The Basic Etiquette of Transferring a Business Call

Proper business telephone etiquette can make a positive impression on your clients and customers. Transferring a telephone call is more than just knowing what buttons to push on your telephone system. The business telephone etiquette that you and your employees use every day is a direct reflection of your company.

You can either put forward a professional impression or one that is lacking. Whether your employee is the chief financial officer or a temp charged with answering the phones, make sure everyone in your company is up to speed on how to transfer a call professionally. 

Explain Why You Need to Transfer the Call

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People can forgive a lot of things, but rudeness in the workplace is not one of them. Politely explain to the caller why you need to transfer the call. It could be that the caller reached the wrong department or the wrong extension in the right department.

Another reason for transferring a call could be that only another department can answer the question, or you don't have enough authority to make the decision the caller is seeking. Regardless, make sure callers know exactly why their call needs transferring so that they don't think you're just passing the buck.

Give Your Information First

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Always give callers your name and extension just in case you get disconnected. It lets them know that you're personally concerned about their situation. You also want to prevent a situation where a caller is disconnected and has to start all over again from scratch, explaining the situation to yet another company representative.

You should also tell callers the name of the person or department you're transferring them to, and give that extension number as well. No matter what business you are in, everyone is in the business of good customer service. 

Ask Permission to Initiate the Transfer

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Once you've established rapport with the caller, ask the caller for permission to initiate the transfer. This request also gives the caller a chance to ask any other questions or express any other concerns to you. It also allows callers to say that they will call back when they have more time

Sometimes it happens that a caller does not want to be transferred. If so, find out why. Next, explain that the transfer would ensure they receive assistance as quickly as possible. Also, explain that you will give the next representative all the information on their call so far and that they won’t have to explain their situation again

Wait for an Answer

Female receptionist talking on phone
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Don't blindly transfer the call as soon as you hear the other phone ring. Wait for the other person to answer and explain why the call is being transferred. This step gives the next employee a chance to prepare for the call and prevents the caller from having to explain their situation or problem all over again.

Make an Introduction

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Return to the caller and announce the name and/or the department you're transferring them to. Thank the caller for his or her patience and ask if you can do anything else for them before hanging up. It helps if you can use the first or last name of the person to whom the caller is being transferred. It reinforces the personal connection you've established and further creates a feeling that the caller is being well taken care of. 

Complete the Transfer

Male receptionist talking on the phone
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Complete the transfer by connecting the caller with the other person or department. Remember to end your connection by hanging up the phone or disconnecting your headset. Because phone systems can be complicated, especially in big companies, you want to ensure you've entirely disconnected yourself from the call. If you're new to the job, it pays to experiment a few times with a colleague before actually transferring a call.

How to End the Call

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There are several reasons for ending a call once you're engaged with the caller. However, whatever reason you have, no matter how legitimate, you must disengage in a professional manner. The most common reason for ending a call is that you've come across a long-winded talker—someone who will consume too much of your time and prevent you from going about your business.

Another less common reason is that the caller is using abusive, threatening, or vulgar language. Unfortunately, people with anger management problems feel they can vent their hostility on strangers, especially those in the service industry or a service position. Consult your company's policy and procedures on how to handle this type of situation to avoid any legal ramifications. And remember, it's always better to put the caller on hold while you seek advice than to say something you might regret later. 

The Importance of Phone Etiquette

The telephone is often your customer's or client's first contact with your business. You want that experience to be the best it can be. Mainly, you don't want customers hanging up and calling your competition, so it's worth investing time in training your staff in proper phone etiquette.