The Importance of Phone Etiquette

[Updated 8/18/17]


It is important to make callers feel appreciated as well as well-informed.

Besides the basics of speaking clearly, using a pleasant tone of voice, keeping slang out of your vocabulary, and keeping food out of your mouth while talking, there are two other items which are equally, if not more, important.


One of the biggest mistakes that people make when answering the phone is not letting someone make their initial inquiry. Even if you are helping someone at the desk you should still allow the person on the phone to ask their question. Sometimes it is a simple question like “how late are you open?” which can be answered quickly. If they do have a more involved question you can put them on hold or transfer them to someone else.

If you answer the phone and immediately put the person on hold they may think that they are not a priority, even if you are trying your best to quickly get back with them. They do not see what is going on in the office so it is important to let them ask their question first.


On the other hand, you may have someone who calls and, for whatever reason, won’t get off the line. This type of caller can eat up your receptionist’s time and keep other callers on hold. You do not want to be rude to the caller or make them feel they are not important, but you do need to clear up lines so other people can be assisted.

The best way to handle a call like this is for you to ask “Is there anything else I can help you with?” You want your tone of voice to be pleasant and helpful. If the caller does not have any more questions but instead begins talking about their personal life, it is okay to engage with them briefly, but when there is a pause in the conversation politely say that you have another call waiting or someone just walked in.


You want your patients to know that you are there to help them and answer their questions. Proper phone etiquette may seem like a small thing, but if it is not followed, you can hurt relationships with potential or current patients.

Author: Kathy Jiamboi

Owner of Creativedge Marketing, where growth-oriented dentists find dental practice marketing strategies and advice to take their practice to a new and higher level.

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