Professional telephone etiquette – Nghi thức chuyên nghiệp qua điện thoại

Ghi chú: Người viết soạn tài liệu này để đào tạo kỹ năng cho nhân viên văn phòng của một công ty quốc tế. Nội dung liên quan đến việc dùng điện thoại trong giao tiếp nghề nghiệp. Tuy tài liệu bằng tiếng Anh nhưng người có nhiệm vụ trả lời và gọi điện thoại đều có thể hiểu được bài này.

Phone etiquette ARemember: when you use your company phone for business purposes, you are your company ambassador!

Cần nhớ: khi dùng điện thoại của công ty bạn để giao tiếp trong phạm vi nghề nghiệp, thì bạn là đại sứ của công ty bạn!

Answering a business call

Also remember: you may be the first and only contact a person may have with your company, and that first impression will stay with the caller long after the call is completed. Observe telephone etiquette.

Be polite, but brief as people are often busy, so get rid of unnecessary words.

Answer promptly (before the third ring if possible).

Before picking up the receiver, discontinue any other conversation or activity such as eating, chewing gum, typing, etc. that can be heard by the calling party.

Speak clearly and distinctly in a pleasant tone of voice.

Always identify yourself and the company first, and properly. Note that:

  • simply answering “yes” is a curt and inappropriate response;
  • it is impolite to ask the caller’s name first; and
  • it is even more impolite to ask “Who calls?” or “Who’s that?” [It happened!

Phone etiquette BExample of proper answer in English: “Good Morning (or Afternoon)” followed by your company name (use only the main name, “Limited” or “Incorporated” or “Công ty Một Thành viên” is unnecessary), followed by This is [your name] speaking. May I help you?

Ví dụ về cách trả lời bằng tiếng Việt: “Xin chào. Đây là [công ty, tên chính, để tránh mất thời giờ người gọi, không cần thiết nói “Trách nhiệm Hữu hạn” hoặc“Công ty Một Thành viên], tôi tên [tên người trả lời]”.

If your office has several departments, it may be necessary to introduce also your department, e.g.,
Good morning! This is Thu-Thảo speaking, of ABC International, Financial Department.

Of course, if you receive calls from inside the company, it is not necessary to mention your company and department; just mention your name with a bit more informal:
Hello, Thu-Thảo speaking [Nên xưng cả tên và chữ lót để tránh trùng tên, và để người gọi không phải hỏi “Thảo nào?”]
Chào, Thu-Thảo đây ạ. [“ạ” để tỏ phép lịch sự, tránh cách nói cộc lốc]

If you know well the caller outside the company, you may also sound a bit informal, e.g.,
Hello, Thu-Thảo here, how are you?
Hi, this is Joe. Long time no see!
Xin chào. Em Thu-Thảo đây.

Also, if you know the caller, it is a good practice to say the caller’s name so that they do not have to introduce themselves, e.g.,
Hello, Joe. It’s Mike speaking.
Chào anh Hùng, em Hà ở Công ty ABC đây ạ

For a stranger, you should wait for the caller to introduce themselves. If introduction is not forthcoming and the caller starts asking about the company or company personnel, wait until they stop, then ask:
May I ask who is calling, please?
Xin ông/anh/chị vui lòng cho biết tên ạ

Depending on the conversation, you may or may not ask about the caller’s company. But if the caller starts inquiring something related to your company, you should ask first:
Can you tell me your company or agency, so that I will inform my boss?
Xin ông/anh/chị vui lòng cho biết tên cơ quan, để em báo lại

If the caller still refuses mentioning their company or agency, do not press further, but mention this fact when you take a message.

When the caller asks:
“May I speak to Mr. _____ , please?”
Your response should be one of the following:
One moment please, I will get him for you
Please hold the line, I’ll transfer your call
Xin giữ máy, để tôi chuyển cuộc gọi

If the person asked is not available, a short answer “no” is considered to be impolite. Give a more tactful response. E.g.,
He is not in the office at the moment
He has stepped out of his office
He may be in within an hour
She is out of the office for the day
She is unavailable, I’m afraid to the end of the day

DO NOT provide personal matters. For example, DO NOT SAY like:
He is in the toilet
She has taken a sick leave
He has gone to see his doctor

Even when you are pressed for details like “What happened to him?”, just politely repeat the answer, like:
He is unavailable right now, sir
She is out for the day, ma’am

After answering as above, do not forget to offer your service or help in another way, e.g.,
May I take a message?
Would you like to leave a message?
Can someone else help you?

