Answering the Phone: 3 Ways to Make Your Company’s Greeting Great

Answer the phone with a great greeting!

Photo by Michael Pujals

First impressions: you never get a second chance to make them, and at Ruby® Receptionists, we’re all about making them great. To our remote receptionists, every telephone answering experience is a chance to show our super-friendly stuff. A company’s greeting plays a key part in making an impeccable impression on a caller, and we love helping new clients craft greetings that wow. Here are three elements that an excellent greeting includes:

1. A greeting. (Duh.) Simply stating your company name isn’t enough. Begin your company’s greeting with “Hello,” or “Thank you for calling,” or, if most of your callers are in the same time zone, try “Good morning/afternoon.” Better yet, combine two or three of these friendly options in your greeting! Welcome your callers with a few friendly words before saying anything else. A little courtesy goes a long way!

2. Your company name. Now, “Hello” is a great way to begin a greeting, but it does not a greeting make. If you’re answering your phones with “Hello,” call a company meeting pronto and nix that nuttiness. A plain “Hello,” is plain confusing to callers, and it’s likely to make them question whether they’ve dialed the correct number. Always state your company name when answering calls. You’d hate to have a potential client hang up on you because they think they’ve misdialed, right?

3. An offer of assistance. “How may I help you?” Ah, what beautiful words. Let your callers know you’re raring to make their day by ending your greeting with a helpful question. “How may I help you today?” and “How may I assist you?” are rock solid. Are you routing calls rather than answering questions? Try “How may I direct your call?” Is there a question you need to ask every caller? Ask it! (“May I have your account number please?”) A helpful question is the ideal end to a great greeting.

Here’s what the finished product looks like: “Good morning! Thank you for calling ABC Company. How may I help you today?” I feel good just reading it. Sure beats the heck out of “Hello”!

How do you greet your callers? What works for you, and what doesn’t? We’d love your feedback!

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18 thoughts on “Answering the Phone: 3 Ways to Make Your Company’s Greeting Great

  1. What about a greeting for a direct line of an executive? All callers expect Pat Doe to answer. Is the company optional? How about: Good afternoon, this is Pat Doe at ABC. Should the exec really add, How may I help you? That sounds a bit like support staff. (Yes, I know even bigwigs are in the customer service business…) Oh, and how to answer when the caller may or may not remember that you have caller ID? It is probably safe to answer as if you didn’t see th name. I am surprised at how many people I know are startled when I say, “Hello, (first name)”

    • That’s a great point, Andy! These tips are geared more for when you answer the main line of your business. Your reasoning is spot-on for when answering a direct line. Greet your caller with a “Hello” or “Good afternoon” and be sure to say your name so that the caller knows they’ve reached the right number. After the caller responds, I like to follow it up with a “How are you?” This friendly opener begins the flow of conversation, much like “How may I help you?” but less formal.

      I agree that it’s probably safer to leave out the caller’s name even if you can see it on the caller ID. It’s expected that each party be able to introduce themselves, so addressing the caller by name before that may make the interaction a tad awkward. And you never know, it could be someone else using that phone!

      Thanks again for commenting! Maybe we should do another blog post on answering direct lines!

  2. Your tips are fabulous. My only comment is that saying “How are you?’ may result in receiving too much information and a waste of time…you do not want to hear about the person’s cataract surgery, etc. Instead, asking ‘How may I help you?’ will get right to the point of the call.

    • Thanks, Vicki! That’s definitely something to keep in mind, especially depending on what types of callers you might have. If you’re in Sales, for example, you might want to end with “How are you?” so as to have a little personal engagement with your potential client. However, if you’re working directly with long-time clients (who might be inclined to over-share), then sticking with “How may I help you?” is an excellent choice.

      Thanks for your input! You might also be interested in my follow up post How to Make a Great Greeting, Part Two: Answering a Direct Line.

  3. I am really getting quick sick of my same line everyday for the past year . Thank you for calling ___. How may i direct your call? i feel i say call too much plus i know two languages so i have a slight accent so i really want to try to use other words that are easier. Can u help me..??

