Taking messages over the phone isn’t exactly an art.
It’s more of a science, as it’s been tested and tried repeatedly since the invention of the telephone. We know the variables that lead to effective message-taking and ensure critical information or phone calls never slip between the cracks.
Whether you’re running a company and feeling frustrated with the way your receptionist takes messages for you, or you are a receptionist looking to improve your message taking skills, this post is for you.
When a person represents a company or another person over the phone, it’s important to do a good job representing the company or person receiving the call.
There are 4 basic steps to taking effective messages that inform the person who called and what they wanted, how they can be reached, and when they called. Prompt delivery of the message is critical.
Check these steps off as you take messages or ensure your receptionist follows this process to take messages for you.
4 Steps to Taking Effective Messages
Answer the phone with a smile and friendly greeting that includes your company’s name. State your name and ask how you can assist the caller.
When the caller asks for a person you are unable to connect them with at the time, ask to take a message for that person and let them know you can deliver the message as soon as possible. The caller will decide if they want to leave a message or not. Example: “He isn’t here at the moment. Can I take a message? I’ll be sure to get it to him as soon as he returns.”
Alternatively, you can offer to transfer the caller to the person’s extension and have them leave a message on their answering machine if that’s what the person prefers. Example: “She isn’t here at the moment. Would you like me to transfer you to her direct line so you can leave her a message?”
If the caller does want to leave a message, this step is critical: Write down absolutely everything they say as they’re saying it.
Phrases, words, or numbers that you feel are insignificant or not important might turn out to be very important. It’s better to have more information than the message receiver needs than to not have enough. Write down everything the caller says to ensure you’re taking a detailed, informative message.
Confirm the number or method the caller wants to be contacted at once the message is delivered.
End the call with a friendly goodbye, reiterate that you’ll deliver the message as soon as the person returns, and thank them for their call.
Give the message to the person as soon as they return or are available to receive messages. If possible, email the message to the person so they can access it as soon as they have a chance.
If you’ve been given instructions to hold messages until the person returns or finishes a task, simply hold the message until they are available or leave the message on their desk so they can easily find it when they return.
- Smiling while you’re on the phone gives the caller the impression that you’re happy and friendly, making them more comfortable on the call. Did you know the caller can literally hear a difference in your voice when you smile?
- Use your neatest handwriting. If you had to scrawl the message down quickly, just rewrite it neatly on another piece of paper.
- Write the message down as close to a “transcription” of what the caller said to ensure nothing is lost in translation.
- Deliver the message as soon as possible.