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Telephone use has become ubiquitous in the last few decades. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that does not operate in some way using a phone.

Despite the fact that phones are so common and vital to today’s organizations, a concerning amount of customer service representatives are not using essential telephone skills much to the detriment of their organization!



Why do phone skills matter in this day and age?

Many businesses are in need of a return back to the basics when it comes to how their employees are handling phone calls. This is especially true given that the majority of customers of all age groups use the phone when they’re in need of service assistance, according to Zendesk. A report by CFI Group puts the number of people who prefer to receive service over the phone at 76%!

Even for those who prefer to avoid the phone, there will be circumstances where it’s simply impossible to get service in another way. For these customers who would rather not have to engage in a phone call at all, it is extra important to ensure proper phone skills are utilized to make the experience as painless as possible.

Phone Skills Statistic

Customer frustrations

This reliance on phone service comes with its own set of frustrations for customers. Zendesk, in their 2020 customer trends report, shared that 51% of their survey respondents indicated that they expect to wait less than five minutes when seeking out service on the phone. Long waits on the phone, then, can cost companies customers, as consumers will consider long wait times a component of poor customer service.

66% of respondents in a report from Forrester shared that having a company value their time is the most important thing they could do. Leaving a customer on hold or waiting to receive service will most definitely not feel to the customer as though their time is being valued.


Additionally, Zendesk’s report shows that for many companies, phone service is rapidly expanding and is an area of focus for the organization. With an increased focus on providing phone support to customers, companies should ensure now more than ever that their employees are using the proper skills. It would be safe to assume that many are not.

Simple telephone skills

The good news is that customer service provided over the phone can be improved by ensuring that your employees know ten simple skills. These include:

  • Handling putting a caller on “hold” correctly
  • Using the caller’s name effectively
  • Being prepared to take a message
Side view of female manager assisting her staffs in a call center

Given that you already know that callers generally despise being put on hold, particularly for long periods of time, you’ll likely understand why it’s so important to correctly handle those situations in which you have no other choice but to put a caller on hold.

Prior to putting any customer or colleague on hold, let the caller know precisely what you’ll be doing that requires you to put them on hold. Then, give them an option – ask if they’re okay with being put on hold. If they’re not happy to wait on hold, give them options that will allow you to provide support in a way that works for you both.



Customer service interactions can feel impersonal and, when done poorly, unfriendly. One way to combat this is by asking for and using your customer’s name throughout the conversation. Learning the caller’s name, pronouncing it correctly, and using it throughout the call is an effective way to demonstrate to the customer that you’re committed to helping. Asking for the customer’s name also provides you with an opportunity to ensure that their file is up to date. If you’re ever unsure of how to pronounce or spell a caller’s name, respectfully ask for them to clarify for you.

Some people, particularly Millennials and members of Generation Z, prefer to avoid talking to a live person on the phone when possible. In these cases, they may hope to receive a voicemail so that they can leave a message requesting to be emailed or contacted by another means. So, it might seem unfathomable to these individuals that other people would prefer to speak to a representative, even when given the option of leaving a voicemail if the person they wished to speak to is unavailable.

For these situations where you’re taking a message on behalf of someone else, be prepared with a pen and paper readily available (or, if you prefer, be prepared to type up notes). Take down the message with as much detail as possible and pass it along to the intended recipient in a timely manner. Don’t rely on your own memory to capture and pass along the message accurately and quickly, as you’re unlikely to remember the caller’s name, phone number, and exact message.

To learn the remaining Essential Telephone Skills that will unlock high-quality customer service over the phone as well as the recommended Telephone Doctor greeting, contact a ServiceSkills representative today and request a free demo.