“Thank you for calling the Toy House. How can I help you?”
That was the greeting I trained my staff to use every time they answered the phone. Twelve words in a specific order for specific reasons. Let’s break it down …
“Thank you for calling …”
We were a toy store. Imagine who might be calling a toy store. A mom? Sure. A mom with kids running around playing at her feet? Likely. A mom trying to juggle two or three things at once? Ding, ding, ding. Half of her focus is on something other than the phone.
By using an opening phrase like, “Thank you for calling …” before saying the words “Toy House”, we give her a chance to regain her focus. In that split second she recognizes that someone has answered, that someone is a male voice, that someone is speaking English. By the time we get to the words she most needs to hear to know she called the right place—“Toy House”—she has dialed her focus into our voice.
Have you ever called someplace and they said the store name so fast you weren’t sure you called the right place? That doesn’t happen with this script. You give your customer time to focus on the call so that she hears the name of the store clearly.
The other thing this phrase corrects is the employee so in a hurry to answer the phone that he is saying the store name before the receiver even gets to his mouth.
Also, we begin with the words “Thank you.” There is no better greeting for a retailer. They didn’t have to call you. They could go online. They could go elsewhere. They called you. Be grateful. Say thanks.
“How can I help you?”
This is a question that indicates you are ready for the customer to begin talking and you are ready to listen. I have called stores where they simply say the store name and then shut up. There is usually an awkward silence at that point. Not only is this question polite, but it makes the conversation go much more smoothly. Plus, it reinforces in your own staff the importance of listening.
Notice that I don’t instruct my staff to give out their name at this point. There is a reason behind that. The initial person answering the phone is rarely the person answering the question. As you remember from the previous post, the four questions most commonly asked are:
- Can I speak to (a person or the manager)?
- Can I speak to (a department)?
- Do you have (a product)?
- How late are you open?
The customer is likely to remember only one name and usually it is the first name they hear. If the customer asks for a department or has a specific question, the person that greets them at that time is instructed to give out his or her name. “You have reached the baby department. This is Phil. How can I help you?”
This way the customer is only given one name to remember, the name of the person who gave her the greatest help and the name she would need to remember if she called back.
At the end of the day, a customer calling your store wants three things.
- To know that she called the right store
- To be treated with respect
- To get the information she needs
When you train your staff on these little details, your chances for meeting the customer’s expectations go up exponentially.
PS You don’t have to use the same script I used. The most important thing is that you have a script and train the little details like answering the phone with whatever greeting makes most sense for you. Just don’t leave it to chance or happenstance. When you don’t train your staff on these little details your chances for failing your customers go up exponentially, too.