Professional Telephone Courtesy Guide

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1 Professional Telephone Courtesy Guide

2 Table of Contents Who are our Customers?... 2 Telephone Courtesy... 3 Answering the Telephone... 5 Placing a Caller on Hold... 6 Keeping Your Staff Well Informed... 6 Referring Callers... 7 Taking Messages... 8 Responding to an Irate Caller Using Voic Personal Calls Conference Calls... 13

3 Page 2 Every Caller - A Valued Customer Please use this Telephone Courtesy Guide as a resource for providing quality telephone service to our parents, students, staff, and the general public. By following the suggestions in this guide, you will contribute to excellence in your school or office as you represent the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). When answering the telephone please remember these three things: * Treat the customer with respect and courtesy. * Strive to understand and address the purpose of the customer s call. * Leave the customer with a positive image of your school or office and LAUSD. Remember, to callers, YOU are the Los Angeles Unified School District! * Parents * Students * Taxpayers * Other LAUSD employees * Outside agencies * Vendors Who are our customers? Often people think of customers only as patrons who are paying for a service. In reality, our customer is anyone who relies on us for service. Therefore, our customer base covers a diverse range of people, including our students, teachers, administrators, and our own colleagues and co-workers.

4 Page 3 Telephone Courtesy First impressions are powerful; there is no second chance. Callers will form a positive or negative impression of you and your school or office in less than 10 seconds! Treat the caller with the same courtesy and respect with which you wish to be treated! By your voice By your tone By your pitch When you are helpful When you are courteous Your attitude is communicated: When you give the caller 100% of you attention When you use positive, proactive communication! Did you know it takes 11 positive interactions just to counteract 1 negative interaction with an organization?

5 Page 4 Telephone Courtesy Speak clearly and courteously. Smile as you re speaking to the caller. (This works! The caller will hear your smile through the conversation). Speak at a natural pace (not too fast or too slow). Use proper grammar and avoid slang and endearing terms such as honey, or sweetie. Avoid chewing gum or eating while speaking on the telephone. Provide training to substitutes, students, and new employees if you assign them to answer your telephones. If a caller asks a question, take the time to give him or her a clear answer or response. The more knowledge you have, the better you are able to assist callers and not have to transfer them unnecessarily.

6 Page 5 Answering the Telephone Promptness Counts If possible, telephones should be answered by the third ring. Greeting Name of School or Department Your Name Be sure to answer the telephone with a greeting or salutation such as good morning, or good afternoon. Keep it simple! The name of your office should be descriptive, yet brief. Offer your name so the caller may reach you if disconnected or if the caller needs additional information. Offer Assistance Offer a greeting, your name and your assistance. Example: Good morning this is John speaking. How may I help you? Dedicated/Private Telephone Lines Ending the Call If you provided information in response to a request, make certain the caller is satisfied with the information you provided. You can confirm that the caller is satisfied by asking Did I answer your question? End the call on a positive note, such as My pleasure, or Have a great day.

7 Page 6 Placing a Caller on Hold If you need to place a caller on hold, be sure to first ask if he or she minds holding. For example, you may ask, could you please hold for a moment? Allow the caller to answer before you push the hold button. When placing a call on hold for someone else, give the caller the option of waiting or leaving a message. If you are asked to screen calls for someone else, use the phrase May I say who s calling? Best Practices for Supervisors and Administrators Keep your staff well informed. Each school and office should develop a procedure to ensure that telephone staff is properly informed when other staff members are unavailable to receive calls. It is important that telephone staff be able to provide appropriate information. Communication with the telephone staff needs to be ongoing. Telephone staff should be informed when you are expecting an important call, cannot take calls, or will be in meetings. Specific whereabouts and return times of staff should be clearly communicated to those assigned to answer the telephones so they are equipped with enough information to offer excellent customer service.

8 Page 7 Referring a Caller to a Different Location If a caller has reached the wrong office, make every effort to direct the caller to the appropriate location. When referring the caller to another school or office: -Provide the caller with the full telephone number (area code included). -If possible, offer to transfer the call. -Remain on the line during the transfer so that you can inform the other party of the needs of your caller. When the caller is requesting information that you can readily obtain from another office or person, make every effort to do so. Save the caller the time and frustration of making several calls. The caller will long remember and appreciate the outstanding act of customer service. Use the LAUSD Guide to Schools and Offices or Microsoft Outlook to quickly find a telephone number and/or location.

