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PORTER: Snappy customer greeting first sign of great service

Joe’s Ice Cream Shop. Great Sports, this is Tom. Security Bank, how can I help you?

During our days, how often do we hear vanilla greetings like those above? If you are like me, you probably find this a lot if you deal with a customer-facing business deciding whether to become a customer or not.

Problem is, they all sound much the same. And most do not sound to me like they are particularly interested in my business. What do you think?

Now consider the following customer greeting that world famous customer service hotel chain Ritz-Carlton established some time ago if you called one of their hotels:

“Good Morning! This is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. To whom may I direct your call?”

And when you responded:

“My pleasure.”’

The first time I called Ritz-Carlton and experienced their unique — at the time — customer greeting, I was really impressed and knew I was in for something different from other hotels when I visited them. I was not disappointed and still consider their service to be world class in every way.

Today, although we all continue to look at businesses online more than ever in our journey to becoming a customer, we still find that we often need to speak to someone live.

It is my contention that your customer greeting speaks volumes about the business that lies behind it. And in this moment of truth, businesses may have just one chance to convince a potential customer to either buy from them or move on to their competitor.

My recommendation to your business is that you change your customer greeting today! Below are some tips to developing a greeting that will announce a great service journey, not just the name of your business.

First, use a snappy opening greeting with a welcome tone.

Although an energetic employee with a great voice is helpful in uttering an enthusiastic first few words of a phone greeting, others can be successfully coached in this. And something as subtle as putting the accent on “morning” in the opener, “good morning,” can make a big difference to what customers hear in your voice. Using the time of day — morning, afternoon, evening — in those first few words is something customers appreciate.

Second, respectfully ask how you can meet the customer request.

An existing or potential customer may call for any number of reasons — service, reservations, a specific person or something else.

Asking a customer what you can do for them or a person in the business that you can direct them to demonstrates respect for the customer’s time plus a willingness to be helpful.

Finally, close or end the greeting on a courteous note.

Although you may not be comfortable with a “my pleasure,” try “great talking with you” or “have a great day” to end your conversation. But most importantly, you must have an ending. It provides a crisp close to that first experience a customer has with your business.

In summary, in order to develop a professional customer greeting that customers will appreciate and remember, always follow these three important steps:

First, use an enthusiastic opening greeting like “Good morning!”

Second, ask the customer how you can direct the call.

Finally, close the call with a sincere courtesy.

Although the customer greeting seems insignificant sometimes, it can make a world of difference in the service journey your customers travel plus the ultimate financial success of your business.

 

William Porter has published books on customer experience and employee engagement and speaks regularly at business schools. Contact him at bpwilliamaporter@gmail.com.

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