How to respond when you do not understand the content of an incoming call [Basic business phone etiquette]

What is the phone response method for complicated questions that are not in charge or do not understand the contentNotes

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When answering the phone in the office, you have to answer calls addressed to other staff members and handle matters on behalf of staff members who are absent.

Sometimes you have to deal with matters that are not in your charge, which can be confusing.

Especially in the case of telephone calls, it is easy to fall into a situation where you have to respond without seeing the other person’s face and not knowing the details of the situation .

Not only in sales departments that often go out, but recently with the introduction of telework, the number of cases where the person in charge is working from home has increased, such as “I don’t understand the content of the phone call” or “There is no one who can respond.”

This article will guide you on what to do when you don’t know what’s on your phone.


[By case] How to respond when you don’t understand the content of the call

If you can’t understand the content of the call or don’t know how to respond, first think about what is the cause and what part you don’t understand .

If you do not understand the content when you receive a business call, there are cases such as the following.

When you do not know a proper noun such as the other party’s name or company name

Proper nouns, such as names and company names, can be difficult to hear on the phone.

However, it is very rude to mispronounce the company name of a business partner or the name of the person in charge.

If you can’t hear, repeat the following until you understand on the spot.

  • “Excuse me. May I ask your name again?”

If you can’t understand the words by sound, you can also change the way you hear them, such as by asking, “What kind of kanji do you write?”

Also, by repeating the name you hear, you can ask the other person to correct you if you make a mistake.

When you receive questions outside of your charge

It’s the same for everyone that it’s difficult to do perfectly what you’re not in charge of. It is natural that I cannot give an immediate answer when I am asked about something outside of my area of ​​responsibility.

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If you have someone else in charge, it’s best to let them handle it. If you think it’s good and answer instead, the story may get complicated.

  • “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”
  • “Unfortunately, the person in charge is absent.”

Let’s ask the person in charge to respond honestly that you can’t handle it yourself .

When the person in charge is unknown

Some of the calls I receive at the office say, “I don’t know who is in charge” or “I didn’t know the department in charge, so I called the main number . “

In this case, the purpose of the other party is to “get the person in charge to take over” or “to tell me who is in charge”.

If you can determine who is in charge after hearing the matter , tell the other party the department in charge and contact information, and if possible, convey the following phrases and pass them on .

  • “In that case, the person in charge is 〇〇 section.”
  • “I will connect you to the person in charge.”

If you do not know the person in charge even after hearing the matter,

  • “I will check and get back to you.”

Let’s check the person in charge and take action so that we can contact the customer.

When the content of the question is too difficult to understand

If the question requires a high level of knowledge, or if the question uses a lot of technical terms and you do not understand the meaning, do not force yourself to answer immediately.

Even if you want to solve the problem somehow, you will lose credibility as a company if you say the wrong thing or give vague answers.

  • “I will investigate. Please wait a moment.”
  • “I’ll check and get back to you.”

After getting the other party’s approval and securing time, let’s answer after researching.

When undecided matters or contents that cannot be answered immediately

When answering the phone, you may be asked about things that have not yet been decided or are uncertain.

There may be cases where it is better to consult before answering, or where you want to discuss the content of the answer within the team.

If there is anything that has not been decided or needs confirmation, be honest and tell them that you cannot answer at this time.

  • “I’m sorry, but it is undecided.”
  • “We will inform you as soon as it is decided.”

I can’t give you specific information, but the other party is interested and has been inquiring.

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For those who wish to be contacted after confirmation, if you ask for the contact information and transfer it to the person in charge, it may lead to effective sales to prospective customers.

Key Points for Telephone Responses to Overcome “I Don’t Know”

Key Points for Telephone Responses to OvercomeIf you experience “I don’t know” or “I’m in trouble” when answering the phone , you may not be good at answering the phone.

However, it is not necessary for one person to answer all phone calls at the company immediately.

Even if the scope of work is wide and it is impossible to grasp everything, there are many cases where it can be resolved by assigning the right person, reporting, contacting, and consulting as necessary .

go to person in charge

If you do not understand the content of the call, do not try to solve it yourself, ask the person in charge to handle it. It is the person’s job to answer even the toughest questions.

Conversely, spending too much time answering questions that are not in your charge slows down your work.

Asking the right person to respond will also lead to the efficiency of the entire company.

Don’t try to respond on the spot, turn back

A phone call is a conversation with the other party, so we tend to think that we have to answer on the spot or that we have to finish the call .

However, when it comes to things that you don’t understand or that are advanced, it’s better for the other party to be able to understand and respond to the question rather than receiving a vague answer on the spot.

Don’t rush to answer something you don’t know right away , take time to turn around and look it up.

If there is a special window, we will guide you

If your company has a contact point for inquiries such as a call center or customer center, it may be better to guide them there.

The call center accumulates a history of all kinds of correspondence, and it also serves as a “hub” function that links to the appropriate department.

It’s better to contact the call center than to bounce around between departments. You may get a quick and satisfactory answer.

AI is in charge when the person in charge is unknown or absent! What is Canario?

When answering phone calls at a company, you may find that you are unexpectedly spending time looking up the person in charge or contacting the person in charge who is not available.

The trouble is that your hands stop while doing these tasks.

In order to reduce the time spent on answering calls and increase the time to concentrate on the original work, it would be ideal if the call was automatically routed to the appropriate person in charge.

See also  3 ways to forward incoming calls on business phones

Canario, recommended by NEC Networks & System Integration, is a service that uses AI to automatically forward calls.

Since you can answer the phone even if you are not in the office, the person in charge can receive the call directly even if you are away from home or teleworking.

Even if you can’t answer the phone, you can convert the message into text and send it to the person in charge. You no longer have to worry about answering phone calls outside of your field.

If you don’t know the person in charge, you can also call the set members all at once , so you don’t have to worry about missing them.


We have summarized how to respond when you do not understand the contents of the phone.

Responding to phone calls that are not in your charge and researching things you don’t understand can take up more energy than you might think.

In a company, if each person can concentrate on their own work, efficiency should increase significantly.

Please take advantage of Canario, which connects unfamiliar phone calls to people who understand.