How to Greet People on the Phone

Knowing how to greet people on the phone is the first step in making your conversation go smoothly. Polite greetings when picking up the phone make the whole call go much easier, even if you’re only responsible for handing the phone over to someone else. To greet people on the phone, use formal introductions when you are at work or keep it casual when talking to your friends to have phone calls that start off on the right foot.


Personal Calls

Answer your phone with a “Hello” if you don’t know who it is. Phone calls from numbers you don’t know could be a variety of people: friends, neighbors, family members, or acquaintances. To keep it neutral, answer your phone with a simple “hello?” if you aren’t sure who is calling. This gives the caller a chance to identify who they are right away.
Keep your tone light and neutral as you answer the phone.

Greet the caller by name if you know them. If your phone has caller ID, you may know who is calling you before you answer. If they are your friend or acquaintance, feel free to greet them with a question of how they are doing. You can express happiness at hearing from them as well.
Try saying, “Hi Levi, how are you doing?”

Use informal language with family and close friends. You can be more casual when greeting someone you know. Use slang language and words if they will know what you mean. However, if you are talking to someone older, like a grandparent, they may not be up to date on all of the slang language that you use.
You can say things like, “Hey, what’s up?” and “What’s happening?”

Introduce yourself by name when you call someone else. When you make a phone call, the person on the other line might not know who you are. If they answer with a “hello?” always start by saying who you are, even if they are a close friend or family member. They might not have caller ID, or they might not have your number saved.
Try saying, “Hey Mike, it’s Ruby calling.”

Professional Calls

Start with “Good morning/afternoon/evening.” Depending on what time you are working, start your call out with a greeting that reflects the time of day. This is a more personal way to greet someone while still keeping it professional. Callers will appreciate you wishing them a good day.
Use more formal language, like “Hello,” instead of casual language such as “Hi” when in professional situations.
You can also thank the person for calling your company to show that you appreciate their business.

Introduce yourself and the name of your company, if applicable. When someone calls you at work, it’s important to tell the caller who you are. Give your name and some context for what work you do when you first pick up. This will start a conversation and avoid having too many questions from your caller.
Try saying, “Good morning, this is Jacob from Quickie’s Print Shop.”

Ask how you can help someone if you are a customer service representative. If your job is to help customers or clients, add a question of how you can help onto your greeting. This will let people know that they’ve reached the right place. It will also help you avoid small talk and get straight to the point of their phone call.

Listen carefully to the caller’s request. During this brief moment, you’ll become aware of whether the caller wishes to speak with you or whether you need to take a message or pass the phone to someone else. During this fact-establishing moment, remain courteous and don’t interrupt. If the other person hasn’t given their name or it isn’t clear to you, be sure to ask for clarification at this point.
You can prompt people for information by saying things like “How may I direct your call?” or, “How can I help you?”

Tell your caller politely if you need to put them on hold. Some people will launch into telling you their problem before you have a chance to intervene. Stay polite and let them know that you’ve heard their request but that you’ll need to put them through to the person whose role it is to deal with their matter. If you have to ask them to wait, tell them that their call is being directed to the correct person.
Say something like: “May I put you on hold for a moment while I redirect your call?”

Practicing Good Phone Etiquette

Stop drinking or chewing food or gum before taking a call. Each of these sounds comes through to the caller on the other end of the line and they can sound annoying. Other bodily noises to avoid when answering or speaking on the phone include flatulence, burping, smacking your gums together, yawning, mumbling or making popping noises with your mouth. If you have no choice but to sneeze or cough, excuse yourself and quickly cover the phone’s sound piece.
If you are at a restaurant or in the middle of a meal, consider taking your phone call outside or letting it go to voicemail until you can talk to them without food in your mouth.

Answer the phone promptly. A phone that continues ringing leaves time for people to wonder why you’re so slow at answering it. When you eventually get around to picking it up, it’s possible that they’ll be annoyed because they’ve become a little impatient. This is especially important in a work or business context, but it can also matter on the home front.
A good rule of thumb is not to let your phone ring more than 3 times.

State your name and who you’d like to speak to when calling someone. In a professional setting, it is very important to get straight to the point of your phone call, since most people are busy. Introduce yourself by name and ask for the person you need to speak to as soon as someone answers the phone.
Try something like, “Hi, this is Hannah. I’d like to speak to Zachariah, please.”

Finish your call with a pleasantry. Even if your call could have gone better, try to end the phone call on a positive note by wishing the caller well. Tell them to enjoy their day, or even thank them for calling you. This is especially important in a professional setting, since your pleasantries could reflect how good of an experience the customer had.
Say something like, “It was a pleasure talking to you, Jane.” or, “Thank you for calling WikiHow, have a nice day.”

Leave a comprehensible and clear answering machine greeting if necessary. Your answering machine or voicemail is a form of greeting as much as is picking up the phone and answering it directly. Leave a message that is succinct, clear, friendly and makes an invitation for the caller to leave you a message, with a promise that you’ll get back to them as soon as possible.
For example, try something like, “Hi, you’ve reached Gwyn Fravel of the Marketing Department. I’m not in right now, please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

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