    • Thank you for your comment, Valeria! I think “How may I help you?” would be a great replacement for “How may I direct your call?” It’s a bit shorter, a little easier to say, and it’s a friendly way to start each call. To keep things interesting, you might try adding “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” to the beginning of your greeting now and then, if most of your callers are in the same time zone as you. I hope this helps, and thanks you for checking out our blog!

  4. It’s very educative but I’m wondering is it better to say ”hello good morning thanks for calling ABC” or ”Good morning thanks for calling ABC”

    • Thank you for your question! I’d pick one or the other rather than adding both “hello” and “good morning” to your greeting. Doubling up might make your greeting a bit clunky. One warm salutation per greeting is perfect!

  5. Our company was just purchased by a larger company. We are trying to write a greeting that uses both the new company name and the former name for a transitional phase. Calling the company solely by the old name is inaccurate but using just the new name is scary since many callers haven’t received the “merge” letter notifying them of the change. How would you suggest doing this?

    • Hi Kisha!

      A greeting that uses both names might be best for now, as in “Thank you for calling ABC Company and XYZ Industries. This is Kisha. How may I help you?”

      Then, in a month or two, when everyone is apprised of the name change, you could remove the old company name from your greeting.

      Thank you so much for checking out our blog! I hope this helps!

  6. Hi Phoebe,

    I’m having trouble coming up with a greeting for my company it’s way too long and I am short of breath by the end, Would you mind helping me come up with a new one? Right now I have,

    “Good Morning/Afternoon, Australian Made Campagin, Mhelissa Speaking..”

    • Hi Mhelissa!

      I love “Good morning/afternoon, Australian Made Campagin, Mhelissa speaking” — way to craft a quality greeting! But if it feels a bit long, perhaps try skipping the “Good morning/afternoon” portion of the greeting and/or leaving out your name. What do you think about a greeting like this: “Thank you for calling Australian Made Campaign. How may I help you?

      Thanks for your question, and please let me know if I can do anything else for you!

  7. I’m the receptionist amongst many other things at my office and my mailbox is not only personal, but also the main mailbox for all inbound calls. I’m having issues with the wording of my voicemail to make it both personal, but also let callers know that there message will be directed to the correct person if they are unsure who the message should go to. So far I have ” You have reached the office of Dawn … I’m either on another line or away from my desk. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message and I will return your call as soon as possible.” I need to add something to the end of this so callers know that if I don’t call them the right person will, do you have any suggestions?

    • Hi Dawn! Thank you so much for your question. How about this addition to your voicemail greeting?

      “You have reached the office of Dawn … I’m either on another line or away from my desk. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message and I or another member of our team will return your call as soon as possible.”

      I think this little change might do the trick!

    • Hi, Teresa! Thanks for your comment. Although we have talented front desk receptionists at both of our locations these days, there was a time many years ago when we at Ruby didn’t have a main receptionist to greet guests, either. Instead, because we’re an office full of receptionists, we were all trained to be ready to help our visitors. The first person to see an office guest had the pleasure of welcoming them! I’d recommend doing the same at your office: Develop a basic routine that anyone on staff can follow, like our greet, seat, treat routine (which you can read about here). When everyone on your team feels empowered to greet guests, you’re sure to make a great impression on every visitor!

  8. “How may I direct your call” has all the freshness of “did you find everything ok” at the grocery checkout “how is everything” at a restaurant*, and I wonder why a company doesn’t just get an automated attendant, it would be so much quicker than routing through a switchboard. If routing calls is all a person does, a machine can do it better, and the caller can just press O if they want to speak to the receptionist.

    *The most recent time that this was asked of me, I had received the food just a few seconds earlier and had not even tasted it yet. That is how automated employees are with their scripted customer service.

    • Thank you for your comment! It’s certainly true that any commonly repeated phrase will fall flat if it isn’t accompanied by an upbeat tone and a sincere desire to help. Well-chosen words are important, but it’s the feeling behind them that makes them shine…or not. The difference between a monotone “How may I direct your call” and one delivered with a warm voice (and a smile) can be huge!

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