A positive first impression is one of the most crucial factors in the successful delivery of spectacular customer service for callers to any organization. The telephone greeting symbolizes the inception of the customer service delivery cycle. The fact that many organizations do not recognize this is alarming. The general practice is to focus the setting of standards on the employees who operate the designated phone bound contact points. The oversight here is customers will call any number they can find to an organization that they need to come in contact with. One factor you will surely recognize when involved in service delivery is that very rarely will you find customers acting predictably or obediently in any particular contact situation.

If your organization already has policy and everyone is practicing a standard greeting to any phone call coming in, that’s absolutely fantastic but is it a well thought out and well constructed statement? Do you find employees lamenting the standard greeting that its too long or phony sounding?

There are essentially three areas that an organization should focus on when developing a standard greeting to deliver that powerful first impression when answering the phone.

Delightful

Is your standard greeting able to convey an ambiance of delight? It is an unquestionable fact in the study of communication that human beings have a tendency to mirror an emotion in the preliminary moments when presented to them. Sound cheerful and chances are the caller will reciprocate the same. Sound irritated and the caller will be taken aback for a moment and the tone is set for a horrible call.

Delight is an emotion that requires an individual to evoke in them in order to convey this feeling across. The first thing to consider is establishing a mindset that the employee has to be in prior to delivering the greeting. Establish that prior to picking up that phone on the third ring, an individual needs to take a breath, prepare themselves mentally, sit upright and smile.

Truthful

Tempting as it may be, beginning a greeting with “A happy morning to you, thank you for calling ABC. How may I help you?” is a sure fire way to trigger a laugh on the other end or worse still rub the caller whose had a very bad day the wrong way. Be honest with the scripting of your greeting.

A standard “Thank you for calling ABC, this is John Doe speaking. How may I help you?” spoken with enthusiasm and clarity carries a lot more weight. The concise and direct approach is always recommended and will be appreciated by the caller since they will prefer to get straight to the reason they are calling anyway.
Smile

The final and most essential element to a successful standard greeting is also one of the most difficult to require employees to adopt. The mere mention of the need to smile when answering the phone will bring about objections from employees. The simplicity of this act is often not given the respect that it deserves. The smile when used during telephony communications has more of a mental effect rather than a physical one. Ensure everyone understands that when you establish that a smile is needed in the standard greeting, it is more a state of mind you are looking to achieve, not grinning like painted on lips like a clown. The mere act of an individual thinking of a smile when answering the phone will dictate the entire mindset and possibly the outcome of a contact.

The next time you call any business, look out for these elements and you shall discover firsthand how these elements when utilized can create such an overwhelming positive first impression can turn you into a customer for life.

Ken Ng
CEO/Senior Managing Consultant