18 great (and 2 awful!) business telephone greetings

Call centre workerphoto © 2007 Alan Clark | more info (via: Wylio)Hello? Who would have ever believed that answering a phone could be such a big deal? It’s only a sentence or two at the start, and then it’s forgotten, right? Hello??

Not really. Truth is, while all the attention that some companies give to their greetings may seem mysterious or silly, those first few seconds of a call can do a lot to establish a cooperative feel, reduce stress, and improve efficiencies. The sooner you can fix anyone’s problem — without rushing the customer! —  the less likely your call center staff will be to spend time defusing angry customers, and the less likely you’ll be to lose revenue.

So, given the value that your preparations will generate, let’s review the basics, and then offer some actual suggestions for your telephone greeting.

Telephone Greeting Rule #1: Be appropriate.

What type of person will be calling? What is the image you want your company to portray? To summarize all those points, some companies are known for a fun or edgy personality, while others focus on more sedate or reserved clients. Most companies though will care for people with a wide range of personalities. The general rule of thumb is to lean toward being fresh and friendly, but to avoid crossing any lines that might result in offended or slighted callers. If you can create a smile at the start of an encounter, that has to be positive. However, a greeting that seems frivolous to someone frustrated with your company will do little to make them feel more conciliatory.

Telephone Greeting Rule #2: Be responsive.

What is the actual situation in which people will be calling? No matter what the personality of your callers though, if you’re handling emergency situations, don’t waste time being clever or even polite. Be there to care. That’s why the common 911 greeting of “Fire, police, or ambulance?” is a perfect one.

Telephone Greeting Rule #3: Be sincere.

What is the personality of your call center agents? This rule is often overlooked by companies as they plan their corporate phone greetings. Everyone is different, and even among call center professionals you’ll find some who are outgoing and cheerful, while others are more naturally reserved. Forcing agents to start a call by saying something outside their comfort zone will result in greetings that sound wooden or fake instead of fun and sincere. We recommend you have a few slight variations of your prescribed greeting, and let each agent use whichever feels best for his or her mood for each call.

Telephone Greeting Rule #4: Be efficient.

As much as you want to establish a friendly rapport, don’t introduce elements that will result in any lost time. Never include questions such as, “How are you today?” They not only waste time, they may sometime even cause some callers to forget the details of why they’re calling. Even worse, they may anger callers who are already on the edge or skeptical of whether or not your company is sensitive to their needs. You may just invite responses like, “I’m terrible, thanks to you guys!” Establish personality, but keep things focused.

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So with the rules covered, let’s look at some actual examples of greetings to consider for your company. The first five are very straightforward calls that identify you and your agent, and invite input from the caller. You would of course change the agent’s and company’s name to yours, but other than that, these can be used as is. You may find it best though to use these as a starting point, adapting the ones you like most to fit the nuances of your caller, agent, company, and situation.

  1. Hello, this is Natalie. Thanks for calling Tacamor. How may I help you?
  2. Hello, this is Natalie. Thanks for calling Tacamor. How may I direct your call?
  3. Hi, I’m Natalie. Thanks for calling Tacamor. How may I help you?
  4. Hi, I’m Natalie at Tacamor. How may I help you?
  5. You’ve reached Natalie at Tacamor. How may I help you?

If you want to show a bit more personality, and it doesn’t contradict your company’s image or caller’s preferences, feel free to loosen things up a bit with one of these six greetings. Just changing a “Hello” to a “Hey!” can immediately make a company sound a bit more friendly or relaxed. Not necessarily what you’d choose for a funeral home, but for a family restaurant or retailer, this might be ideal.

  1. Hey, it’s Natalie at Tacamor! How may I help you?
  2. Hey there! It’s Natalie at Tacamor! How may I help you?
  3. This is Tacamor and I’m Natalie! How may I help?
  4. Tacamor Call Centers! I’m Natalie. How may I help?
  5. Hello from Tacamor! I’m Natalie. How may I help?
  6. Thanks for calling Tacamor! I’m Natalie. How may I help?

While customer support lines may potentially handle a very wide range of situations, if you’re operating a technical support line, your calls will usually be considerably more focused. That means your greeting can be as well, and should be. Consider something along these lines:

  1. Tacamor technical support line. I’m Natalie. What do you need?
  2. Tacamor tech support line. Sorry you’re having trouble. I’m Natalie. How can I help?

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With an adjustment or two here and there. the examples presented so far should serve virtually any company well. Some companies though like to stand out as being completely different. They look for any way they can to shout out their personalities loud and clear, and the telephone greeting is an excellent way for them to do exactly that. So let’s take a look at greetings that deliver an edge — and two that fall right off that edge! — take a look at the next page

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