[When the person in charge is absent] Business telephone etiquette and how to write a message memo


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“I answered the phone, but there is no person in charge, so I can’t handle it.”

“I don’t know how to convey the absence of the person in charge”

If there is a person in charge, the conversation will be over quickly, but even if there is no one, you must respond without being rude to the other party.

In this article, we will introduce some tips for responding smoothly to phone calls when the person in charge is not available.

Basic manners when answering the phone

First of all, let’s review the basic etiquette when answering a phone call to the company.

Pick up quickly when the phone rings

When the phone rings, don’t leave it ringing.

Stop what you are doing and pick up the phone as soon as possible.

In general business etiquette, it is said that “the phone will be answered within 3 calls”.

In particular, companies and departments that have a lot of customer service may have rules such as “get out within two calls” or “get out on the first call”.

Honorifics for the other party / Discard the name for people in the company

There are various people to call, such as business partners, contractors, general inquiries, sales, etc., but think of all people on the phone as customers, and address them with the honorific “ Mr.

On the other hand, people from my company are relatives, so I don’t call them .

The same is true for presidents and executives.

  • Person: “Is Manager Yamada here?”
  • Me: “Yamada is out now.”

repeat what you hear

When you hear the company name, name, contact information, etc. from the other party, be sure to repeat it.

Saying it out loud will help you remember it.

Also, if you hear something wrong, the other person will notice and correct it when you repeat it.

use cushion words

Phone calls are voice-only communications.

If you use direct expressions in a conversation with a person whose face you cannot see, it will give a harsher impression than when you are face-to-face.

In a telephone conversation, using cushion words will make your expressions softer , so if you let them come out naturally, the conversation will be smoother.

Examples of cushion words

  • “excuse me”
  • “If it’s not a problem”
  • “I’m really sorry but”
  • “If you don’t mind”
  • “Unfortunately”
  • “Sorry to bother you,” etc.

Hang up the phone gently when you hang up

It’s not very pleasant to be cut off in the business scene.

When you hang up the phone, no matter how quickly you hang up, hang up politely .

Also, it is very rude to hang up the phone before the other person has finished talking.

As a general rule, the caller should hang up first.

If the other party is slow to hang up, make sure the conversation is completely over before slowly hanging up the phone.

Preparing to answer the phone

The first step to smart phone handling is to prepare what you will use to answer the phone.

If you pick up the phone and start looking for something after the conversation starts, you may miss important conversations, or you may feel overwhelmed because you don’t have what you need.

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Before starting work, prepare the basic tools to use when answering the phone.

note paper

When answering the phone, there is a lot of information that must be remembered, such as the name of the other party and the name of the company.

Also, I do not know what kind of business will be cut out and what kind of response will be required.

In order to accurately convey this information to the person in charge later, it is an iron rule to take notes while listening to the other party.

These notepads are meant for scribbling while on the phone, so a cheap one or a stack of backing paper will do.


If you’re doing a call transfer, you need to quickly see if the person you’ve named is available now.

It is a good idea to keep the schedule of the person in charge available at all times .

If you are using Google Calendar or Outlook Calendar, make sure that you can open it immediately on your computer.

message memo

Prepare a note to tell the absent representative what the call was about.

This memo is to be given to the person in charge, and you will copy the necessary information from the memo you wrote down during the call.

Commercial notepads and sticky notes are also available for use on the phone.

Tips on how to organize a message memo (telephone memo) addressed to the person in charge

Here are some tips for creating a message memo to convey the contents of the call to the person in charge.

make a clean copy from a note taken during the phone call

When taking notes during a phone call, the basic rule is to write quickly while listening to what the other person is saying.

It’s a memo you take for yourself, so it’s okay if it’s scribbled.

On the other hand, since the message memo is to be handed over to the person in charge, it is desirable that the necessary information is organized and written so that it can be understood at a glance .

Instead of handing over the notes you wrote on the phone, rewrite them on a notepad.

Make a message memo into a template

Since there is a set pattern for the message to be sent to the person in charge who is absent on the phone, it is convenient to create a template in advance .

  • Called date and time
  • Correspondent name
  • Company name and name of the other party
  • matter
  • Leave a message (Please call me back / I will call you again / Please tell me that there was a call, etc.)

E-mail or chat is OK

The message memo does not have to be a paper memo, as the purpose of the message memo is to ensure that the person in charge is not present.

If you send it by email or chat, the person in charge can check it even when you are away from home, so you can convey the information more quickly.

It is convenient to save the template as a draft so that it can be recalled at any time.

Procedures and points for responding to absence

Now, let’s follow the steps from actually receiving a call to leaving a message for the person in charge who is absent.

