Even if you have a virtual reception service picking up phone lines during the day, you’ll still have incoming calls from time to time. Whether the phone is ringing from a direct outside caller or your answering service routed an important client through, knowing how to make a great first impression when you pick up the receiver is important for ongoing business success. Here are five tips for dealing with your in-house phone lines.

1. Pick up within two rings.

Don’t leave customers waiting while the phone rings and rings. You wouldn’t ignore someone standing at the front desk, so pick up as soon as possible. In incoming reception situations, that might mean answering the phone and asking the person if they mind being put on hold a moment. If you have a virtual reception service, you know that any call coming to your line is important enough to make it through. That customer has already been routed once, so picking up quickly keeps their overall time on the phone to a minimum.

2. Practice strong listening skills.

Always use strong listening skills. Let the caller state their purpose without interruption when possible and try to determine what their mindset is. Are they upset, happy, frustrated or in need? By listening carefully to vocal clues and what the caller says, you are more able to help them.

3. Keep greetings brief.

If you have a virtual reception service, you don’t need to answer all your calls with a company greeting — someone probably did that already. Make sure you have a way to tell which calls are being routed from an answering service and which are coming directly from outside, though. Try to answer outside phone calls with a brief, professional and friendly company greeting.

4. Be sincere.

Whether you’re giving a greeting or simply stating your name and asking what you can do for the caller, keep greetings and communications sincere. In an effort to sound upbeat and friendly, some individuals can get over-the-top and end up sounding like a late-night infomercial spokesperson. Getting too robust might make you sound insincere, which can turn callers off even before you begin helping them.

5. Smile when you talk.

Sure, it might sound cliche, but this top tip has been around for ages because it’s true. Smiling as you talk can alter you voice slightly and make you sound friendlier. Callers respond when someone answers them in a sincere, friendly manner.