Phonetic Alphabet

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Get it right the first time

The phonetic alphabet or the spelling alphabet will show your customers that you want to get it right for them.

Unless you have the latest technology, some letters sound very similar over the telephone for example "F" and "S" and "B" AND "P".

If you don't check key details you can misspell critical words, such as the customer's name, address or here in the UK their postal code which is often used to locate customers.

We come across lots of examples where the wrong information has been sent out or has not been received because information hasn't been checked.

Errors have a cost

Imagine the cost of sending an engineer out in the middle of the night to the wrong site because their out of hours outsourced call center didn't check the post, zip code properly and the engineer went to a site 200 miles from where the equipment had broken down.

It's not good for customer service and it costs the business or organisation money, at worst in righting mistakes or at best in duplicate phone calls.

Using a phonetic alphabet to check details shows that you

  • pay attention to detail
  • know your stuff and are professional ( I have heard someone say "n for knickers" )
  • want to get it right first time with all the benefits that brings

These approaches reassure the customer and an expression of interest improves their overall experience, and exhibits to the customer a desire for accuracy.


checking details using the phonetic alphabet will make sure that you

  • get the details right so you get the call right first time´╗┐´╗┐
  • spell difficult names which will help you pronounce them
  • get email addresses correct first time, so that they don't bounce back or you have to call to clarify
  • take down post codes correctly ( UK postcodes are a mixture of letters and numbers )You'll find that you will minimise mistakes, which is good for business, good for customers and good for minimising credits and maximising cash flow.

Accuracy Matter

NATO Alphabet UK

  • A Alpha
  • B Bravo 
  • C Charlie 
  • D Delta
  • E Echo
  • F Foxtrot
  • G Golf
  • H Hotel
  • I India / Indigo 
  • J Juliet
  • K Kilo
  • L Lima
  • M Mike
  • N November
  • O Oscar
  • P Papa
  • Q Quebec
  • R Romeo
  • S Sierra
  • T Tango
  • U Uniform
  • V Victor
  • W Whisky
  • X X-Ray
  • Y Yankee
  • Z Zulu

US Phonetic Alphabet

In the US, the formal NATO Alphabet doesn't tend to be used, and people use peoples' names or common words to check for accuracy when taking down key information.

Get it right first tim

New York Police Dept. Phonetic Alphabet

A Adam
B Boy
C Charlie
D David
E Edward
F Frank
G George
H Henry
I Ida
J John
K King
L Lincoln
M Mary
N Nora
O Ocean
P Peter
Q Queen
R Robert
S Sam
T Tom
U Union
V Victor
W William
X X-Ray
Y Young
Z Zebra

And the Western Union use cities and names to ensure accuracy during a telephone call

A Adams
B Boston
C Chicago
D Denver
E Easy
F Frank
G George
H Henry
I Ida
J John
K King
L Lincoln
M Mary
N New York
O Ocean
P Peter
Q Queen
R Roger
S Sugar
T Thomas
U Union
V Victor
W William
X X-Ray
Y Young
Z Zebra

Training ideas

In training sessions, spell out instructions such as Bravo Romeo Echo Alpha Kilo or Lincoln Union Nora Charlie Henry

Get people to learn to spell their own names, where they live, their favorite holiday destination. Make these exercises fun and pacy. Give prizes for those who can do this quickly and without hesitation

This can be used as an energizer as well.

There are more ideas for customer service training exercises here

Find more customer service training ideas by clicking on the links below

Customer Service Training News

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