Tag Archives: Answering Phones

TIPS FOR A PA: How to Roll Calls aka Answering Phones for Newbs

screaming-into-phone

One of the main responsibilities of an Office PA is to roll calls. You have a phone on your desk with many buttons (and every fucking phone is different and way more complicated than it needs to be) and it rings all day long. The thought of answering phones when I started office PAing was honestly terrifying. Not only did I have the fear of not knowing what I was doing — I had the fear of  not knowing what I was doing in front of a bunch of people. When you’re in a production office, generally all the PA’s are set up in a bullpen. No cubicle dividers — just a room full of desks. So everyone can hear everything you say.  It was scary… but a completely unjustified fear. Answering phones is one of the easiest things in the world. Suffice to say, I learned fast. So here are some tips.

You’re sitting at your desk. The phones ring. Pick it up as fast as possible. If possible don’t let it ring more than once. Answer. “Production, this is [Insert Name Here].” Some people just answer with “Production”. But I like to let people know who they’re talking to.

One of the first things you should do if you’re on a new phone system is figure out how to transfer a call. Like I said, every phone is different. There are two types of transfers. Blind Transfers and Consult Transfers. A blind transfer simply transfers one call to another phone. A consult transfer transfers you first so you can say, “So and So is on the line, would you like me to put them through?” and they will either say, “Yes”, and you complete the transfer, or, “No, take a message”. You usually only have to do this if it’s someone important… or if you’re transferring out to someone’s cell.  If someone is calling for another department — just blind transfer. No need to consult. 

So someone calls and you answer the phone, person on the other line says, “Hello, can I talk to so and so”. If it’s another department, simply say “Yes, please hold.”  and blind transfer them to the extension on the phone list.  If they’re asking for someone in your department (Apoc, Poc, another PA, etc) you can probably just put them on hold and tell that person what line they’re on. E.g. “Hey, Jess, So and So is on Line 1 for you.”

9000 times out of 10 the person on the other line will say “Hi, can I speak to so and so?” Without giving their name or why they’re calling.  If it’s for another department… just transfer them over. But if it’s for someone in production — you need to find out two things. Who they are, and why they’re calling.

“Yes, may I ask who’s calling please?”  If it’s a name you recognize or know to be important, it’s probably okay to just walk up to the person in your department and be like, “So and So is on the line for you.” But if it’s someone you don’t recognize you need to be all like, “May I ask what the call is regarding.” I had so much trouble with this when I started out. How do you ask someone why they’re calling without sounding like a little shit. You can’t just ask, “Why are you calling?” It just sounds bad. So asking what the call is regarding seems to be the best way to ask that question.

Also if the dude doesn’t have the name John Smith and you’re not exactly sure what he said… a good way to find out what his name is, is by asking “Can you spell your first and last name for me, please?” That why when you tell the producer that Moises Trajicomahetmetet is calling for him, he actually knows who you’re talking about. It’s very important to get names right. Double checking with the person on the phone is way less embarrassing than getting the name wrong while talking to the producer.  DONT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS ON THE PHONE. Get the information down correctly. Get their name spelt right. If the dude on the other end of the phone is an irritated piece of shit, it’s not like they can reach through the phone and strangle you. Remember, you’re just doing your job. Get the name right. Ask what the call is regarding, and then place them on hold.

Same thing for taking messages. Name. Who they’re with. Why they’re calling. Note down the date and time, and ALWAYS ask for a callback number. Unless it’s a person you know is very familiar to the person they’re calling, always ask something along the lines of “And what number can you be reached at?” Even if you know the person you’re giving the message to has their number, you’ll save them the time to look it up.

That’s all I can think of about phones at the moment. There is always 3 way calling and conference calling… but every phone is different so I can’t really tell you how to do that.

I hate phones.