How Best to Take a Telephone Message

Telephone etiquette is a very important area of Legal Secretary work. There are ways in which to answer the telephone professionally and to take a message when needed. Taking the message incorrectly, especially when working as a Legal Secretary, as a PA or in other legal capacities at an office, can lead to problematic situations for the caller’s case or even for their overall faith in the firm’s competence.

One Rule to Always Remember

The person who answers the phone acts as the representative of the company. Whenever you pick up a call, whether you answer the phone often and take messages or you answer it just once in a while, you are the representative. You are the one who is making an impression on the person at the other end of the phone.

Answering the Phone Appropriately

Answering the phone is just as important as taking down the message. Always provide your name and the name of the company; then ask how you may help the person. This helps the individual realise they have the right company, and it gives them a name to put to the voice of the company’s representative (you). And by asking how you can help them you have opened the door to get them to tell you their name and what they require.

Taking the Message

It would be great if you could always transfer a phone call immediately to the person the caller is asking for, but as we all know, this is not always possible. For the instances in which you need to take a message, make sure you have your message pad or a piece of paper handy.

Let the caller know that the person they requested is unavailable but you can take a message to pass on to them.

The best way to start is to jot down the caller’s name and confirm the spelling. It is important that this is accurate.

Next, ask for the caller’s phone number, and repeat the phone number to them. This gives reassurance to the person on the other end that you have noted everything accurately.

Once you have the name and phone number, ask what information the caller would like you to pass on to the person they are trying to contact. Since you may work in a legal office, where privacy is vital, this gives the caller the ability to explain whether they wish to discuss a case, ask a question or just ask the person they are trying to reach to call them back.

If the caller wishes to leave more information in the message, ensure that you take it down accurately. As always, confirm that you have noted everything correctly in the message.

Now that you have the message, thank the caller, explain that you will pass the message on to the appropriate person as soon as possible and give the caller a time frame for when they may hear back.

The final stage is to give the message to the appropriate person and to let that person know the caller is expecting to hear from them. 

Always remember to remain polite, patient and professional when taking calls. In the April 2014 edition of our Legal Secretary Journal, an article was published called ‘Do you have a good telephone manner?’ If you have not read that article, take a look in order to acquire the best telephone skills: