A Perfect Answer

By Peter DeHaan, PhD

How often have you called someplace and wondered if you reached the right number? All too often, calls are answered hurriedly, haphazardly, or incompletely. Or perhaps the agent seems out of breath by the time they complete a lengthy, tongue-twisting answer. It is vital that all calls be consistently answered in the same way, regardless of location or agent.  Here are three parts of the ideal way to do so:

Greeting: The greeting serves to set a positive tone for the call. It is simply “Good morning,” Good afternoon,” or “Good evening.” The greeting tells the caller that the phone has been answered — and that it is time for them to listen! These words signal that it is time for the caller to listen, but it is not critical if they are missed.

Company Identity: This is simply the name of your organization or client, such as, “Acme Call Center.” It lets callers know who they’ve reached, confirming that their call has gone through correctly. Say the company name as it would be used by and most familiar to those outside the organization. Therefore, drop legal suffixes, such an Inc, LLC, and Ltd.  Also, avoid abbreviate the company name; saying “ACC” when everyone knows you as “Acme Call Center” will only cause confusion.

Agent Identity: The final element is your first name. It adds a valuable personal touch. It is much easier for a caller to get mad at an anonymous voice, than an identifiable person. Using your name allows you to build a rapport and establish a track record with the caller. As the last word of the answer phrase, it is also the one most easily remembered by the caller. Omitting your name implies an avoidance of personal involvement; ending with your name, signals confidence and competence, which are critical in problem solving and customer service situations.

Avoid Unnecessary Addendums: It is all too common for people to tack on the inane phrase, “How may I direct your call?” A direct response to this senseless question would be “quickly and accurately.” This is a waste of time.

Putting these elements together, results in the perfect answer: “Good morning, Acme Call Center, this is Peter.”

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

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