Telephone Skills

by Babs Moore

Preparing for an incoming call

You can often predict the nature of incoming calls, bearing in mind such factors as

  • Your role
  • The time of day or month
  • The absence of a colleague
  • A recent product release.

Much of the material in the section on Preparing for an outgoing call can be relevant, especially if the incoming call is a scheduled one.

In some circumstances, for example at a call centre taking orders, there will be a very rigid incoming call procedure, with scripts to ensure that certain information is captured and legal requirements are fulfilled.

For more general incoming calls, a limited script can be created to cover typical types of call (technical help, basic information seeking, complaints, cold calls and sales enquiries). This should include essential information. The initial response of the person answering the call is also crucial as it should help the caller to quickly establish whether they are talking to the right person or should ask to be transferred.

Obviously, there is always the chance that a completely unexpected call may arrive at someone’s desk, but even in such cases it is possible to give a professional response if you have a structure ensuring that you note down who has called, from which company and why, together with agreed actions.


The introduction will depend on the kind of call that is expected. It should, however, be clear, friendly and informative, but not so long that it becomes tiresome to say and sounds it too!

A switchboard operator will probably not use their name but will ensure that the company name is clear and the welcome friendly: for example, ‘Good morning, Gerrard’s Computer Products – how may I help?’ A call centre person would be more likely to add their name into the above. For internal or transferred calls, it is unnecessary to give the company name, as it may also be for direct line numbers to which only existing contacts have access. The important thing is to be consistent, appropriate and informative in the introduction.