9 Page 8 Taking Messages If a caller is trying to reach an employee who is unavailable, offer the caller one of these three options: - To hold. - To leave a message. - To speak with someone else who can assist. Whenever possible, give the caller complete information. If the person being called will be absent for an extended period of time, it may be best to refer the caller to someone else. For example: Maria is at a meeting this afternoon and will return to the office in the morning. May I take a message for you? -or- Jay is on vacation and will return to the office on the 23 rd. May I transfer you to someone else who may assist you? Please refrain from using the following statements when an employee is unavailable: Is in the restroom Out to lunch Went home early At the doctor s office Out for a smoke On break Has not come in yet Instead, use a more professional phrase such as is away from her desk, away from the office at this time.

10 Page 9 Taking Messages, cont. Some administrators prefer their messages ed to them. Discuss this option with your supervisor or administrator before using it. If you use a message pad, we recommend one with the capacity to make a duplicate copy. All messages should include the following information: - The name of the message recipient (first and last name). - The name of the caller or visitor (first and last name). - Location or place of business of the caller or visitor. - The date. - The time. - The actual message. Other Tips: Indicate any other specifics (e.g. call back, returning your call, was as in to see you, will call again, urgent please call immediately, etc.) Print or write legibly. Verify the spelling of the caller s first and last names and the telephone number to ensure accuracy. If the person leaves more than one telephone number, be sure to write on the message the times when the person can be reached at those numbers. If taking a second message, take the telephone number again and label the message #2.

11 Page 10 Responding to an Irate Caller Allow the caller time to fully explain the reason they are calling and why they are upset. If the caller is using profanity or verbally attacking or threatening you, be calm but firm and explain that you want to assist with the problem, but they must refrain from using profanity. Restate to the caller your understanding of the caller s concerns in your own words to ensure you understand why they are upset. For example, after the caller has expressed his or her position, you might say, I understand that this is very upsetting. What I hear you saying is. Is that accurate? Once the caller says yes or agrees that you understand the problem, offer assistance (either by resolving the concern or connecting the caller to someone who can resolve their concern). If practical, stay on the line with the caller until you are sure the concern is being addressed by someone who can resolve it. If you must refer the caller to someone else, provide the person receiving the call with the background information you received from the caller.

12 Page 11 Responding to an Irate Caller, cont. When responding to a problem or complaint, remember these suggestions: 1.) Acknowledge the caller s concern. 2.) Assess the situation by listening carefully, asking clarifying questions and taking notes. 3.) Affirm your understanding of the problem by paraphrasing or restating what the caller has told you. This also helps to build a positive connection with the caller. 4.) Provide possible solutions or options to the caller. Listen to the caller s feedback. 5.) Agree on a plan of action (do not agree to do something or promise something you cannot deliver). 6.) Be sure to follow up as soon as possible.

13 Page 12 Using Voic Setting Up Your Voice Mail Identify yourself and your school or office. Keep it short and simple. When recording your message, speak clearly and slowly. For example Hello, you have reached (your name) with (your school or office). I am not available at this time. At the sound of the tone, please leave your name and number. For immediate assistance, you may call (name) at (number). Check messages frequently and return calls promptly. When using voic with several options, make sure that all the options you provide are valid. Always give the caller the option to speak to a live person. Leaving a Voice Mail Message When leaving your recorded message, speak clearly and slowly. Identify yourself and your school or office. State what the call is regarding. Always leave your telephone number and the time when you can be reached. For example: This is (your name) from (your school or office). Please call me at (your number) regarding (your concern). I can be reached (indicate when by leaving best time to reach you ).

14 Page 13 Types of Calls Personal Calls Pay telephones are available at schools and offices for use by students and employees for personal calls. See Information Technology Division Bulletin No. K-3 (Revised), * Use of District Telephones for Personal Calls, dated December 21, *OUTDATED* Board Rules 1266 and 1471 also prohibit the use of District telephones for personal use. Personal use is defined as use for purposes other than performance of the assigned duties of the employee. Conference Calls If you are arranging a conference call (connecting three or more parties): - Prior to initiating a conference call, have each party s telephone number in front of you. - Inform the first person to hold the line while you add another person. - Advise the third person that you are adding him or her to the conversation before you do so. Remember, you represent the Los Angeles Unified School District at all times!

15 For additional information, contact us at or visit us at The Personnel Commission s Workforce Management Classified Training Branch

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