Study shows customers value friendly phone greetings

Posted on: April 27th, 2016 by Art Barger

I’ve talked a lot lately about different ways contact centers can improve customer retention and loyalty. While contact centers focus on varying techniques to enhance their customer experience, the way we ultimately treat our customers over the telephone channel comes down to an age-old business practice: be nice and helpful to your customers.

Sound too simple? According to the article, “Being Nice to Customers Holds The Key To Improving Sales: Report,” a study by the Marchex Institute found that the way your telephone agents greet customers over the phone can generate millions more in annual sales for your business.

The mobile analytic firm’s study, “America’s Call Centers Revealed,” found that the simple act of a warm telephone greeting that doesn’t put pressure on callers resulted in significantly higher purchases versus when customers are put on hold or left to navigate their way through a tricky IVR system or phone tree. Marchex’s senior VP of marketing and consumer insights, John Busby, said it’s an old adage that still rings true today.

“We have all heard that being nice to your customer is good for business. This study clearly shows that putting the golden rule to work inside a call center can truly turn into gold for that business.”

How much of a difference can a warm telephone greeting make? The study found that for a large call center, a warm greeting can equate to $20 million in additional annual revenue. Other findings include:

  • 20% of consumers were more likely to buy when they were offered clear, no-pressure incentives
  • 22% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service when a call is answered with a warm greeting
  • Conversion rates were 30% higher when callers were greeted with an open-ended question like “Why are you calling today?”
  • Consumer calls that ended with a purchase were answered with a warm greeting 63% of the time
  • 11% of prospective customers hang up during an IVR
  • 50% of callers that hang up from hold times do so in the first three minutes

With consumers expected to make over 100 billion phone calls to businesses this year, and endure 900 million minutes of hold time, it would behove any bank or business that takes inbound calls to invest in adequate training and tools to improve their customer experience.

Caller identification services like the TRUSTID® Physical Caller Authentication give contact center agents the opportunity to greet customers over the phone in a way that can lead to a better overall experience. By verifying each caller while the phone is still ringing, TRUSTID allows businesses to take real-time action on each call based on the automated risk score.

Identifying calls before they are answered means spoofed and other high-risk calls can instantly be removed from the telephone system. When verified calls are routed to appropriate operators, call center agents no longer have to rely on telephone interrogations that include lengthy security questions to identify callers. Instead, they can begin the call with a warm, friendly greeting before addressing the customer’s needs.

Not only can a warm, friendly telephone greeting create additional sales, but by reducing average call handle times and not wasting labor costs on verified bad calls, contact centers can also reduce operating expenses by 20 percent. While customers value how they are greeted and treated over the telephone, studies continue to show that investing in areas that can improve your customer experience is something any business can take to the bank.