Customer Service Greetings – The Good, the Mediocre and the Innovative


red old phone and empty speech bubble

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We introduce the basics of IVR customer service greeting messages, sharing examples from ten recognizable brands.

Most of the greeting message examples precede a list of IVR options. However, some of the following companies now use voicebots – infused with natural language understanding – to filter customers into call queues instead.

Discover the best ways call centre advisors can greet customers by reading our article: The Best Customer Service Greeting Phrases – With Examples

The Good

1. RAC

“Thanks for calling the RAC. We’re here to help. To continuously improve our service, we may record your call…”

Short and sharp, this greeting message gets straight to the point. As such, it saves the customer time navigating the IVR and is conducive to effortless customer service.

Nevertheless, it does include a simple four-word reassurance statement with the phrase: “We’re here to help.” Such a short sentence is powerful, considering the elevated emotions of RAC callers.

2. Aldi

“Thank you for calling Aldi customer service. Please be aware, calls may be recorded for training and quality purposes. Please note that we have amended our options to ensure that you are put through to the right member of our team…”

Including a helpful update regarding changes to the IVR options, the message ensures that repeat callers do not skip ahead and enter the wrong call queue.

Perhaps it could come before the sentence that references the call recording. If so, even fewer customers will enter an incorrect number into the IVR.

Better yet, play the recording announcement in the transfer message from the IVR to the call queue. Doing so reduces each customer’s wait time – saving precious seconds.

3. KLM

“Hi, welcome to the KLM service line. If you are a flying blue member, press the hash key. If otherwise, please wait.”

KLM keep their greeting message concise. However, they do find space for a sentence that enables the segmentation of VIP customers. The contact centre may then route these customers separately.

In doing so, KLM can offer a more streamlined service to loyal customers. They could do so more discreetly with advanced routing technology, but the idea is interesting.

Finally, the message also included music, which undercut the first sentence. The music adds character to the greeting without unnecessarily increasing its length.

4. DPD

“Good afternoon, and welcome to DPD. To get started, please enter your parcel number, calling card number or contact phone number, followed by the hash key.”

Frustrated, impatient callers are a norm within the delivery industry. Thankfully, DPD’s greeting is clear and concise. Alongside an assertive voice, the greeting creates a sense of immediacy.

Interestingly, the message also asks the customer to enter details relating to their query to gather information on the advisor’s behalf. Doing so may speed up handling times.

Interested in learning more best practices from the DPD team? Check out our article: 15 Things You Can Learn From the DPD Contact Centre

5. Lego

“Thanks for calling Lego customer service. To help us improve our service, we may record your call. So that we put you through to the right Lego expert, please choose from these four options…”

Again, removing the note that references the call recording will improve this greeting. Adding it to the IVR transfer message instead increases efficiency.

However, it is still relatively concise and keeps the experience simple, assuring the customer that there are only four choices.

The Mediocre

6. John Lewis

“Hello and thanks for calling John Lewis and Partners. To help us improve our service, we may record your call. Johnlewis.com has answers to many questions. Just visit our website and click “customer service”. This also includes our privacy notice…”

Typically, callers will have already visited the company website but could not find the answers they sought. Picking up the phone is often their last resort. IVR messaging must acknowledge this.

Self-service only takes customers so far and it would be better to remove the sentence intended for digital deflection. During the call queue, such a message may receive less of a dismissive reaction. In the greeting, however, its inclusion fails to offer the ideal first impression.

Also, the contact number is only available on the “customer service” section of the John Lewis website. Therefore, the company essentially asks customers to return to a place where they could not originally find an answer.

7. Amazon

“Welcome to Amazon. We have a faster way to contact us. We can immediately send you an SMS with a direct link to contact customer service. To do this, press one. This call will then end. To repeat this message, press 2, or press 3 to continue.”

Again, customers only turn to the phone when they have exhausted all other options. Such a message, which clearly intends to deflect the customer, only adds a step into the customer journey; an irritating step.

Strangely, this appears to contradict the traditional goal of Amazon to deliver effortless customer experiences. Just take a moment to consider these words of wisdom from Jeff Bezos: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.”

Is Amazon’s IVR greeting message in keeping with this quote? It seems not.

8. OVO Energy

“Hello, and thanks for calling OVO Energy. Just so you know, we record all of our calls to make sure you’re getting the best service possible. Please enter your seven or eight-digit account number, followed by a hash.”

Consider the statement: “You’re getting the best service possible.” Will upset customers waiting in the call queue agree that they have experienced “the best possible service”? No. Such a greeting may fan the flames.

The lesson here is to consider customer emotion when writing the IVR script.

In better news, the greeting statement does use contractions – such as “you’re” and “thanks” – to sound more human and collect information upfront for advisors. However, it could still be improved.

