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Telephone Best Practices

Management Best Practices

  • Require that all new staff take telephone training (either the district’s and/or your location’s customized training) before they start working the telephone or front lines.
  • Develop a printed and/or online Service Excellence resource for employees to keep within reach. It should include:
    • Departmental telephone numbers
    • Answers to frequently asked questions
    • Web site short cuts
  • Provide music/messages/announcements about new programs while the caller is on hold. Students sometimes think they have been disconnected when all they hear is silence. Then they hang up.


Staff Best Practices

The telephone is generally the first line of contact with DCCCD for the caller and is of equal importance to those who are on campus. Make the customer glad they called the district.

  • Always be respectful and professional.
  • Strive to answer telephones within three rings, less if possible.
  • Answer by identifying your department and giving your name. If an outside call (two rings), identify campus first and give department and your name.
  • Own the call! Be responsible for answering questions or addressing issues when possible before transferring to another department. 
  • When addressing people, call them by name. It makes a better connection and shows you are personally interested in their call.
  • Before you transfer a call, give the caller the number you are transferring to in case the call is lost. Better yet, ask the caller for his/her number so that you can call him/her if the call is lost.
  • When a specific department or person is requested, transfer directly to them or their department and not a menu number. Identify to caller where or whom you are transferring them to for further help.
  • Never blind transfer! Always make a “warm” transfer by announcing the call to the person you are transferring to and briefing the person who answers about what the caller needs.
  • If you are transferring a call within your department and the person you are transferring the call to is unavailable, give the caller the option of being put into the person’s voice mail or leaving a message with you. Say that the person is out of the office; do not explain where the person is or why the person is not in the office.
  • If you are transferring a call outside of your department and the person you are transferring the call to is unavailable, give the caller the options of being put into voice mail or having you send a GroupWise e-mail. 
  • Always keep your personal voice mail message updated:
    • Put an alternate message on your voice mail when away from campus for a day or longer.
    • Let caller know if you will be checking and returning calls in this message.
  • When you are handling a difficult call, listen empathetically and don’t take anything personally. A good listener who asks clarifying questions and shows true understanding and empathy for the caller’s dilemma usually diffuses the caller’s frustration. Get the caller’s name and contact information. Give the caller your name and inside number to enable them to contact you if they were not given the information or help they needed. This gives the caller a feeling of importance and general acceptance.
  • Always be courteous, helpful and kind. Your tone of voice displays much about you and DCCCD.
  • Remember, fellow employees are customers too!


Voice mail Messages Best Practices

  • Identify your department and give your name.
  • Listen to and empty your voice mail box several times a day.
  • Let callers know when they can expect to receive a return call.
  • When you’ll be out for a day or more, put a message on your voice mail alerting callers to not expect a return call until you return and/or identifying another person who could assist them.



  • Our instruments are digital and very sensitive. E.g., when answering questions from the caller, if you cover the receiver with your hand and say quietly or in a whisper to someone in your office, “Oh shoot, not another problem…,” the person on the other end of the call can hear. Always put a caller on hold rather than just laying the receiver down or covering it with your hand. 
  • Be very cautious when using the speaker phone. Always advise the person called they are on speaker and identify who is participating in the call. Always be careful of your surroundings, who you might be disturbing and who might hear your conversation. Remember the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and sharing of information guidelines!


Identifying rings

All non-VOIP calls come in with one ring or two. One ring identifies the call as coming from inside the district and should be answered by identifying your office or department and then your name. Two rings identify the call as coming from outside the district and should always be answered with the college name, your department or office and your name.