Phone Etiquette 101: Returning Missed Calls

Phone Etiquette 101: Returning Missed Calls

Missing calls is part of the learning curve of doing business. Many new business owners feel that missing a few calls is not a big deal; “If it’s something important, they’ll leave a voicemail and I’ll get back to them.”

Missing calls is inevitable if you’re doing business solo (unless you’re working with a virtual receptionist!), and if you do miss a call, your first priority should be returning the call ASAP. It shows respect for the customer and an eagerness to do business together – the best way to start off a business relationship.

Returning missed calls is absolutely essential. It’s discouraging and off-putting for customers when they call a business, leave a voicemail or message, and don’t get a callback. Failing to receive a callback makes them feel the company doesn’t value them as a customer. Current customers may decide to do business elsewhere and potential customers won’t take a second look.

Returning missed calls is much easier when you follow simple phone etiquette rules. We’ll also provide a few examples and tips below for returning missed calls.

Phone Etiquette 101: Returning Missed Calls

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As you read through these etiquette tips for returning missed calls, remember: Callers become upset when they reach out to a company about an important issue and don’t receive an answer. That makes it even more essential to return calls quickly and be apologetic about missing the call.

Call triage

When returning missed calls, you need to hear all the messages in the queue so you can determine which are top priority and which can be returned later in the day. Unless a message clearly takes precedence over the others – for example, a voicemail describing an emergency – listen and jot down the information from each message. Your first callback should be to the top-priority call, then you can move down the list in chronological order if you’d prefer.


After you’ve missed someone’s attempt to contact your company, it’s only polite to show sincerity and be apologetic about your lack of availability to the customer. It goes a long way – if you’re genuine and apologize for missing the call, you can get right to the heart of the matter the customer originally called about while showing the customer you won’t make a habit of being unavailable.

Taking notes

When you receive the voicemail or message a caller has left for you, take a moment to look over it or listen to it again to have a better understanding of what the call was about. This makes the call more efficient for both parties and enables you to do a better job of doing “call triage.” This part is a cinch with a virtual receptionist – they can take detailed messages for you that give you all the information you need for a well-prepped callback.

These are our etiquette tips for returning missed calls – keep them in mind next time you’re reviewing your latest voicemails and messages. While missing calls never looks professional to a customer, returning calls quickly can help you regain their trust much of the time.