The most annoying telephone phrases and how to avoid them

Eine Umfrage bei den Daily Telegraph Lesern hat ergeben, dass viele höflich gemeinte Telefonfloskeln und Mailbox-Ansagen nicht die gewünschte Wirkung haben. Lesen Sie, welche Sätze Sie unbedingt meiden sollten, und was Sie stattdessen sagen können.

We all try to be polite on the phone, but sometimes, a well-meant phrase can have the opposite effect and actually annoy the caller. According to a Daily Telegraph survey, automated messages are particularly likely to get your caller backs up. One message, which is used on company mailboxes throughout the English-speaking world, was voted to one of the most irritating phrases in the whole English language. The phrase in question is: Your call is important to us. If the call were important, the readers argued, the company would have someone to answer it.

Other things that annoyed callers were

  • unknown telephone callers asking "How are you?" (why should they be interested if they dont´ know me?)
  • "Thank you for your patience, our next operator will be available shortly." (when you have allready been waiting for a long time)
  • "To speak with a representative, press the star key at any time." (after you have been given four other options of keys to press)
  • "Hold on please, I´ll connect you.", without checkling if the person was phoning from a mobile phone somewhere at the other end of the world.

One businessman complained that he had phone a big internet computer company about returning a laptop that was not working properly. After things had been solved, the call centre agent asked the caller to stand by, saying that her boss would like to speak to him. She didn´t say why, but put him on hold where he waited ... and waited ... and waited. After a few minutes, the boss eventually picked up his phone. He just wanted to ask our pour caller if he had been satisfied with the service he had received.

So what should your voicemail message sound like?

What the Daily Telegraph´s readers want is an honest message. Below are some suggestions for professional voicemail messages that will keep your clients happy.

Read more about voicemail messages in the newsletter Secretary Today - Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen.

For incoming calls to your company

You have reached the Chemical Company. If you know the extension of the person you wish to reach, you may dial it at any time. Otherwise, please choose from one of the following options. For general enquiries press one. For sales, press two. For accounting, press three. For technical support, press four. For complaints, press five. Otherwise, press zero or stay in the line and a member of our staff will assist you shortly.

For your own mailbox

You´ve reached the voicemail box of Sarah Kammberg. I´m sorry I´m not able to take your call right now. Please leave a message, saying why you are calling. Please leave a number and tell me when I can call you back. When you have finished you may press the pound key for further options.