The Perfect Answer

By Peter L DeHaan

How often have you called a company and wondered if you reached the right number? All too often, calls are answered hurriedly, haphazardly, or incompletely. Or perhaps the receptionist seems out of breath by the time they complete a lengthy, tongue-twisting salutation. It is vital that a business or organization answer all calls the same way. There are three parts of the ideal way to do so:

Greeting: The greeting is simply “Good morning,” Good afternoon,” or “Good evening.”  During the holiday season, “Happy holidays,” or “Season’s greetings” may be used. The greeting signals to the caller that the phone has been answered – and that it is time for them to listen!  If the caller is not focused or needs to adjust their listening to your phrasing, pacing, or accent, these words give time for this to happen, but this phrase is also not critical if it is missed. Lastly, the greeting serves to set a positive tone for the call.

Company Identity:  The company identity is simply the name of your organization, such as, “Acme Industries.”  It lets callers know who they have reached, thereby confirming that their call has gone through correctly. In general, state the company name as it would be used by and most familiar to people outside the organization. Therefore, you should generally drop legal suffixes, such an Inc, LLC, and Ltd, or other formal adornments that would confuse the caller rather than clarify. For the same reason, don’t shorten or abbreviate the company name either. Saying “AI” when everyone knows you as “Acme Industries” serves no useful purpose.

Your Name:  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 also allows you to build a rapport and establish a track record with the caller. As the last word of the perfect 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 not effective communication; drop such pointless embellishments.

Putting these elements together, results in the perfect answer:

“Good morning, Acme Industries, this is Fred.”

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