How to Make a Great First Impression Over the Phone: 4 Tips

First impressions can make or break a potential relationship with your customers  

When you talk to customers, new clients, or people in your community, how you act can make a huge difference. Studies show that it takes just seven seconds for someone to form a first impression. In phone conversations, your voice, listening skills, and language entirely form that impression. How you make a great first impression might seem simple, but in truth, it takes consideration and deliberate choices. 

If you can’t see somebody or read their body language, how can you make a great first impression?  

When talking on the phone, you need patience, understanding, and a friendly tone to show professionalism, kindness, and skill. Since you can’t make eye contact, it’s all about your voice. 

In some cases, this can make it harder to connect with your caller. But it can also be an advantage. It allows you to focus on their words and emotions without distractions. When you are on the phone, appearance or external factors don’t cloud your first impression. 

In this article, we’ll explore four proven tips for how to make a great first impression over the phone. We’ll help you avoid bad experiences, build stronger customer relationships, and recover from any blunders. 

How to Make a Great First Impression Over the Phone 

1: Give a Genuine, Warm Smile 

When you answer the phone, your tone sets the stage for the entire interaction.  

This is your first impression to your first impression. Pause and think about the person on the other end of the line. Be present and ready to connect with them in a genuine way. This short pause can make a world of difference in how your voice is perceived. 

Then, smile. Even though the caller can’t see your consideration or smile, they can hear it in the warmth and positivity of your voice.  

Convey that smile to your caller through your upbeat tone and friendly demeanor. Use phrases like “I’d be happy to help you with that” instead of the blander “Okay, great, I’ll look into that.” Your callers will feel the difference.  

Remember, each call is an opportunity to brighten someone’s day and make a positive impact on your relationship with your business.  

Learn more about how callers can tell if you’re not smiling > 

2: Give Them Your Undivided Attention 

In a busy world, distractions like emails and notifications can take our focus away when we are on the phone. It’s easy to try to split your attention.  

But callers can quickly sense when you’re not fully present in the conversation.  

Step 2 to how to make a great impression is to focus on your caller. Give them your undivided attention. Get curious about who they are, their experience, and their concerns. Answer calls in a quiet place and put aside your distractions.  

Your caller may not be in the room with you, but they still should feel like the most important person in that room, moment, and interaction. When you pay attention to your callers, you show them that you care, and caring is how you build trust. 

Explore additional call handling best practices for your business > 

3: Give a Listening Ear 

Active listening is a critical skill for creating a positive first impression over the phone. Instead of simply waiting for your turn to speak, focus on understanding your caller’s needs, concerns, and perspectives. 

Use verbal cues like “I see” or “I understand” to show that you’re engaged in the conversation. Ask clarifying questions to ensure you grasp the full picture. Focus on responding to what’s being said rather than reacting.  

These are listening cues. Silence doesn’t indicate to your callers that you’re listening. In fact, they may find extended periods of silence stressful, even if they’re filling it. By demonstrating that you’re truly listening to your caller, you’ll make them feel valued and heard, setting the stage for a productive and positive interaction. 

Get top tips on improving relationships with angry callers > 

4: Create a Human Connection 

In an age of automated phone menus and chatbots, the human touch has become a rare and valuable commodity. To stand out from the crowd and create a memorable first impression, focus on building a genuine human connection with your caller. 

One way to create these connections is to assume that a client or friend you admire has referred the caller. It doesn’t matter if it’s true. It’s about how you approach the conversation. This will lend a measure of warmth and empathy to your voice that will make the caller feel more comfortable.  

In fact, show empathy in many ways throughout the call. If they have a problem, validate it. Consider sharing a related personal anecdote. If you don’t have one, try something like “I absolutely understand, and I’d be happy to help you. 

Consider using their name throughout the conversation. By treating your caller as a unique individual rather than just another task on your list, you’ll create a warm and personalized experience that leaves a lasting impact. 

Learn more about using empathy in customer service > 

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How to Recover from a Poor First Impression 

Despite your best efforts, there may be times when a phone interaction doesn’t go as smoothly as planned.  

If you make a poor first impression, it’s important to know how to bounce back. A bad first impression can be caused by any manner of things—a bad day, a miscommunication, or even general stress. But you can recover. 

If things are not going well, start by admitting your mistakes, apologizing sincerely, and trying to understand each other. Sincerity and accountability create an exchange that feels earnest and human. Once you’ve done that, focus on finding a solution to the caller’s problem or concern, going the extra mile to make things right.  

Then, follow up. Ensure that they’re happy with their resolution and demonstrate your commitment to their success. Let them know that you value their ongoing experience. 

Remember, your relationship with that caller doesn’t end after that call. You don’t just care about how to make a good first impression. You also care about making a strong second, third, and 100th impression. 

How to Make A Great First Impression With Abby Connect 

At Abby, we’ve perfected the art of creating the best first impression over the phone. Over the years, we’ve assembled best practices that create consistent, efficient, and memorable customer experiences. 

Our top tips for how to make a great first impression are to genuinely connect with callers and smile, offer your undivided attention, listen, and focus on the human connection.  

Of course, that can be a big undertaking. Luckily, Abby Connect can help. Every phone call is an opportunity to showcase your brand, professionalism, and dedication to customer success. A dedicated team of Abby virtual receptionists can help you get there.  

Our receptionists are trained in the art of delighting callers and helping you capture business. Discover the Abby Connect difference. 


Written by

Marlene Cosain

Marlene Cosain

Marlene started with Abby Connect 7 years ago as a receptionist and was won over by the culture and care the company has for its employees. The minute she took her first phone call, she fell in love with helping people. Since then, Marlene has been a pivotal piece of growing Abby Connect – having been a long-time leader in hiring, training, developing, and managing the receptionist floor. Outside of work, Marlene and her husband also run an online retail business. Marlene’s personal mission as a certified Life Coach and as an Abby Way Co-Director is to inspire, empower and educate others in the Abby Way.

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