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How to Answer the Phone: A Process Server's Guide to Phone Etiquette

A missed call is a missed opportunity. And when you do answer the phone, customers will often decide whether or not to hire you based on a phone call that lasts only a couple minutes. Since a good first impression is crucial, here are ten quick tips that will help you answer your phone the right way.


Answer the phone

This might seem obvious but it’s important because most customers won’t leave a voicemail or call back if you don’t pick up the phone. So answer quickly, at least by the third ring. Answering promptly shows potential clients that you respect their time.

Be professional

The first thing you say should be the name of your business. This way the customer knows they called the right place. You then want to state your name and “How can I help?” Right away, the caller knows who you are and that you are ready to help them.

Don't multitask

If you’re driving, pull over. If you’re working on a project, put it on pause. Don’t eat, or drink, or address other people in your office. The person on the other end should have your complete attention. Have a notepad handy too so you can write down important information. This way you can also write down their name and use it throughout the conversation.

Smile and be polite

It might sound strange, but potential clients can hear the smile in your voice and they are more likely to respond well to a pleasant conversation. Don’t waste their (or your) time with long answers or irrelevant stories. Keep your answers to the point and, if you need to call back, set a specific time.

Speak slowly and clearly

Don’t use too much process server jargon that they may not understand. Enunciate your words, avoid using slang, and train yourself to not use filler words like “um” or “like”. Speaking like this portrays confidence and intelligence. Also, give the other person a chance to ask questions and avoid interrupting them as much as possible.

Take notes

From the moment you answer the phone, you should be taking notes on the call.  It’s important to write down the person’s name, what they are calling about, and the details of what papers they need served. These can be recorded in a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) or a process serving software that has CRM features. Taking notes on these conversations can help make a connection and build trust the next time you speak with the client.

Don’t put people on hold

If you need to ask someone else a question or research an answer, offer to call back and then set up a specific time when returning to the conversation.

Forward your missed calls

It’s important to have your office calls forwarded to your cell phone, a receptionist, or an answering service when you aren't in. This way you aren’t missing out on any potential clients and can be reached if there is an emergency or sudden change.

Set up a professional voicemail system

With process service, you are often out of the office and covering ground on other jobs. There'll be times when you just can't get to every call, therefore you should invest in a professional voicemail. 

Return missed calls promptly

If you do miss a call and have voicemails, listen to them and take notes so that you can have that information when you call back.

Plan your answers

If you don’t know something, rather than saying “I don’t know,” say “Let me find out and get back to you.” Or if you are frequently asked questions, have a friendly and helpful response prepared.

Ask where they got your number

Don’t be afraid to say, “We work on referrals, can I ask who referred you to us?” Ask for clarification if they simply answer “the internet.” That way, you will know where your calls are coming from and you can improve your marketing going forward. Tracking your calls can be even easier with using a tracking phone number from CallRail or Grasshopper, which also offer other helpful features. Utilize your phone conversations to help understand your Marketing Effectiveness.

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