If the caller has reached the wrong department, be courteous. Sometimes they have been transferred all over with a simple question. If possible, attempt to find out where they should call/to whom they should speak. They will greatly appreciate it.

Before placing a caller on hold (like when you want to check a certain information), ask their permission first and thank them. However,

It is better to return a call than to keep someone on hold too long. If the phone rings back to you, you’ve kept them on hold too long.

Use hold button when leaving the line so that the caller does not accidentally hear conversations being held nearby.

When transferring a call, be sure to explain to the caller that you are doing so and where you are transferring them.

Making a call

When you make a business call, identify yourself and your company as soon as the other person finishes their greeting and before asking for the person want to talk to.
Good morning, this is [your name] of [your office]
Good afternoon, Mr. Brown, I am Thu-Thủy from ABC International

If you do not know the listener’s name:
Good morning, Sir, I am Thu-Thủy calling from ABC International

If you know the listener personally who is not senior:
Hello. This is Bob Jones from Acme. [Người nước ngoài thường xưng cả họ và tên; bạn cũng nên làm thế]
Xin chào. Tôi là [tên bạn], [văn phòng bạn]

Only then, can you ask for the person you want to talk to. Give more information, including family names, companies and departments, e.g.,
I’d like to speak to Suzanne Brown in the Accounting Department
Xin chị nối máy với Thảo-Trang ở Phòng Chăm sóc Khách hàng
May I talk to James Watson, please?

Only when your company and their company know each other well, can you say in a friendly tone:
Is James Watson in?
Xin vui lòng nối máy
[Ông/Anh/Chị tên] cho tôi

In Vietnam: if there is no urgent matter, avoid calling Government agencies on Monday mornings when they often hold a weekly meeting, and 11:30 hours to 13:30 hours every day when many people tend to take extra time for lunch and siesta.

Summary of key rules

Presenting a professional image, both in person and on the telephone, is very important in the Office Skills profession. Taking care of your clients over the telephone and making them feel well informed and appreciated is essential. Whether you are the front office receptionist or an executive secretary, the following key rules should always be followed.

Business first. Do not make it a habit of receiving or making personal calls at work.

Do not eat or drink while you are on telephone duty. Only eat or drink during your coffee break or lunch break.

Use your normal tone of voice when answering a call. If you have a tendency to speak loud or shout, avoid doing so on the telephone.

Speak clearly. A picture paints a thousand words but the caller on the other end of the phone can only hear you. They cannot see your face or body language. Therefore, taking the time to speak clearly, slowly and in a cheerful, professional voice is very important.

Address the caller properly by his or her title, e.g.
Good morning Mr. Brown / Good afternoon Ms. Sanders

Never address an unfamiliar caller by his/her given name. Address the caller by his/her title and given name if he/she accepts it, e.g.:
Yes, Mr Jack, hold a moment, please
Yes, Ms Elizabeth, please wait

If you know only the caller’s given name, say, e.g.,
Good morning, Sir
Good afternoon, Ma’am

Phone etiquette DMaintain formality. Even when you know well the caller or the call receiver at a government agency, or a funding agency…, you still need to maintain formality over the phone. Pleasantries or casual language may be permitted when you meet them, but they are not appropriate over the phone.

Be very polite to senior persons. Do not say “Yes” or “No” only to senior persons. Try:
Yes, sir / No, ma’am
As an example, even when you know your Team Leader’s wife well, over the phone you still have to maintain formal language (e.g., by answering “Yes, ma’am”) until the lady wants to engage in informal conversation. Then you can relax, but politeness is still required.

Do not use slang words or poor language. Respond clearly with “yes” or “no” when speaking. Never use swear words even to your friend, because telephone conversation in the office is not a private matter.

Maintain courtesy.
– Learn how to handle several callers simultaneously with ease and grace
– Never interrupt the person while they are talking to you
– Never engage in an argument with a caller

Listen to the caller and what they have to say. The ability to listen is a problem in general but it is very important to listen to what the caller has to say. Verify that you have heard and transcribed the message accurately. It is a good practice to reread the message you have written down for the caller to check.

Be patient and helpful. If a caller is irate or upset, listen to what they have to say and then refer them to the appropriate resource. Never snap back or act rude to the caller.

Observe confidentiality.

