How are you today?

Every now and then I will call a company and it goes like this: “Hi, thank you for calling Company XYZ. My name is Betty. How are you doing today?”

I do not understand why customer service representatives are instructed by their training people or supervisors to ask the question of how are you, how are you doing, or anything else along those lines.

If you think about it, asking such question is not a good idea. Why do most people call companies to talk to a customer service representative? Generally, they have problems. They are calling to ask why their service isn’t working, to return a product, to complain about something, to sort out an incorrect bill, etc.

Best case scenario:

Representative: How are you doing today?
Customer: I’m doing okay.

Worst case scenario:

Representative: How are you doing today?
Customer: Terrible. My Internet is down and my bill is wrong. You are a stupid company.

See? You don’t have that much to gain and a very likely chance of producing an awkward situation at the beginning of a call. This can set a negative tone for the entire call and certainly not help get anything done.

The point is don’t ask customers how they are. Instead, ask something like:

  • How may I help you today?
  • May I help you?
  • How may I assist you?
  • What can I do for you today?
  • etc.

That’s far more productive and isn’t as likely to produce as many problems. Short post today, but an important topic.

6 Responses to “How are you today?”

  1. CustomersAreAlways said:

    Sep 23, 06 at 1:36 am

    How Are You Today, Dear Reader?…

    Service Untitled has an interesting post, How Are You Today? I do often wonder why people ask me that when they obviously don’t really care how I am doing. Just another one of those “robotic phrases” I’ve talked about before…….

  2. Tom Vander Well said:

    Sep 25, 06 at 7:29 am

    I agree wholeheartedly! The “how are you today” implies a level of relationship that is normally not established between a customer and a CSR.

    Our group regularly works with companies who are providing service to dealer networks. The CSRs in these scenarios have a group of dealers or Sales Managers that they have a relationship with because they talk to them regularly, sometimes multiple times a day. In those cases, a “how are you today” works because there’s already a relationship established.

  3. Service Untitled » To be honest with you. said:

    Oct 30, 06 at 5:38 pm

    […] It is kind of like asking how are you? (discussed here). The potential benefits are minimal, but the possible downsides are high. […]

  4. Major said:

    Aug 18, 07 at 12:26 pm

    I’ll have to disagree on this one. In the field in which I work, many companies either:

    1) Outsource their support
    2) Don’t offer phone support

    Many people are please to hear me answer the phone with my Texas accent and say “Hi, my name is Major – how are you doing today?” I’ve had customers actually stop me and say “I’m so glad I don’t have to talk to someone that I can’t understand”.

    I use their response as an “emotional dipstick” to know how upset they are as well. If someone’s calling in and they’re infuriated, I’m going to be very direct and expedient. However, it someone sounds jovial and pleased, I’ll be sure to start up some conversations while my computer is loading their account information.

  5. Service Untitled said:

    Aug 18, 07 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Major,

    Thanks for your comment! Those are good points and strategies. It depends on what sort of job you have and how happy the average caller is. I would think that more callers that call are happy than are frustrated?

  6. Al Salgado said:

    Oct 15, 09 at 4:36 am

    The reason why it’s alrite to ask “how are you doing today” is because people in our society are programmed to be fake and say “I’m doing fine” even if they are not. There is allot of fakeness out there in our society. The fact is nobody that knows you cares how your doing. And if you reply with ” I’m doing horrible today” most people don’t have the skills or the intelligence to say something positive. And most people just don’t want to hear why your not doing so well. So why even ask “How are you doing today” if you don’t care how the person is doing?