While text messages, social media platforms and email have expanded the ways we communicate, many businesses still rely on the ubiquitous phone call. Law firms, real estate offices and other small businesses communicate with customers primarily via phone calls.

Whether you're a veteran virtual receptionist or just starting out in your career, there are a few etiquette tips that always apply, no matter who's on the other end of the line. These strategies can help ensure you make a professional and pleasant impression when speaking to customers or potential clients.

1. Be Prompt

After all, this is the reason why the business you're working for hired you: to avoid calls going to voicemail and losing potential customers in the process. Try to pick up the phone promptly when it rings, and avoid long wait times.

2. Your Tone Matters

Be warm, enthusiastic and professional. A customer calling a service-oriented business, such as an HVAC company, plumber or real estate office, wants to feel taken care of, and sometimes your voice is the only impression of the company that the caller has, so your overall attitude matters a lot, both in terms of the customer's satisfaction and the overall success of the business.

3. Perfect Your Greeting

While each organization will have a preferred way for you to answer incoming calls, in general, you should welcome callers courteously and identify yourself and the organization you're representing immediately. Here's a good example: “Good morning, Sally's Real Estate Office. Emma speaking. How may I help you?”

Definitely adjust your greeting as appropriate for the business or as the client instructs, and keep it the same each time you answer for consistency and professionalism.

4. Make Yourself Heard

Remember to enunciate clearly, keep your volume moderate (not too loud, not too quiet), and speak slowly and clearly when answering so that callers can understand you easily. And if you're speaking to a bilingual caller, the same rules apply. Callers really like feeling understood, and since Easybee offers bilingual answering services, Spanish-speaking callers can feel taken care of.

5. Phone Messages

When relaying phone messages, be sure to get as much accurate information as possible from the caller. If you can't understand how to pronounce or spell their name, ask the caller to spell it, and be sure the message reaches its intended recipient.

6. Avoid Using Speakerphone

Unless it's absolutely necessary, you should avoid using speakerphone whenever possible because it gives the caller the impression that you're not fully concentrating on their call. The only time you might need to is if another person needs to be listening in at the same time, but those instances are rare with virtual receptionists.

When you put these tips into practice, it can help ensure you're providing the best possible virtual receptionist services to the business you work with and help them stay profitable and successful.