Although virtual receptionists are provided with scripts from their clients, callers may ask questions that are tough to answer. Follow these simple rules of etiquette to give callers a positive impression.

Focus on the Positive – Even When You Don’t Know the Answer.

Realistically, you will not know the answer to every question a caller asks. Rather than appearing uneducated about the client you represent, focus on finding an answer for the caller. For example,

Caller: “Is Mrs. Jones available?”
Refrain from this answer: “I don’t know. Let me try her line for you.”

Use one of these answers: 

  • “If you can please hold for one moment, I’d be happy to check for you.”
  • “I’m sorry, Mrs. Jones is unavailable at the moment but I’d me happy to take a message and let her know that you called.”

Skipping the statement “I don’t know” jumps right to offering help to the caller (the action part of the statement).

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Time-sensitive questions are sometimes difficult to address when you aren’t certain of the time frame.

Common time-related questions:

  • “When will Mrs. Jones be in?”
  • “When will Mrs. Jones return my call?”

Instead of stating a time without Mrs. Jones’ consent, deflect the question and offer assistance in your control. This removes the “I don’t know” and replaces it with positive statements. For example:

  • “Unfortunately, Mrs. Jones didn’t check out with me but I’d be happy to take a message and let her know that you called.”
  • “Mrs. Jones generally returns her calls in the order that they are received, therefore, it is difficult to say exactly when that would be. However, I will make sure she receives the message immediately.”

Choose the Method of Communication Preferred 

Every person is different when it comes to communicating throughout the day. Some people prefer responding to emails, others like to talk it out on the phone. Know what your client prefers and point callers in that direction.

  • “Mrs. Smith is currently out of the office, but has Internet access and will happily reply if you’d like to email her directly.”
  • “I’d be happy to forward you to Mrs. Smith’s voicemail and she will return your call as soon as she can.”

Simultaneously satisfy your client and your client’s callers by being aware of communication preferences.

Frances Starr, Director of Sales & Marketing for Alert Communications. Alert Communications provides 24/7 call answering support.