1

My boss doesn't like to take calls that he's not expecting but I'm not always sure who he's expecting. If a client calls and asks to speak to him, I ask who is calling and find it easiest to say "let me see if he's available". When he says he can't/won't take the call I ask to take a message and let them know he will call back. He doesn't like when I politely say "let me check" because he thinks it's obvious to the caller that he's here but just doesn't want me to take the call. What is the best way to politely check if he's available without letting the caller know my boss is screening? I sometimes will say he's on a call or in a meeting but I can see if he'll be done soon but I feel like that sends the same message. Suggestions?

Sometimes he will let me know he is expecting a call. Other times a client will call randomly or perhaps he'll be emailing with someone who decides to call, I'm not always aware. I don't think it's a big deal that I don't always know who to pass thru, I just am looking for ideas on how to check if he would like to speak with them without letting the caller know he's sitting right near me :)

  • 12
    If he doesn't like the verbage you use, ask him what he would like you to say. – Keith Jun 27 at 13:55
  • 4
    If your boss is able to say I don't like it when you do X then is he also willing to say instead, you should do Y? Maybe you could ask him what he wants you to do if he finds your current wording to be a problem. – dwizum Jun 27 at 14:14
  • It sounds like you're asking for suggestions on what to say to people when you need to check, rather than how to know whether to screen a call or not? I would rotate between a few - "I think he's on a call at the moment, let me just check", "I think he's in a meeting, let me just go an see", "I'll just check if he's at his desk right now" – Smock Jun 27 at 15:52
2

You mentioned that he sits near you, so if he can listen to your conversation I would proceed the following way.

Ask the caller to identify themselves and you repeat their name out loud so that your boss can hear it. If your boss indicates he will take it you transfer the call to him, otherwise let the caller know that your boss is not available and ask for their callback information.

Anyone who your boss has previously indicated he is expecting a call from you should transfer as well.

1

As you get used to the job, you'll learn to spot the genuine ones (reps, regular suppliers and customers etc.) but for now, unless your boss is willing to go through every single person he'll take a call from, you'll have to talk to him each time.

Where I work, we get a lot of cold calling. Some of it is easy to spot (his name is Chris which is all he goes by but a lot of people ask for Christopher because that's the name on the company records), or there's a lot of background noise, suggesting it's a call centre. The really annoying ones are the ones who go "yeah, it's John. He's expecting my call" when he really isn't.

Most of the time, I just say that I haven't seen him today but I will try his line. This gives me time to talk to him and find out if he wants the call without alerting the caller to the fact he's in the building. If not, I just lie and say that it's gone through to voicemail and if they'd like me to take a message.

You could also say that he's about to go into a meeting or he's just too busy for some reason or another. Whatever you're comfortable doing until you get to know the ins and outs of taking cold calls.

1

As an assistant working with a phone, your job is to screen calls. People expect you to be the "1st line of defense". Most probably, though, they will try and go over your head.

That's why you need to have a script ready, and stick to it. You can:

  1. answer the person if the question is within your knowledge/duty (and entitled to do so).
  2. redirect the call to the right person/service.
  3. schedule appointments.

Either you boss gave you a list of people he will answer calls from, or he didn't. When he didn't, make sure you have:

  1. the name of the caller
  2. the reason for the call
  3. ask for the message

All this has to be done in a very professional and diplomatic way: show them that you're willing to help them, but it has to be your way, as you have a job to do, and a way to do it, as expected by your boss (and also a script to follow, but keep this part hidden from them, as it's none of the curstomer's business). Don't put them on hold, or ask to wait for you to check wether or not boss is available. Lead the call. Be nice, but you ask questions, and they have to understand it's done in order to help, not to dismiss.

Make sure they feel like you're the best person that can help them at the moment, and that the way to help them is to gather this information, and make sure the boss/right person will read it, so they can call back.

All this can be achieved once you've coordinated with your boss, got the right script, and trained an bit. A quick internet search with the title of your question (best way to screen calls) will lead to plenty of useful ressources.

0

You should ask your boss to clearly communicate his expectations. It sounds like he's doing a "guess what I'm thinking" type thing here.

As to which calls he's expecting, maybe you could maintain a shared list or meet in the morning to go over his schedule or something like that. Either way, it's unreasonable for him to expect you to be able to read his mind as to which clients he wants to talk to (you can't).

0

Ask your boss to provide you with a list of people and companies that he's willing to take calls from. It's entirely reasonable that you should ask who's calling before telling them your boss is or isn't available.

For anyone on the list, put them through if your boss is available.

For anyone not on the list, take a message.

  • It changes throughout the day. Sometimes he will let me know he is expecting a call. Other times a client will call randomly or perhaps he'll be emailing with someone who decides to call, I'm not always aware. I don't think it's a big deal that I don't always know who to pass thru, I just am looking for ideas on how to check if he would like to speak with them without letting the caller know he's sitting right near me :) – Teresa Jun 27 at 14:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.