  1. answer the phone
  2. The other party appoints the person in charge
  3. Hold and check the schedule of the person in charge
  4. If you are absent, apologize and inform them of your absence and when you plan to return.
  5. ask what needs to be done
  6. After finishing the call, create a phone memo and leave a message to the person in charge

That’s all there is to it. There is a pattern for responding to absence, so if you get used to it, you will not be confused.

See also  [overcoming weak points! ] Thorough explanation of basic telephone etiquette, tips, and things to be aware of

Brief reason for absence

You don’t have to answer exactly what’s written on your calendar when your representative tells you why you’re away.

The schedule may include the destination, the business partner, and the details of the project, but that information is not necessary for the other party on the phone.

For example, if it says “13:00 to 15:00, presentation at company A’s headquarters conference room”, when you tell the person on the phone

  • “I’m out now. I’ll be back around 15:00.”

It’s ok if you just say

I’ll show you how to say different reasons for your absence later in this article.

Listen to the wishes of the other party when you are away

If you tell me that you are absent,

  • “Can I call you back, please?”
  • “Please tell me there was a phone call”

etc., the other party may request a response. At this time, listen to the other person’s wishes and pass them on to the person in charge.

However, when looking at the schedule of the person in charge

  • “It’s hard to get in touch because of my busy schedule.”
  • “I won’t come to work until a few days on vacation.”

For example, if you don’t seem to be able to meet your request, you can tell the other party about it, so they don’t have to worry that they haven’t heard from you even though you asked.

Be careful with alternatives

From the other party in the absence of the person in charge

  • “I would like to ask you something.”
  • “I would like you to tell me when you understand.”

And there are times when I am asked to do something instead of the person in charge.

If there is no problem for anyone to handle it, you can handle it instead, but if the content is only understood by the person in charge, it may cause unexpected trouble if you proceed without permission.

If you decide that you can’t handle it yourself, don’t force yourself to tell them that you can’t.

If you are in a hurry, it is better to proceed while consulting with your boss or person in charge.

How to say the reason for the absence of the person in charge and how to respond

Do you ever have trouble figuring out how to explain things to the other party when the person in charge is absent?

There is a fixed way of saying things in business, so if you remember it, you won’t get lost every time you respond.

We will also introduce how to respond to each reason for absence.

go out

One-day errands (things that return to the office) that are relatively close to each other can be counted as “going out” regardless of the destination.

When the other party is told to go out, they will recognize that they will be back in a few hours.

If the person in charge returns to the company during business hours, it is common for the person in charge to call back .

If you are late returning and it seems that you will not be able to respond on the same day, it is better to tell that fact.

business trip

“Business trip” is used when you are going to a far place compared to going out.

The definition of “business trip” varies depending on the company, but if you say “absence on a business trip”, it means “absence all day” or “continues until the next day or later”.

Although he will not be able to return to the office on the same day, he may be able to contact you or respond to you from the destination of the business trip, as he is still on duty during the business trip.

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Waiting on customers/visitors

Absence for customer service is expressed as “during service” or “during visitor”.

The person in charge is in the company, but he is away from his desk to deal with the customer and cannot answer the phone until it is finished.

I’m in the office and can make a phone call as soon as I’m done with the customer service, so I often call back as soon as I’m done with the customer service .


If the person in charge is on vacation, say “I’m on vacation” or “I’m on vacation.”

If you are on vacation, you may be able to convince the other party that you will not be able to contact them on the same day, but even if you absolutely must respond to an emergency, refrain from contacting the person in charge while on vacation as much as possible and go to work . Consider whether you can handle it with the members you have .

Leave the call to AI when the person in charge is not available! What is “Canario”?

As long as the company receives a call, someone has to take over if the person in charge is absent.

However, in reality, it would be convenient if the person in charge could answer the phone directly or receive a message on a smartphone even when out of the office.

With NEC Networks & System Integration’s “Canario,” you can automate call forwarding and receiving messages.

When the other party appoints the person in charge, AI transfers the call to the cell phone of the person in charge.

If you can’t go out, the message will be sent directly to the person in charge as a text message, so if you have a smartphone, the person in charge can receive information in real time.


To summarize the points for responding to calls when the person in charge is absent,

  • Always have memos and schedules ready when answering the phone
  • It is convenient to create a message memo for the absent person in charge as a template.
  • Learn how to say the reason for your absence and how to respond as a set

If you keep this, I think that you can handle the absence quite smoothly.

Still, if the burden of answering the phone at the site is heavy, please try “Canario”, where AI answers the phone instead of your staff.