By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker & President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

Ok, no rude comments please. I don’t remember that either, just looked interesting. And they probably had the same question back then.

How do I answer a business call?

One the most often asked questions I get in all my speaking conferences across the country during our question and answering segment is:

Nancy, what is the best way to answer our business phone?

Well, I’ve never said Telephone Doctor is the best or the only. However, I do stand behind the fact we have the most effective telephone techniques. After all, we’ve been doing this a long time.

So if you’re looking for the most effective method in answering your business phone, if you want to be the most effective on the INITIAL greeting, come along with me and listen.

We only need 3 things when we answer a business phone:

1.    A buffer

2.    The company or department name

3.    Your name

Then stop!

Anything after your name erases your name. The initial greeting needs to end with your name.

“How can I help you?” is not necessary in the initial greeting. You’re there to help. You’re there to answer the call. How can I help you is not bad. It’s a semi-useless statement, an interruptible statement, and often an ineffective one as well.

Just the other day I called my bank:

“Good morning. XXX Bank. Mary speaking. How can I help you?”

“Oh good,” I said. “My name is Nancy Friedman and I just got my statement. It appears there’s something wrong.”

“Oh gee. I’m sorry, I can’t help you,” she says sweetly.

“Then why did you say you could?” I said just as sweetly.

We do not need “How can I help you?” in the initial greeting. End of subject. It’s useless. The 3 things we need to answer a phone call effectively are:

1.    Buffer – It’s the greeting. It’s the handshake. The welcome statement. This can be anything that warms the call. From “Thanks for calling,” “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Tuesday,” even “Hi” is a buffer. Something that buffers the company name is the important part. I don’t care what it is. You choose; however, it needs to be there.

Answering a call without a buffer is considered cold and rude. Blurting out. “Macy’s” without a warm buffer is ineffective, cold and rude. (Not saying they do it. Just using a recognizable name.)

Most of the time my audiences like to know what we use at Telephone Doctor. We use “Thanks for calling.” Why? Because many years ago I was hearing “Good morning” at 4 pm or “Good afternoon” at 9 am. So I suggested to those who answered our phones to never make that mistake again. Let’s use “Thanks for calling.” Now we’re right every time.

2.    Your company name – That’s the key component. After people have been welcomed, they want to be sure they’ve reached the right place, so the company name stands out best after the buffer. That way, if anything gets clipped off it’s the buffer; NOT the company name.

3.    Now your name – And by the way, it should be: This is Bob. This is Nancy. Not Nancy speaking. Nancy speaking is married to Dick speaking. Do not use “speaking” as your last name! It’s “This is Nancy.” Then stop. (You of course use your own name. Just saying.)

We have found 2 important things happen when you use our Telephone Doctor 3-part greeting. First, it speeds the rapport building process and second, our surveys found that when you end with your name, if that’s the last thing the caller hears when he calls, 80% of the time he’ll give his name immediately. Cool? isn’t it?

So to recap:

A buffer – something to welcome the caller

Your company name

And your name.

Then stop and let the conversation begin. And it will.

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.