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I need a professional and personal opinion on call center greetings

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Author penocea1
#1 | Posted: 8 Apr 2007 05:34 
I want to know if calling a customer by their first name is less respectful. It has been my experience that when the company requires you to only refer to the customer by their last name, most of the techs or call center agents will revert back to saying Sir or Madam through the whole conversation either because they can't pronounce the last name or it is just easier, I tend to stumble over last names because it's not a habit of mine in my personal life. For woman, is it Ms or Mrs? How would we know? As a customer I actually prefer companies to say my first name. It is more personal and they can't mispronounce Penny. What is your opinion as professionals and customers? Would referring to a client or customer by their first name professional or not?

Author HumanTech
#2 | Posted: 8 Apr 2007 07:22 

Great question. As a professional and as a customer, I like to be asked, "May i call you by your first name?" I usually say yes, but if someone said no, then I'd call them by their last name.

If they have a hard to pronounce last name, I'd ask them how to pronounce it and then phonetically write it down so I can use it throughout the conversation rather than saying Sir or Madam.

Treating customers with respect is the bottom line and asking permission to use their first name underlines that respect.

Hope this is helpful.

Author penocea1
#3 | Posted: 8 Apr 2007 07:50 

Yes, very helpful. I will use both your suggestions. I agree with treating customers with respect and am always trying to improve my skills that will benefil both of us. I'm glad I joined this forum.

Thank you again.

Author patilint
#4 | Posted: 9 Apr 2007 07:50 
I personally believe that calling someone by their first name should be reserved for those you know well or those who have indicated it is acceptable. Alot of customers give their first name when you ask who is calling so to me that would constitute acceptance of using the first name. If they give both, then I use the proper Mr or Miss and the last name until I ask permission. It is difficult to know when to us Mrs or Miss or Ms.

There is one thing that bothers me (and this is a personal quirk) i-if I give my name as Pat and they call me Miss Pat...I know this is done (I think) with respect but for some reason I do not like it. If I say Pat then call me Pat....

I do believe that if a customer gives his or her name, you should use it...saying SIr or Madam all through the conversation tells me that you didn't listen and get the name or you didn't care enough to use it.

Have a great week and keep posting.

Author harindra
#5 | Posted: 11 Apr 2007 02:52 

Well, I think we should treat our customers in a very professional way. It's good to be friendly but should not cross the line of professionalism.

Unless the customer gives the permission to address him or her by the first name call agents should not use the first name.

Call agents struggle when they are talking with women. When they don't know whether they are married or not. Therefore it's always better to address them by Ms (pronouns as Mz).

I agree with Patilint.Calling customers "sir" or "madam" , won't help the call agent to make the customer feel he or she is treated as an individual. The only way that a call can be personalised is using the customers name through out the conversation.
If I am not wrong; people who are knighted can be called as "sir" not each and everyone. This is not applicable in all countries.


Author penocea1
#6 | Posted: 13 Apr 2007 15:41 

Thanks everyone for your comments. Using the last name would be much more professional. I really wanted to hear that saying the First name would be alright, however I realize it is not the best way to go.


Author llevesque
#7 | Posted: 19 Apr 2007 13:54 
I disagree with harindra when talking with women;
... it's always better to address them by Ms.
There is nothing wrong with asking a woman if Ms, Miss, or Mrs is preferred if you are not allowed to use a first name. But I would ask if I could use their first name before requesting what title they prefer to go by.

Author kristym
#8 | Posted: 19 Apr 2007 17:05 
I disagree as well, my operators are encouraged to remember and use a customers first name while having a conversation with them. It is more personalised, it makes a customer feel you are only interested in them and from there can only build great rapport.

Author ayaree
#9 | Posted: 19 Apr 2007 18:43 
I think there are a variety of contexts in which more than one form of address is acceptable. For instance, I think I have always been addressed as Mr + Last Name when in an airport context. I think it fits. In a phone support context, I don't feel comfortable hearing a CSR refer to me in that formal manner repeatedly, and I would also prefer not to hear sir as a tag to every other sentence (one will do nicely, ha ha). That's putting myself in a customer position.

When I put myself in a customer service position, I think I have just been in situations where using a first name was the norm. I have used Mr/Ms on a few rare occasions in spoken language and I recall using Mr with someone who was the owner of a company. Not sure why I did, maybe it was because I thought he had encountered a delay or had gotten a runaround before landing with me, and I guess the Mr came out instinctively to show him I thought he was important.

So I am seeing both sides here...I use first name the majority of times in speech and writing. I wouldn't say that the first name usage means they are run of the mill. When I think of a successful handling of a customer, it is about speaking in their language, understanding their issue, and being the answer to a need, like a hand fitting in a glove. And you can achieve that in a conversation/customer service situation without using Mr/Ms, by demonstrating acknowledgement, being armed with information that they need, etc. This is what I have experienced in a North American setting.

Author danielbechara
#10 | Posted: 2 Jul 2007 12:15 
From my side It depends on the culture and nationality of the person you are talking to ...

The question about Ms Mrs .
100% Ms. even if she is married she will not get angry. But imagine you r saying to Ms. Mrs she will tell you who told you i am married...

Author Neil Wilkins
#11 | Posted: 23 Jul 2007 02:06 

The following maybe helpful. The statistics are taken from a survey carried out by 'Standard Life'

• 53% prefer to be called by their title and surname - women (59%) more than men (47%).

• Only 36% like to be called by their first name, although the younger the person the more acceptable it is. 53% of 16-24 year olds and 43% of 25-34 year olds like it. People aged over 35 much prefer title and surname compared to any other age group.

I trust this maybe of some use.


Author mks_krish
#12 | Posted: 23 Jul 2007 09:50 
Hi penocea1,

This is a very good question!

This depends on many factors which are as below:

1) Depends on the person's legacy - If a guy born and brought up in the culture of calling a senior/Boss "Sir", then he would like to be called as "sir"
2) In some countries, calling a aged/elder people (than you) with thier name is treated as disrespect. Hence , in that culture they like to be called as Boss or "Sir"
3) I had a experience in which one of my customer wants me to call him with his full name.
4) Some guys would like to be called in thier short name (like viky, miky etc.,) without any "Mr" or "Ms".

Best thing is to understand your surrounding and customer's surrounding and call him accordingly. Or else follow universally standard way of greeting customer " welcome Mr. xxxxxxxxxxx ..... ..... ....."

I don't know if i made sense while putting the above points! please respond fi the above points helped!

with best regards

Author penocea1
#13 | Posted: 30 Jul 2007 16:08 
Thank you everyone for your wonderful feedback. The more you do something, the more it feels comfortable. So, I have continued to make an effort in addressing each customer as Mr. and Miss and when I am sure Mrs. Your response to this topic has helped me so much.

Author Neil Wilkins
#14 | Posted: 1 Aug 2007 01:56 

Another tip that might help you is at the start of the call asking the customer if you can take their title, first name and surname. This way you get all the information you need clearly at the start of your call.

Wishing you every sucess.



Author ayaree
#15 | Posted: 2 Aug 2007 17:55 
Wow, Neil, I skimmed the above answers really quickly to see if that simple step as a solution already came up, I don't think it did? I think a lot of people wanted to talk about the ways (like me) wanted to talk about the different contexts and connotations, but your answer looks at just coming up with a way of finding out what somebody is probably going to want to be called!

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