Talk about first impressions; telephone greetings are critical. Prospects are deciding whether or not 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 that employees hate saying it and customers and prospects dread listening to it.
When it comes to phone greetings, there is power in simplicity. For best results, incorporate three easy elements into your business phone greetings: pleasantry, brevity, and sincerity.
1. Be Pleasant
A pleasant phone greeting is essential to a successful call because it sets the stage emotionally. In general, listeners tend to mirror or “catch” the emotional states of speakers. This is a principle of communication that holds true whether one is speaking to a group of 1000, a small meeting of 10, or a single customer over the telephone.
In other words, people respond in kind. 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.
2. Be Sincere
No scripts. I am against scripting phone 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.”
Now I don’t care where you work. It can’t be that good all day. At some point saying, “It’s a beautiful day…” is going to be a stretch or insincere.
You want the greeting to be natural, which also makes it easier to sound pleasant consistently.
The key elements of a telephone greeting are your department or company name, your name, and an offer of assistance.
State the company 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 your business phone greeting with a question that expresses your desire to serve the caller.
3. Be Brief
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. Fortunately, by following the guidelines above brevity is assured.
Telephone greetings are a powerful part of doing business. To be successful, keep phone greetings simple. Practice a ritual to be pleasant. Remain unscripted. Be brief.