How your employees answer the phones at work is important on a variety of levels.
For potential customers, your company’s greeting makes a first impression, setting the tone for the entire conversation. New callers may be in the process of deciding whether or not to do business with you, while familiar callers may be looking for that intangible comfort factor that comes from dealing with a company they trust. Being the recipient of a pleasant greeting puts the caller at ease and sets the stage for a continued business relationship.
On the other hand, unhappy customers will be making an instant decision about how competent and helpful your employees are. Clearly, your business phone greeting carries a lot of weight, so you should ensure that your employees use an appropriate greeting when they answer the phone. Here are 6 best practices for your business phone greeting.
1. Make sure your business’s phone greeting has these four basic elements:
- A brief salutation
- The company name
- The name of the person answering
- An offer of assistance
An example of a greeting with these four elements would be, “Good morning, XYZ Limited. This is Kelly, how may I help you?” This greeting includes the information the caller needs to ensure he or she called the right place. Additionally, stating your name is important because it shows that you are accountable and creates a personal connection. By asking how you can help the caller, you invite the caller to tell you the reason they’re calling.
2. Your business phone greeting should be pleasant. Callers pick up the attitude of the person who answers their call. When employees answer the phone pleasantly, it’s more likely the caller will be pleasant too. One of the easiest ways to ensure a pleasant greeting is by adjusting body language when the phone rings. If you get into the habit of sitting up straight, pulling your shoulders back, smiling, and taking a deep breath before answering, a pleasant greeting becomes automatic.
Conversely, if you sit slumped over, frowning, you’ll probably come across as depressed or indifferent when you answer the phone. Callers can’t see your body language, but they can certainly hear it in the way you answer your phone.
3. Your phone greeting should be brief. It’s hard to sound genuine when you have to reel off an excessively long greeting before getting around to the business at hand. Plus, callers don’t like long-winded greetings because they waste time. It is not a good idea to introduce elements into your phone greeting that result in lost time. For example, “How are you today?” can make a caller forget why they’re calling or worse, prompt irate callers to launch into an angry tirade.
4. The greeting should be sincere. As Conrad Birdie sang in Bye Bye Birdie, “If what you feel is true, you really feel it, you make them feel it too.” Scripted greetings make it hard to be sincere, and sometimes make the person answering the call sound irritated. A natural sounding greeting that can be altered a bit for each employee is the best way to ensure that greetings come across as sincere. A single scripted greeting may sound overwrought coming from a more outgoing employee, or wooden and fake coming from a more reserved employee. It’s best to have a few variations on your business phone greeting so that employees can match the greeting they use to their personality.
5. You greeting must be appropriate. The phone greeting at an investment law firm will naturally be different from the phone greeting at a surfboard shop. Ask yourself what type of person will be calling and what image you want your business to convey. Keep the greeting polite and friendly and avoid crossing lines that may offend callers.
6. Make your business phone greeting responsive. Do you typically answer calls from callers who want information about your products and services? A slightly laid-back attitude lets them know you’re not too busy to answer their questions. Do you answer emergency calls? Don’t waste time with too many pleasantries: just get to the point politely.
Finally, don’t forget that how you end calls leaves a lasting impression on the caller about how the call went. Asking, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” before terminating a call shows you are conscientious and want to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Furthermore, if the caller remembers something he or she wanted to bring up, it can eliminate the need for a repeat call, saving both parties time. When you’re sure the conversation has wrapped up, you can end it pleasantly with something like, “Thank you for calling, Ms. Jones, and feel free to call back if I can be of further assistance.”