Ask TrueGuest: PBX Basics

Dear TrueGuest,

I was recently promoted to PBX Manager at a 4 diamond hotel.  Our service scores in PBX have been awful.  Can you help?




We can help.  Good phone skills are a lost art.  If you are experiencing poor scores when it comes to handling phone calls, focus on the basics.  The secret to PBX is consistency.  Here are some basic tips:

1.  Make it your goal to have every single phone call answered within 3 rings.  Test to make sure that it is happening.  Call the hotel during different times of the day and score each shift.  Don’t forget night audit.  We often call night audit and don’t get an answer even after 20 rings.

2.  Place a small mirror by every phone in the PBX office and teach every operator to answer every call with a smile in their voice.  If they have a smile in their voice, they also have a smile on their face…  hence the mirror.

Basics on answering external calls

All calls should be answered by using a greeting (good morning, good afternoon, good evening), announcing the name of the hotel, and announcing the name of the person answering the call, and an offer to help.  Example:  Good morning, thank you for calling the World’s Best Hotel, this is April, How may I help you?

The secret here is consistency.  The phone should be answered the same by every operator on every shift.

Basics on answering internal calls

Again, all calls should be answered by using a greeting (good morning, good afternoon, good evening), announcing the name of the department, and announcing the name of the person answering the call, and an offer to help.  Example:  Good morning, thank you for calling Guest Services, this is April, How may I help you?

This same format should be used by every person who answers a phone in the entire hotel.  It doesn’t matter if a guest calls the front desk, room service, or housekeeping.  Consistency is the key.

Also, when answering an internal call, you must use the guest’s name at least once during the call.  This is one of the most important keys to building loyalty.  Also, answering the phone by saying ‘good afternoon, Smith party’ does not count as using the guest’s name.  If your chain requires you to answer that way, that is fine but be sure to use the guest’s name at least one other time.  We prefer that you end every call with ‘thank you Mr. Smith’ or ‘my pleasure to connect you, Mr. Smith’.

How to transfer calls

Teach your team to say ‘my pleasure to connect you’ when transferring a call instead of ‘sure’ or ‘one moment’ or any other bad habits they are currently using.  It makes it clear to the guest that you are transferring the call.  Many times a simple question such as ‘do you have rooms available tonight?’ is answered with ‘one moment’ and then the call is transferred to a reservations automated attendant.  You must make it clear that you are transferring the call if you are not handling the request.

How to place guests on hold

The key to remember is to always ASK a guest to hold by saying ‘may I place you on hold for a moment?’ instead of ‘hold please’.  Try not to put the caller on hold more than one time during the call without an explanation.

Should we use an automated attendant?

Automated attendants are fine as a second resort if all operators are busy but should never be the first option.  A caller should always get a real live person.  Hotels are service-focused and it should show.  That is what separates us from calling Citibank or Microsoft Tech Support.  If you are tired of just transferring half of your calls to Reservations and are tempted to put in an automated attendant, think again.  Spend the proper time in promoting your reservations phone number instead so calls go to the right place in the first place.

Have any tips of your own?  Post them below!  Have a question that you would like answered?  Post it below or send it to us via the contact page.

4 thoughts on “Ask TrueGuest: PBX Basics

  1. Greetings!

    I see that you do not have much of a data fro front office. Some information on Guest Handling, Complaint Handling, Rapport Building, Revenue Management, Effective Guest Communication would help.


    Zoheb Memon

  2. We just had our mystery shopper at the hotel and commented that the staff didn’t use or maybe didn’t remember their names and that water hasn’t been poured.Now, the manager wants to have a training in these points with the staff.I know that the staff knows about this already and we don’t want to put them in a training room and be reminded like children.
    Can you please give us points/advice on how to go on from here?
    Thank you.

  3. Hi Rose. The use of guest name is one of the most missed service standards during our Service Experience Audit. Unfortunately, there is no magic training class that can really help employees use guest names. It is all about practice and becoming comfortable with it. The first thing to remember is that people with difficult to pronounce names are used to having their names butchered. They rarely get offended if you make a mistake. Our analysts with simple names are referred to by name more often than our analysts with more difficult names. Hotel employees are just not comfortable with using difficult names. The only way to improve that is with repetition. Keep practicing!

    The other key to using guest names properly is to remain consistent when you use the name. Our advice is to use the name once as soon as you learn the name and once again to close the conversation. For valet attendants, they will ask for the name and write it on the ticket. They should then immediately use it in conversation such as ‘do you need help with your luggage, Mr. Smith’. Then they will use it again once more to close the conversation with ‘enjoy your stay with use, Mr. Smith’.

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