  • Do not give confidential information except when necessary, e.g., giving a staff’s mobile number to a PMU staff is accepted.
  • Do not reveal to the caller private facts, as exemplified in Exhibit 3, except when you have to, like when a boss enquires about a staff!
  • Again, be aware of confidential information when leaving messages. Also, be aware of people around you while talking on the phone. Be discreet! Someone next to you might overhear confidential information that could negatively affect your company.

Always ask if you can put the caller on hold. If you are responsible for answering multiple calls at once, always ask the caller politely if you may put them on hold. Remember that the caller could have already waited several minutes before getting connected to you and may not take lightly to being put on hold. Never leave the person on hold for more than a few seconds or they may become upset and hang up.

Always focus on the call. Try not to get distracted by people around you. If someone tries to interrupt you while you are on a call, politely remind them that you are on a client’s call and that you will be with them as soon as you are finished.

Avoid leaving long winded messages. Remember, someone has to listen to your message, write it down and then act upon it. Your message may be just one of many messages that need to be handled. It is often a good habit to write down or type out your message in advance. Keep it brief and to the point.

Thank if necessary: When you receive a call that is helpful in a certain way, do not forget to say, e.g.,:
Thank you for calling
Thank you for your information; I appreciate it

Taking a phone message

Write it down on a piece of paper – may be on recycled paper but not on an envelope, or the edge of another message.

Include the caller’s name, company, telephone number (with area code if required), and a brief message.

Note the time the call came in.

If you are not sure, ask for correct spellings of person’s name, company’s name…

It is always a good habit to repeat the information back to the caller when you are taking a message.

Write your initials so the recipient knows who to ask for clarifications, if they’re needed.

Leave the message somewhere that it can be seen easily on the recipient’s desk.

Notify the recipient ASAP that the message came in, even if it’s not urgent.

Using mobile phones

The above principles also apply to mobile (cell) phones.

Also, when calling a mobile phone, assume that the person answering the phone is the person you’re seeking (the boss may answer for his staff!). But don’t assume that their mobile phone shows your name. Confirm that the person you expected answered the phone and identify yourself. For example, say,
Hi, Suzanne? This is Bob.

If you’re calling someone’s cell phone in a business capacity, include the same information you would when calling an office, but don’t ask to speak to the person, since most people answer their cell phones themselves. For example, you can say,
Hello. This is Bob Jones from Acme. Is that Suzanne Brown?

Sending a mobile phone message

Just one reminder: do not forget to put your name at the end of your message. Not everyone store your mobile phone number, so when they get your message, without your name they have no idea who sends the message.

At the end of your message, add something like:
Thu-Thuy ABC

[Use middle and given names if possible, as a sole given name may cause confusion: there are several persons named Thuy in this case.]

Ending a phone conversation

PHẢI TRÁNH: thình lình chấm dứt cuộc hội thoại mà không có lời nào báo cho bên kia biết trước, khiến cho bên kia hụt hẫng khi còn có điều muốn nói!

Phone etiquette CEnding a phone conversation also requires etiquette, like when you receive the call and are engaged in conversation.

Make sure that before you end a phone conversation, the person at the other end knows your intention, e.g.,
Còn việc gì nữa không? Ta dừng ở đây nhé?

If you receive an instruction or a message, you may ask like:
Is that all?
Anh còn dặn gì nữa không ạ?

Then, end the conversation with, e.g.,
Bye bye. Have a good day
Bye. Have a nice week-end
Chào nhé!

If you promise to return the call, do not forget it.

Photographing mobile message

mobile messageSome mobile messages need to be preserved outside of the phone for future reference, sending e-mails… Taking a photograph of text messages on mobile phones is an effective way to save messages. A digital camera, a cellular phone, and a well-lit work space are all that are necessary to take a picture of text messages.

Things you’ll need

  • Cellular phone
  • Digital camera
  1. Turn the mobile phone on, and select the text message you want to photograph.
  2. Lay the phone on a flat surface, in a well-lit space in an area free from glare. For example, set the phone near a lamp, but not directly under it so as to avoid the light reflection.
  3. Adjust the digital camera settings in macro picture mode. Hold the camera six to ten inches above the cellular phone screen.
  4. Zoom the camera lens so that the text is in focus, then shoot a picture of the screen.

For Iphone

For those who are using Iphone, to take pictures of what your mobile is showing: hold the home button and then the on/off button (on the right top of the Iphone) together.

Biên soạn: Diệp Minh Tâm

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