How to Develop the Perfect Phone Greeting

One chance.

That's how many opportunities you get to make a first impression. When you serve customers over the phone, that one chance is your phone greeting.

How does your greeting sound? 

A warm and friendly greeting can start the call off right. It can give your caller the confidence that you will help them. They may not even realize that your enthusiasm makes them feel better.

The wrong greeting can do the opposite. The caller will suspect they're in for yet another service failure from a lackluster service representative. (You don't want to be that person, do you?)

People discount the importance of practicing your greeting. I disagree. Developing a good greeting is essential to outstanding customer service.

Here’s how to do it.

A smiling call center agent greets a customer.

Step 1: Decide What to Say

A perfect phone greeting consists of three simple elements:

  • Salutation: “Good morning,” Thank you for calling,” “Hello,” etc.

  • Your Name

  • Offer of assistance: “How may I help you?” etc.

Don’t be afraid to try different salutations or offer assistance in different ways. This can help keep your greeting fresh and sincere, whether it’s the first call of the day or your 50th.

The specific words you use don’t matter as much as how you deliver them.

A greeting should convey warmth, friendliness, and confidence. It should let the other person know you’re there for them and happy to help.

Some companies saddle their employees with clunky, scripted greetings. I’m not a fan! But if you must greet your customers a certain way, you can still use the next two steps.

Step 2: Mind Your Body Language

Our body language has a big impact on how we deliver a phone greeting. Your tone of voice will exude more warmth when you smile, sit up straight, and focus your attention.

Try to imagine the caller is sitting right in front of you rather than talking to you on the phone. This makes it easier to remember to use positive body language.

For example, of the two photos below, who would you want to talk to?

Smiling, friendly employee.
Upset, scowling employee.

Some people place a small mirror at their desk so they can themselves talk on the phone. The mirror helps them remember to smile. If you aren’t sure if this technique will work for you, why not it out and see?

Step 3: Tune Out Distractions

Distractions cane make it much more difficult to deliver our best greeting. Take a breath and focus your attention on the incoming call before answering.

Here are a few common distractions that get in the way of a perfect greeting:

  • Trying to finish up an email as you answer the phone.

  • Loud conversations from coworkers sitting near you.

  • Pop-up windows and other notifications on your computer screen.

Fatigue is one of the biggest distractions. Research shows that customer satisfaction is at its lowest in the afternoon, when many people are nearing the end of their shift.

A Perfect Phone Greeting Example

This short video will show you examples of all these principles in action.

This video is part of the Phone-Based Customer Service course on LinkedIn Learning. There are three ways to access the entire course:

Phone Skills Workout: Practice Your Greeting

Now that you’ve worked out what to say, how to say it, and how to stay focused, it’s time to do a little practice. Use the recording feature on your smart phone to record yourself delivering your best greeting. Evaluate yourself with three questions:

  • Did your greeting include the three elements (salutation, name, offer of assistance)?

  • Did your tone sound warm and friendly?

  • Did your greeting inspire confidence?

Try practicing a few times until you feel really good about what you hear. Then implement your perfect greeting with your next customer.