Imagine that you’ve just bought a pricey product that is not working as expected. After a few tries to make it work, you give up and decide to call support. While you may be a tad frustrated at this point, this is not real aggravation. At least not yet.
Now, the phone is picked up by an agent who completely lacks enthusiasm and uses a bored tone that makes you somehow wonder if you’ve interrupted their Netflix marathon or something.
Still excited? Probably not.
Now picture that, instead, you get connected to someone who has a friendly, positive attitude and is ready to help. If you’re like most of us, you’d immediately forget about your frustration and go back to thinking positively about the company, and possibly the product itself too.
Choosing the best-fit customer service greeting can make or break your customer experience. Read on to learn how to get it right and get some useful examples to use in your case.
The 6 rules for a great customer service greeting
Based on surveys and our own customer service experience at VCC Live, we collected some guidelines to help you come up with greetings that fit your company best. You can put them in your agents’ script to create the best first impression while saving your overwhelmed agents from decision fatigue.
1. Words aren’t enough
Without knowing what the first agent said in the situation above, you most likely felt repelled.
You can compose a killer customer service greeting phrase, but it’s useless if said with the wrong tone and intention. Friendly words combined with a grumpy tone is anything but authentic.
According to a study conducted by the Temkin group, emotion has greater impact on customer loyalty than the outcome of the call. They found that 86% of customers would purchase from a company again when customer support evoked the right emotions.
In other words, your customers judge your company based on how appreciated they feel.
Understand your clients’ pain, frustration, the time they’ve wasted, and treat them accordingly. Make them feel welcome and listen to them with an open mind.
2. Time is precious – skip the company intro
These days, most customer services take the customer to an IVR menu first where a pre-recorded voice informs them about the company they called. Why would your agents repeat the same message, wasting your clients’ time before they can get to the point?
Instead, acknowledge the long wait and start with a simple “Thank you for waiting.”
3. Make it personal
Avoid sounding robotic and scripted. Offer a few variations for your agents, depending on their personalities, the time of the day and other situations.
Based on the survey results, most customers preferred to be greeted with “Good morning/good afternoon” rather than “Welcome to XY”, a greeting that most of us don’t use in person.
Don’t cross any lines by being overly friendly, but you can start with a “How is your day going?”. Not everyone likes this, but often it will brighten your clients’ day.
4. Don’t be too formal
Business casual is the new norm – formal, corporate language tends to create distance. Your customers might find it harder to trust you if you sound overly stiff.
According to the survey results, most customers preferred to be greeted with “Hi” over “Hello”, and using language like “How can I help you?” was more popular than “How may I help you?”.
Casual doesn’t equal disrespectful or unprofessional. It simply means creating closer connections with your clients.
Please note: While casual language is now preferred in many countries and industries, your culture might be different. If your customers insist on talking in a formal way, don’t force this.
5. Use pronouns
Pronouns like ‘you, I, your, my’ can help establish a personal connection. These are powerful words on our subconscious, creating more involvement on both sides.
The customer feels more seen hearing the ‘you, your’ pronouns, and trust that the agent will treat their case with priority when they attach themselves to it with the ‘I, my‘ pronouns.
The easiest way to do this is adding ‘How can I help you?’ or ‘What can I do for you today?’ to your introduction.
6. Remember to add names
Over 94% of customers agreed that the agent should always introduce themselves. This is another effective way to build rapport, trust, and keep things more personal.
Is the caller not in your database yet? Ask for their name too! Not only does it make administration easier, but you can use their names during the conversation.
The next time they reach out, your agents can call them by their name before they introduce themselves. What a great way to show your clients how much they matter!
Some examples for great customer service greeting phrases
Based on the time of the day, the level of formality expected and some special circumstances, these phrases can be a good starting point for your agents.
Call centers of banks, healthcare providers or insurance companies often address customers in a formal manner. For them, these phrases can be helpful:
- Hello Sir, this is [agent name] from [company name]. How may I help you today?
- Good morning Madam, thank you for calling [company name]. My name is [agent name]. How may I assist you?
If your company’s target audience consists of younger generations and/or your messaging across all platforms is generally friendly and informal, you can try these greetings in your call center:
- Hi [customer name], thanks for calling. How can I help you today?
- Hi [customer name], hope you’re having a great day. What can I do for you?
- Thanks for calling [company name]. I’m [agent name], how can I help?
- Hi, thank you for calling us. How are you today?
Greetings based on the time of the day
Not sure which level of formality would be appropriate for your callers? You can always opt for a neutral tone and greet them based on the time of the day.
- Good morning, this is [agent name] speaking. How can I help you today?
- Good afternoon, I’m [agent name] from [company name]. How can I assist you?
- Good evening, this is [agent name] from [company name]’s customer service department. What can I help you with?
Greetings when wait times are longer
Be sure to acknowledge the issue without escalating the situation. Instead of apologizing for the inconvenience, thank the caller to start off on a positive note.
- Good morning, this is [agent name]. Thank you very much for your patience. How can I help you today?
- Hello [customer name], this is [agent name]. Thank you very much for waiting. I’m here to help.
- Hi [customer name], I understand you’ve had quite a long wait before getting connected, thank you for being patient. I’m ready to assist you; tell me how I can help you today.
Inbound IVR greetings
You can take inspiration from the greetings mentioned above and incorporate them in your IVR menu as well. Here are some examples for formal and informal IVR greetings as well as some messages for people waiting in the queue or calling outside of business hours.
- Thank you for calling [company name]. For customer service, please press 1. For sales inquiries, please press 2. If you’d like to be connected to an agent, please press 0 or stay on the line.
- Thanks for calling [company name]. Let’s place your call to the right place. If you’d like to place an order, press 1. If you’d like an update on an existing order, press 2. Looking for something else? Stay on the line or press 0 to talk to an agent.
- Welcome to [company name]. All lines are busy at the moment and the current wait time is [number] minutes. Please, stay on the line to talk to an agent or press 1 to request a callback.
- You have reached [company name]. Currently, all our lines are occupied. Your current position in the queue is [number] and your current hold time is approximately [number] minutes. Please hold, we’ll be with you shortly.
- Thank you for calling [company name]. Our offices are currently closed, but you can visit our website at [website URL] for more information. To talk to an agent, please call us Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM. Have a great day. Goodbye!
- Happy [holiday name]! You have reached [company name]. Our offices are currently closed. We will reopen on [date] with our standard business hours from 9 AM to 6 PM. For general inquiries, visit our website at [website URL] or send us an email to [email address]. Goodbye!
Let your agents create their own customer service greeting
The greetings we listed in this article will help you get started, but be sure to finetune them as you go.
Involve your agents in the process too – they might know your customers better than anyone else at your company.
The most authentic, genuine customer service greetings are the ones that match your agents’ personalities, and in turn, they will feel more comfortable about picking up the phone.