Six Telephone Communication Skills Tips
for Customer Service

See also: Customer Service Skills

Talking with a customer on the phone can often be a difficult task.  Without seeing an individual’s face, messages can become muddled and meanings misinterpreted.

To improve your telephone communication skills, be sure to master the following tips:

1. Adopt a Positive Tone

Projecting an enthusiastic, natural, and attentive tone while on the phone can help a customer feel comfortable during a conversation.

When you answer the phone, smile as you greet the person on the other line.  Although it may be a bit of a cliché, a smile can truly be heard through the telephone. Smiling as soon as you connect with the customer will begin the interaction positively and create room for a productive and friendly exchange.

Also, be aware of your vocal qualities throughout the call. Control your rate of speech, your pitch, and your overall timbre. The average individual speaks at a pace of 130 to 150 words per minute.  Match this rate while on the phone.

Anything faster will be difficult for the customer to understand while anything slower will give the impression that you are slow and lazy.

Try timing yourself in order to ensure that the rate at which you’re speaking falls into the 130 to 150 words per minute range. Keep the pitch of your voice in mind while you’re on the phone as well.

A high pitch connotes youth and often fails to suggest an authoritative image.  Meanwhile, a low pitch can sound harsh, especially over the phone.  Find a middle ground, and always vary your inflection in order to make yourself sound natural and interested. A monotone sounds boring and unenthusiastic.

Controlling these factors and smiling will ensure a positive tone on the telephone and will greatly improve your customer service skills.

See our pages on and Conversational Skills and Charisma for more information.

2. Clear Enunciation

The ability to understand what someone is saying on the phone separates a productive conversation from one filled with tension.

Whenever you are on the telephone, speak clearly. Enunciate and use simple words and phrases. Don’t use overly complex vocabulary or jargon.

The last thing you want to do is confuse the customer on the line or make them feel inferior. Also, avoid slang and filler words. Saying things like “dude,” “yeah,” and “um” will detract from the quality of the interaction, making constructive problem solving harder to attain. If you have a tendency to use filler words such as “um” or “like.” practice taking a pause instead.

Chewing gum or eating during a conversation can also lead to mumbled speech so avoid both of these practices in order to optimize your customer service.

See our page: Effective Speaking for more on how to use your voice effectively.

3. Be Sincere

Starting with the greeting, conversations over the phone must be sincere.  Say hello and be genuine. Try to avoid scripted greetings as most sound artificial and inauthentic.

Include the company’s name, your name, and offer your assistance as soon as you answer the phone. If you’re receiving a transferred call or if you’re working on the switchboard, state the name of the department you are a part of in order to give the client the appropriate information. Doing this will ease the customer into the exchange and let them know that you are calm and ready to help.

Once you’re in the middle of the conversation, give the person on the other end of the line genuine answers. Be sure to word these in a positive manner, as you don’t want to inject any negativity into the exchange.

Avoid phrases such as “I don’t know,” “I can’t do that,” or “Just a second.” Specify how long completing a task will take, and state what you can do rather than what you cannot.

Answering a customer’s questions with sincerity and positivity will not only satisfy them by the end of the conversation but will also help calm an angry caller.

4. Use Their Name

As soon as you receive a customer’s name, use it. 

Write down the individual’s initials in order to 'monogram' the call.  This will help you remember the client’s name and will personalize the call for you. 

While you should use the customer’s name, don’t abuse it.

Include it naturally throughout the conversation.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask them for the proper pronunciation. Most customers will appreciate this gesture. Get the spelling correct, too.

Callers will value the personal touch you provide with a name.

5. Leave the Customer Satisfied

As with most things, finishing a conversation on the right note can create lasting positivity and a satisfied customer.

In order to achieve a great ending to a telephone call, make sure that the caller understands the information you passed along before you hang up. Ask the customer, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Answer any final questions he or she may have to ensure complete comprehension and satisfaction.  Also, provide any information that the customer might need in the future.  If he or she needs to call back, share optimal contact times and whom he or she should call.

Once all of the necessary information has been shared, finish the call in a friendly manner. Say, “Have a nice day” or, “It was nice talking with you”. This will let the customer know that you happily helped them and that you would be willing to aid them again in the future.

Finishing a conversation in a positive manner can transform what may have started as an angry phone call to a pleasant experience for the customer.

6. Make Life Easy for Your Customers

Despite the prevalence of the internet in the modern business environment, a business phone number is still a vital resource for small businesses. One of the best ways of marketing a business phone number and having customers remember it is by using a vanity phone number. For more information, consider using this vanity phone number generator.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

In Summary

Effective telephone communication skills result in more productive relationships that lead to better customer service and perhaps increased sales.

Whenever you’re handling clients over the phone, remain positive and do all that you can to satisfy them. Empathize with them when necessary and be personable.

Customers will certainly recognize when they’re being treated with courteousness, care, and consideration, which will translate to repeat business.

About the Author

Laura McConney is a college student, a writer for the Kova Corporation, and also a content creator with The Marketing Zen Group.

Laura loves writing about the customer experience and contact centers and has worked in centers as an Advanced Computer Consultant for 3 years. She also tinkers with technology and learns all of the pop culture that she can.