11

Office phone rings and I pick up:

Me: say my name and/or branch

Person: Oh, I'm sorry, I think I called the wrong phone number.

What's a good response to end this concisely and professionally?

  1. No problem. click

  2. Oh, you reached the the specify where she actually called office. Were you looking to get somewhere else?

  3. You reached last four of phone number.

Something else? On my personal phone I go with #1, but in extreme circumstances I have an awkward 15 second conversation at work determining that yes, they did indeed call the wrong number.

Is there a standard way of handling this to concisely get off the phone without being unprofessional?


More information as requested:

  1. This phone can be reached from the outside world, but I can distinguish external calls when the phone is ringing. Thus, my question only pertains to people calling from inside (although they are complete strangers to me 99.9% of the time).

  2. I am willing, able and expected to answer calls coming from outside, but again I can distinguish when a call is coming from inside the phone network.

  3. My question regards only people calling from inside the workplace.

  • 1
    If you can at all do it, seriously consider silencing your phone and having it go to voicemail, then screen as needed when you have time. The time lost from the interruption because context-switching is going to be much longer than the duration of the phone call anyway. The fact that 15 seconds lost is an extreme scenario for you means that you probably should not be answering a phone at all. – teego1967 Oct 6 '15 at 17:39
  • 5
    Also beware giving any additional information in case it's a really good attempt at social engineering. Even if the call comes from INSIDE the office, it couldn't be some malicious person who is chancing an opportunity. Given that your office is big enough that there are people you don't know, better to be quick and polite than all too willing to help them gain more information. – coblr Oct 6 '15 at 22:24
  • 1
    "they yes" -> "that yes"? It's too short for me to suggest an edit. – Reinstate Monica Oct 7 '15 at 7:24
  • For #1, you could modify it if you want "No problem ...(pause)". If they're really wanting to ask you for help, they'll bring it up in the pause. If not, then you know the conversation is over. No need to offer help if they don't need it. If your job is reception, on the other hand, your approach might be different. – Brandin Oct 7 '15 at 11:09
  • 1
    Considering the caller has no idea who they did call, you can say whatever you like :P – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 7 '15 at 14:43
28

Number one is all you need if you don't know the person and it's definitely an internal call. The user has almost always just mis-dialed and as soon as they realise, is keen to hang up and dial the right number. I perhaps wouldn't be quite as abrupt, but "No problem, have a great afternoon!" (or something fitting with your style of speech) would usually be appropriate.

If they dial the same number again, 3 may be appropriate: No problem, you've reached 0123 or similar lets them know instantly whether they've dialed the wrong number, or whether they have the wrong number written down/memorised. Just to help them avoid doing it a third time.

The exception would be if you work for some kind of helpdesk or similar-ish department to the one they're looking for: eg if they're looking for Paul Smith and you're Terry Jones, you probably don't need to worry about it... but if you're the IT Help Desk and they're looking for Network Services, you may want to take a moment to redirect them.

  • 5
    In larger organizations, extensions are recycled over time and they may be calling the "correct" extension but are trying to reach someone who is no longer with the company or has a new extension. – Eric Oct 6 '15 at 16:09
  • True, but that tends to be the exception rather than the most common alternative of someone just hitting a 5 instead of a 6. That's why I try to be brief on the first call (it's probably a mistake) then try to be more helpful if they call back again (it's probably the wrong number written down, or they're expecting someone else at this number) – Jon Story Oct 6 '15 at 19:34
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    I agree with keeping it brief since in the OP's question the caller is apologizing for dialing the wrong number. If the caller instead said, "I'm sorry, I was trying to reach XYZ" it would make sense to offer help but most people just saying "wrong number" are trying to end the conversation. – BSMP Oct 6 '15 at 19:45
  • @JonStory In my experience with a large organization, "fat fingering" the extension is more the exception. Most internal calls are made through soft phones (Microsoft Office Communicator or Lync) or through stored contacts in phones so it's unlikely to dial the "wrong" extension. – Eric Oct 9 '15 at 12:56
13

My stock response is "I think you have the wrong number (if they haven't already figured it out). What number were you trying to reach?" This gives me the opportunity to help them figure out where they went wrong, and is brief without being too abrupt. Most of the time it was just a mistake, but sometimes they have an outdated number and can correct their source which prevents future misdials.

3

I usually just say "You have the wrong number" and leave it at that. If your company has an automated phone system for the main line where you "spell" the name of the person you are looking for, this kind of thing tends to happen.

One thing I stopped doing was offering to give out the correct extension or to transfer the person to the correct extension. It was obvious to me that some callers had called me randomly because they didn't know the extension and were too lazy to use the "spell" thing. Or they were trying to access someone who was not normally accessible, and were hoping some sucker would take the bait and bypass the controls. Either way, I would refer them back to the main line.

If they wanted me to look up the number, I just said I wasn't able to give out that information. If they asked me to transfer them, I would say that I had no idea how to do that, which was actually true. (The one time I tried, I disconnected the call.) I could have figured it out pretty easily, but not knowing gave me a legitimate reason to decline the request.

1

This depends on the expectations the other side has. When I worked for my school's help desk, I would offer to route them to another department if it was within the university. For example, they wanted to call campus police and called us instead.

Usually, you can end with a simple pleasantry. You can also query them if you sense they're still on the line, "is there anything else I may help you with?"

Generally, wait and see what the other side needs. But "no problem" works Ok (though I personally prefer "have a nice day", but that's extra sugar I guess).

  • This would seem applicable if it was an external call (as you want to be helpful to your clients), but given it's an internal call I'd be less worried about trying to help them. – AndyT Oct 7 '15 at 10:31
1

If the caller responds "Oh, I'm sorry, I think I called the wrong phone number.", as you stated, then I'd say that answering "No problem" and ending the call is just fine.

However, my experience shows that an equally likely reaction is "Oh, I'm sorry, I was trying to reach [not me]". In such a case, I try help them figure out what went wrong. Depending on your phone system, you have to decide which is more helpful: Do people typically dial the actual number, then giving your number is helpful. In my last institution, the phones had actual keyboards and people usually "dialled by name" - often, giving your extension wouldn't help them because they didn't know the correct extension

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