Tips for Improving Your Customer Service Greetings & Phrases

Businessman Talking on the Phone

The success of your business is intrinsically linked to customer satisfaction levels. Low rates of satisfaction make for poor retention and loyalty from customers. Low satisfaction is also sometimes a sign of bad customer service. Customer service greetings are more powerful than you might realize as they determine how well every interaction begins. With the right foot forward, you can transform your business’s customer experience entirely. Try these tips on for size:

Address Customers By Name

There are a million customer service phrases to choose from when picking up the phone. Too often, these phrases come across as forced, tired, and overdone. If you’re hoping to truly win over customers as you answer the phone, consider greeting them by name. This friendly approach feels less forced than other types of greetings – plus, we love the sound of our own names. As Dale Carnegie once wrote in his famous book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” “names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Of course, it’s important not to make assumptions about a person’s name based solely on what shows up on the caller ID screen. Instead, start each conversation by introducing yourself and asking about the caller’s name. This simple question can establish a natural rapport with callers. Plus, giving them your name humanizes the interaction and is helpful for customers should they need to call back and speak with you again. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to ensure you’re greeting customers the right way!

Don’t Underestimate the Power of “Thank You”

Your callers have no shortage of service providers from which to choose. In an increasingly globalized economy, consumers can do business with people halfway around the world – or right down the street. That’s why it’s important to answer every phone call you take with gratitude. No matter what the person on the other end might have to say, greeting customers should always involve some kind of thank you.

Some customer service greetings that start off with a thank you are great, while others sound forced. “Thank you for calling,” for instance, can get lost in the shuffle if you don’t say it right up front as callers prepare to launch into their question or concern. As an alternative, wait to thank callers for their question after they’ve asked. This way, your gratitude won’t be overlooked.

You can also express gratitude when a problem arises. Rather than simply apologizing for a mistake, try saying “thank you for bringing this to my attention.” Think this strategy is too simple to be truly effective? The opposite is actually true: customer service words and phrases should be short and to the point, not bogged down by jargon or overly complicated language.

Be Careful When Referencing the Time of Day

There are a number of choices to make when greeting customers. From your tone of voice to the phrasing you’ll use, there are endless opportunities to craft customer service words that mirror your company’s philosophies. While you might be tempted to start with a “good morning,” references to the time of day may be more of a hindrance than a help. Mentioning the time can trip up even the most savvy of employees. If you want to reference time of day, only do so if locals are the overwhelming majority of your customers. If your company serves clients on a regional, national, or even international level, leave time of day out, because you don’t know when a caller is dialing in from another time zone.

By streamlining communication, you ensure your language is inclusive and applicable to all customers. Punch up traditional call phrases all you’d like, but skip references to the time of day unless you’ve got a foolproof way to nail it every time like we have here at MAP Communications.

Skip the “How are You?”

Greeting a customer with a friendly “how are you?” was once the gold standard of customer service communication. Now, customers want to be greeted in a way that respects their privacy. Not everyone will be having a great day every time you ask. Positive words for customer service should go beyond traditional conversational expectations to deliver greetings that feel upbeat, respectful, and above all else, professional.

So what should you say in lieu of a traditional “how are you?” Phrases like “how can I help you,” “what brings you in?” and “is there something I can help with?” all encourage customers to engage without pushing them out of their comfort zone. Support customers with genuine interest and the rest of the conversation will fall into place naturally.

Put a Smile On Your Face

Did you know smiling impacts your vocal tone? People who smile as they talk come off more positive and friendly. You can have the most effective customer service greetings in the world lined up, but if you don’t smile while you’re saying them, they just won’t land.

When you’re providing customer service over the phone, you can’t rely on body language to communicate the way you might in person. Instead, you must project a helpful, polite presence solely through your voice and language.

Of course, when you’re distracted by a million other things happening in the office, it can be hard to put on a genuinely happy face. It’s why many businesses opt to outsource their inbound call handling to a professional call center service.

Prioritize Enunciation

In our personal lives, we often speak without thinking. Words tumble from our mouths at whatever speed feels most comfortable. When speaking excitedly with friends, a rapid-fire pace feels natural and fun. When we’re on the phone with customers, though, that same pace can feel overwhelming. That’s especially true if we’re speaking with someone for the first time, or speaking with a person whose first language isn’t English.

Positive words for customer service won’t matter if the person on the other end of the line can’t understand you. Rather than speaking at a breakneck pace, slow down and prioritize enunciation. While you might be eager to handle incoming calls as quickly as possible, a little extra effort to speak clearly can actually save you time. When callers understand you the first time you say something, there will be no need to double back and clarify your intentions.

Show Recognition

People like to feel like they belong. When you recognize a repeat customer, simply acknowledging their return can usher in warm feelings of belonging. Comments like “it’s nice to hear from you again,” or “we’re happy to have you back” are excellent options when you don’t know the person by name.

For regular customers, make an effort to learn their names. This helps them know that you value their repeat business and want them in your community. Whenever possible, ask about previous purchases or services and see how they’re working for the customer. Customer service greetings can be as personal and unique as the customers themselves!

Admit Your Limitations

Hard as you might try, it’s impossible to solve every problem for every person who calls you up. When this happens, you might find yourself at a loss for words. Positive words for customer service can sometimes fall short when you can’t deliver on expectations. The next time you find yourself in this conundrum, try using the phrase “as much as I’d love to help…” It’s a polite way to say no without flat out refusing to try. This kind, firm response lets the caller know you’d help if you could, but can’t.

Don’t want to give up on a caller question just yet? Try saying “I don’t know for sure, but let me find out.” This allows you to admit your limitations while reassuring the caller that you can indeed find a solution. Honesty is the best policy, and customer service statements should always be rooted in transparency first and foremost.

Know Your Exit Line in Advance

While you’re focused on greeting customers, it’s equally important to have an exit line in mind. With your goodbye at the ready, you’ll be prepared for any twists or turns the conversation might take. Interactions with customers should feel natural, like any other conversation you’d have in your day. While knowing your exit line in advance might not feel like the most natural habit, it actually ensures you have a go-to phrase in your pocket should conversation wrap up sooner than you expected.

A solid goodbye also lets customers know you’re there to answer questions and clarify any policies they might be confused by. Sincerely thank your customer for calling or stopping by, then work in your company’s name. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to customer service phone tips phrases – a simple “thank you for calling x” goes a long way in creating a lasting impression.

Curating Customer Experiences, One Call at a Time

Customer service phrases are a dime a dozen. As Maya Angelou once wrote, “They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.” By prioritizing empathy and professionalism in each call, you’re sure to delight customers and inspire them to return time and time again.

At MAP Communications, we’ve been perfecting the art of the customer experience for three decades. If you’re eager to improve on your organization’s customer service, we can help. In fact, we’re offering a free trial of our live answering service right now. Sign up today for a full week of MAP services.

Here are some related articles you might be interested in:

How to Improve Customer Experiences with Call Answering Services

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6 Customer Service Skills Every Successful Call Center Agent Should Have