Your call is important to us

telephone courtesy and customer service

Telephone Courtesy & Customer Service

Think of a customer service course you are being forced to attend. This is that workbook. It reminds me of something that would be mandated so someone can check off a box on a form. Of course one should use courtesy answering customer calls. They should also be mindful of word choice. However, some seriously big gaps exist in this training:

  • Customer emergency – someone on the line in trouble (health or whatever)
  • Angry customers – How do you handle those swearing and yelling?
  • Customer threats – this can run the gamut from mild intimidation up to a bomb threat

I have had a whole lot of time in front of customers since I started working as a teen. I remember being yelled at by bosses that I didn’t handle an angry customer properly. (I will also point out that the supervisor didn’t know what the proper procedure was.)

The voice self-assessment is quite a piece of work. I think my voice is pleasant sounding, at least to me.  I think we have some control over our voices, but the so called “desirable traits” or the “undesirable traits” are rather subjective. I think many of these traits are  also a way to snub any kind of accent, be that domestic or foreign.

Aside from this being a pretty dull book, it is also outdated. I have yet to call a business number without being routed through a phone menu. Phone contact with customers is changing to online chat formats, web forms, emails, etc. So this particular book is probably not going to address issues most needed in customer service type roles.

Remember, your call is important to us.


voice self-assessment

telephone techniques

customer perception



  1. I have just one tip for businesses. PLEASE don’t ask your customer service reps to answer with, “How can I provide you with excellent service today?” or some other unnatural greeting. Let them be human beings.

    1. I have a second: don’t force staff to read some PR- or ad-copy instead of “good bye”. One firm I use always ends calls with “thank you for being the best part of [company name]”, which is silly because I’m not a part of the company at all.

      1. I hate that, too! One local company (very local–it’s literally the owner answering the phone every single time) always ends calls with “thank you for being our customer.” Which really is nice, honestly, but it feels so awkward. It makes me feel like I should say “you’re welcome” in return, which just seems silly.

        It’s like how the cashiers/baggers at one of our local grocery stores always tells me, “thank you for bringing your reusable bags!” I feel rude saying nothing, but stupid saying “you’re welcome,” as if I think I’m doing them a big favor.

        1. I hope that there is some principle in PR, that the better practitioners follow, of “do not force non-PR people to sound not normal”.

    2. In the late 90’s I worked at a now-defunct video store chain at the mall, and had to answer the phone with ridiculousness like:

      “THANK you for calling Suncoast Motion Picture Company at Chesterfield Mall, where you can pre-order your copy of ‘Titanic’ TODAY with a five dollar deposit, AND where you can NOW purchase the re-mastered edition of Steven Spielberg’s CLASSIC film, ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’, with special BONUS footage and Making-Of documentary, on letterboxed VHS, laser disc, or dvd! THIS is Molly. How CAN I help you?”

      No, seriously, that was how we had to answer the phone. Every. Single. Time. The funniest part is that I’ve got a very smooth phone voice. When I was young, Mom worked Saturdays so we spent them at my grandmother’s work, a family owned (not our family) store. They put us to work answering the phone, and there was no screwing around allowed. We quickly learned how to sound professional, so from the age of five I’ve sounded like Ms. Movie Phone.

      You can just imagine trying to call the video store and getting hit with that nonsense in a smooth voice, right? There was always just silence after I finished, then a timid little voice would ask, “…um, hello? Is this a person?” To which I generally couldn’t resist replying, “Why, YES, it IS, and THANK you so much for asking!” It always got a laugh, and some sympathy for stupid corporate dictates, lol.

      For a brief period we had a greeting with four or five movie mentions in it, and I was the only employee who could remember it and get all the way through it before the poor customer starting cussing or hung up. During one crazy busy Saturday shift there was an odd quiet moment even though the store was full of customers, so everybody heard me answer the phone and deliver that ludicrous speech. When I finished the whole store broke out in applause. One of my best work moments of any job, lol.

  2. HaH! I was on hold twice, for 30+ minutes, to my old power company, before I got kickt to their emergency response office this afternoon! That and their recording loop was defective and would preempt itself.

    Nothing to do with the book, but an appropriate selection for me today (;

  3. I worked customer service for fifteen years. I never did voice exercises and never needed to. I smiled before answering the phone and still do when I remember to do so.

  4. You can’t tell me that people didn’t swear a customer service back in 1987. I might have sworn a customer service once or twice back then and I’m sure people grumpier than me or with bigger problems did.

    With so much customer service online and/or overseas nowadays, this book is useless unless you work for a very small company — and even those have websites or Facebook pages.

    (And if my call is so important to you, why am I on hold for 45 minutes?! Don’t make me go all karen on you when I get to the person who only knows how to follow the dumb script, same as the chatbot.)

    1. The “your call is [very] important to us” and similar messages are too superficial sounding I agree. Something like “our staff are attending to other phone calls, there are X staff on duty now and there are Y persons who called before you” so you have an idea of how much of a wait you have left. Now alot of switchboards let you request a callback anytime during the wait, which is a net gain I think.

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