It is also worth considering the likelihood of the customer knowing their account number by heart. If not, it may be better to ask customers to enter it as they wait on hold. Doing so may help to keep customers engaged as they wait and hence limit abandons.

The Innovative

9. Apple

“Welcome to Apple. Calls are recorded for evaluation, to train personnel and to improve contact centre technology. I am an automated system that can handle complete sentences. So, tell me: how can I help you today.”

Understanding entire sentences, the Apple IVR system is run by a virtual bot, using the power of voice to direct the customer.

In doing so, it directs customers to either a voice-powered self-service system or an advisor, depending on their issue.

Yet, despite offering such innovation, Apple still includes the “call recording” message within their greeting instead of their transfer message.

10. HelloFresh

“Hello. Thanks for calling HelloFresh. In one or two words, please describe what you would like to speak to one of our agents about.”

Again, an IVR bot delivers this message and directs the customer, which is an excellent innovation.

A thumbnail photo of Neil Martin

Neil Martin

However, the solution seems less advanced. As such, customers may run into frustrations like whittling a complex problem down to just one or two words.

Also, there is no introduction to the bot. An unassuming customer may then perceive that they are talking to an actual person, creating confusion.

As Neil Martin, a customer service specialist, once told us: “Let customers know that they are talking to a bot and set reasonable expectations. From then on, we are happy to suspend our disbelief.”

★★★★★

How to Create Excellent Greeting Messages

In line with some of the better practices listed above, here are some quick-fire tips for developing IVR customer service greetings that hit the mark.

Less Is More

In the interest of ensuring a consistent experience across all platforms, keep messages “on-brand”. Just remember, greeting messages do not have to be spectacular. Less is more.

Remember, it is an IVR script, not War and Peace. Long messages – of over 20 seconds – will only serve to frustrate customers. The goal is to keep customers focused on selecting the optimal menu option.

Consider the Caller’s Frame of Mind

Think about who is calling in. Why do customers most often call? What is their emotional state? If a customer is desperate for instant answers, what would that look like in the IVR?

Allison Smith

Allison Smith

For starters, the most pressing options should sit at the front of the IVR. Incorporating some into the greeting statement often works well. Emergency contact reasons are an excellent example of this.

Avoid making the mistake that Allison Smith – Founder of The IVR Voice – once encountered.

“I was once asked to be the voice of an IVR for a US heart clinic,” explains Allison. “They had twelve IVR options – which, for starters, was far too many. Yet, the very last message instructed customers that if this was a medical emergency, dial 911.”

Clearly, this message comes too late. So, if customers are looking for emergency support, consider how this may fit into the greeting message.

Also, if a company has a gold support strata, include them within the greeting too. Doing so ensures that they realize that they are receiving premium service.

Add One or Two Courtesy Words and NO Jargon

Phrases such as “thanks”, “welcome” and “please” help to set the right tone for the upcoming conversation.

Common courtesies are not old fashioned. Phrases such as “thanks”, “welcome” and “please” help to set the right tone for the upcoming conversation.

Of course, the overarching tone should reflect the typical emotions of calling customers and the brand image. Nevertheless, speedy courtesy words and phrases create a better first impression.

Finally, no jargon! As per the premise of keeping IVR greetings clear and concise, remove strange terms that may confuse customers.

Consider a Female Voice

Eight of the ten companies chose a female voice to front the IVR. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

As Allison Smith says: “The goal has always been to create a calm, reassuring, and pleasant essence in a voice.”

Microsoft research also found that female voices are considered more trustworthy.

While discussing their automotive assistant Cortana, a Microsoft spokesperson admits that the company immersed itself in gender research before choosing a female voice for the bot.

“For our objectives — building a helpful, supportive, trustworthy assistant — a female voice was the stronger choice,” says a speech scientist working on the project.

Talk to the Team

Everyone is a customer, navigating various IVR systems. So, talk to the team about their common IVR gripes. Listen back to the IVR flow. Do any crop up?

Contact centre advisors may also relay customer messaging- and music-related criticism regarding the IVR.

How is your hold music impacting customer experience? The following article may share some helpful insights: What Customers Really Think of Music on Hold

Finally, Keep It Simple

An IVR greeting is essentially an introduction to customer service. It should help, not hinder, the caller. An IVR message will not wow anyone.

Of course, it must stay pleasant and professional. Yet, it is critical to cut down time in the IVR, enabling customers to engage with the business in a more meaningful way.

For this reason, a no-frills, under-the-radar IVR greeting often works best. Any extras are perhaps much better suited to either the transfer message or on-hold messages. Contact centres may then reduce time navigating the IVR.

Lastly, test IVR changes thoroughly. IVR abandon rates are a critical metric, indicating how customers react to hearing the new greeting message.

Eager to learn more insights about creating the best IVR experience? Then check out our articles:

Published On: 11th May 2022 - Last modified: 13th Jul 2022
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , , ,


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