Top 7 telephone tips for calling a company’s main line

You’re calling a general line and don’t know who will pick up. Here’s a list of my top 7 telephone tips resulting in better communication and customer service:


  1. Identify yourself. Who are you and what is your affiliation? It’s very hard to field an inquiry without someone knowing who you are. Most people forget this.
  2. Speak clearly. Especially when calling from a mobile phone and/or outside, it can really be hard to understand you unless you speak slowly and enunciate.
  3. Do not speak in a run-on for 2 minutes before pausing. You might have the wrong number, be talking with the wrong person, and/or information might be lost or confused. You are just wasting your breath. Instead, start with the thematic nature of your question, and ask who best for you to speak with.
  4. Do your background research. If the company you’re calling has a website, look there first for your question. If you’re calling to follow up on previous engagement with that company or a staff member there, have that information in front of you. This sets a tone for a more productive conversation.
  5. Listen well. If the person who picks up tells you their name, company information, reference number, or anything else, note it. In the event that you get disconnected and need to call back, you have information to resume; in the event that your question isn’t answered and you speak with someone else, you have reference materials; if they are helpful, you’ve already begun recording information.
  6. Don’t assume the person who picks up is dumb; usually, it’s a person who knows more than you might think whether their primary job is receptionist or they’re a program employee manning the phones that hour. If they ask for information, don’t assume what they do or don’t know; tell them they information they ask for. They will inquire further or redirect if it’s outside their scope.
  7. Always, always be nice. Say thank you. Keep the tone of your voice courteous and not pushy. I promise that you will receive better assistance.

Simple! Now go make phone calls!

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