person.

The Gentleman’s Playbook wants to guarantee you’re equipped with the knowledge you need on how to answer the phone in a professional way.

No matter what job role you have, making sure you answer the phone in a professional manner is a vital hard skill you need in the workplace.

Answer Promptly

First, when it comes to learning how to answer a phone call professionally, you always want to answer the phone promptly.

a man answering the phone professionally by picking up promptly

This is especially true if your job is call-heavy (customer service or inbound sales, for example).

Shoot for answering the phone in two rings or less – three as the absolute maximum.

Outside of a workplace context, make sure you answer your phone quickly for anticipated or scheduled calls. If it’s a call that came unexpectedly, don’t stress if you didn’t answer promptly. A quick answer time is largely contextual.

Scenarios where you’ll want to make sure you answer the phone promptly are:

  • At Work
  • If You’re a Freelancer/Business Owner
  • If You’re Expecting the Call

Answer with Your Name or Business & Name

After you promptly answer your phone, there are two possible routes to go that depend on the scenario you’re in.

If this is a call to your personal phone, you can answer with a simple “This is Jake.” Use your name in place of the one in our example, of course!

On the other hand, if this is a call that’s being picked up from your work phone (or personal if you’re a freelancer or sales rep), you want to answer by clearly stating your business name and your own name. You then want to offer assistance or ask the intent behind the call.

Here are some examples:

  • Thank you for calling The Gentleman’s Playbook, this is Jake, how may I help you?
  • You’ve reached Jake at The Gentleman’s Playbook – what can I help you with today?

Notice how in both examples, the name of the organization and your name are clearly stated, followed by an offer to help the caller. This is extremely important – think back on a time you called a company and they answered with an unpleasant “Hello?” That kind of greeting can be confusing and unwelcoming, which is unprofessional.

Smile When Answering (for real)

As goofy as this sounds, answering the phone with a smile is a fantastic way to make sure you come across as warm and welcoming.

You want to make sure the caller who is reaching you feels like they can talk to you and ask you for help. By smiling, you trick your brain into making your vocal tone more warm and bright, which translates very well across the phone.

a man smiling while answering the phone in a professional way

This isn’t just a trick when learning how to answer a phone call professionally; it’s also helpful when you are the person making the outgoing call or just in general phone conversations!

Now is a great time for some phone call etiquette role play. Pretend you just got a phone call and physically pick up your phone to your ear. With a straight face, say, “Thank you for calling My Awesome Company, this is Jake. How can I help you?”

Set your phone down after this and take a moment. When you’re ready, pretend you received another phone call, physically pick up your phone to your ear, and, with a bright smile (even if it’s fake), say, “Thank you for calling My Awesome Company, this is Jake. How can I help you?”

Do you notice and feel the difference? If you don’t, perform the exercise a few more times until it feels right.

You can also record yourself pretend-answering the phone to see how different you sound when answering with a straight or frowning face compared to a bright smile!

Write Down Messages Immediately and Accurately

Lastly, a great tip for answering phone calls in a professional way is to make sure that any messages you need to take for someone are written down immediately and accurately.

Make sure you double confirm name spellings, phone numbers, email addresses, or any other pertinent information the caller provides you with. You want to have the caller vocally confirm the spelling they’ve provided you, just to make sure everything is correct.

While this goes a little deeper than just the initial phone call answer, it’s important to know.

Learn the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

On top of this, The Gentleman’s Playbook suggests learning the phonetic alphabet, which will help with making sure you don’t confuse similar-sounding letters such as N and M or B, V, and P.

learn the phonetic alphabet
From our guide that teaches you how to learn the phonetic alphabet.

The NATO phonetic alphabet assigns full words to each letter, such as Alpha for A, Bravo for B, and so on. So, the NATO phonetic spelling of the name Jake would be: Juliett, Alpha, Kilo, Echo. This makes it easy to convey spelling over the phone without confusion.

Answering the Phone Professionally is Simple!

You wanted to learn how to answer a phone call professionally – now you know!

While it may seem underwhelming or simpel, everything we’ve discussed above is all you need to know to answer a phone call in a professional way, with warmth, and without confusion.

Phone etiquette is often overlooked in both a personal and professional capacity, but having top-notch phone skills is a great way to set you above the competition for things like interviews, sales calls, customer service, and more.