Three Easy Steps to Success
Talk about first impressions; telephone greetings are critical. Prospects are deciding whether to do business with you. Irate customers are deciding how helpful and competent you are. Yet many companies convolute the telephone greeting to the point employees hate saying it and customers dread listening to it. There is power in simplicity. For best results, incorporate three easy elements: pleasantry, brevity and sincerity.
A pleasant greeting is essential to a successful call because it sets the stage emotionally. In general, listeners tend to mirror or “catch” the emotional state of the speaker. If we answer the phone gruffly, chances are the caller will become gruff. If we answer the phone pleasantly, chances are the caller will be pleasant and we all know which caller is easier to work with.
I recommend professionals establish a ritual before answering the phone. In order to sound pleasant, pull shoulders back, take a deep breath, smile, let the phone ring twice, then answer. I never answer my phone unless I’ve gone through my ritual. My business is too important. Stand on your head. Do jumping jacks. Do whatever is necessary to attain a pleasant state before answering the phone.
No scripts. I am against scripting greetings because they sound insincere, irritate callers and discourage employees. Scripted greetings usually include some kind of slogan. “Hello. It’s a beautiful day here at the XYZ Company.” It can’t be that good all day. An employee from a furniture company confided to me that she hated answering the phone, “It’s a beautiful day…” because irate callers would snap back, “Well it’s not a beautiful day where I am and get over here and fix this thing!” Is it any wonder employees and customers hate scripted greetings?
You want the greeting to be natural, which also makes it easier to sound pleasant consistently. The key elements of a telephone greeting are: department or store name, your name, an offer of assistance. An example of a greeting might sound like this, “XYZ Company, this is Barbara. How may I direct your call”?
State the store or department name so that customers and prospects know they are in the right place. Always state your name because it is a sign of authority. Stating your name implies that you are accountable. It also creates a personal touch. Lastly, end with a question that expresses your desire to serve the caller.
Keep it short. I have heard telephone greetings that are so long, I feared the person answering the phone was going to hyperventilate and go into cardiac arrest trying to get it out in one breath. Excessively long greetings are unprofessional for many reasons. They don’t sound pleasant or sincere because technically they are impossible to execute. Employees hate them and those feelings come through. Callers hate them because they waste their time.
Telephone greetings are a powerful part of doing business. To be successful, keep greetings simple. Practice a ritual to be pleasant. Remain unscripted. Be brief.
"Shhhhhhhhhh! When listening, allow a pause of a few seconds before you respond. Often, this will encourage the customer to continue talking, giving you more information about how you can be of service"!