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Greeting a business client in English

9 key information to remember

Knowing how to greet customers in English is an essential skill for any business professional. Even if you don’t work directly with clients on a day-to-day basis, there are still situations where you’ll need to know how to greet and engage with important business partners, such as:

  • Acquiring new business for your company
  • Interacting with outsiders when they visit the office
  • Attending conferences and networking events
  • Functioning in a sales role
  • Participating in group meetings and email chains

Greeting customers, clients, and outsiders to your company is an essential stepping stone to establishing a positive and potentially fruitful future relationship, so learning to do it correctly shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s talk about some of the basics for greeting customers in English.

Meeting a client for the first time or welcoming when they come to visit can be a daunting task in any language and English is no exception! There are plenty of phrases to make it less of an ordeal though. It’s important to be able to welcome the client and leave them with a positive impression when it’s time to leave. There might be a number of people who meet the client during a visit to your business premises, from receptionists to managers and directors and there will be English phrases to be considered for each of these interactions.

Before we explain some key phrases to help you in each stage of greeting a customer, let’s review a few of the basics to making a good impression when we meet someone new:

  • Smile: show that you are happy to be speaking to your client
  • Offer a handshake, if appropriate
  • Use hand gestures when welcoming your client to show that you are engaged in the interaction (for example, pointing to important things and opening your hands to invite questions)

One thing to remember is that people from different cultures have different cultural norms for expressing happiness and respect, so don’t be alarmed if your gestures aren’t reciprocated. Even if your client doesn’t use the above gestures, they will recognize that you are making the effort on your end.

Even if we can carry out the majority of our business interactions online these days, some interactions can really benefit from a face-to-face exchange. Before actually meeting, it will be necessary to contact your customer or potential client to arrange to meet.  There are some English phrases that will be suitable to do this:

Can we arrange a meeting...

  • …to talk about our new products and services?
  • ..to follow up on our telephone conversation?
  • …to discuss the matter further?
  • ... to finalize the details?

You’ll also need to arrange a time and a place to meet and the following phrases should help:

  • Is… okay? (Monday/tomorrow morning/next Wednesday)
  • Is… good for you? (this evening/5pm/Friday afternoon)
  • What time are you free?
  • Are you free on/at…? (Monday/2pm)
  • Can we meet on/at…? (Tuesday/head office)
  • Let me know what suits you best and I’ll make myself available.

You can respond with:

  • …is good/fine for me.
  • I’m free on/at…
  • Could we change it to…
  • That suits me well.
  • That would be perfect!
  • Looking forward to meeting in person.

Of course, it’s not always possible to meet in person, in which case you might need to arrange a virtual meeting. Here are a few phrases to help with that:

  • Could we talk about this on a video call?
  • Are you available for a virtual meeting?
  • What time can you be connected?
  • I’ll be connected from 2pm to 4pm and anytime in between works for me.
  • Let’s speak at 3pm my time, so that’s 4pm your time.
  • Looking forward to talking about this further.

It may be that a client wishes to visit your office, in which case you need to make sure they feel like an important and valued visitor to your establishment. When a client arrives to your office, the first person they are likely to meet will be the receptionist and there are some standard phrases for them to use:

  • Good morning. Welcome.
  • Can I take your name please?
  • Can I ask what you’re here in regards to?
  • Can I call someone to let them know you’re here?
  • Can you sign here, please?
  • This is your visitor’s pass.
  • Take a seat. … will be right down.

If you yourself work in a reception role, knowing how to greet clients is a significant part of your job. Expanding your phrases beyond this list will be important to mastering the variety of interactions you will have in just one day. You will also need to consider variations to account for cultural differences, while also considering how to make yourself better understood to those who don’t have a firm grip on English.

Showing your office to a client can be a strategy to impress your future business partner and seal the deal. It can also be a way to reassure an existing client that you take your business seriously and that they are dealing with professionals

When your client arrives it’s likely that you’ll start off with some small talk before you get to showing them around. Here are a few common phrases that can be used when your client arrives.

  • Did you find us OK?
  • Did you have any trouble getting here?
  • How was your journey?
  • Would you like a coffee? 
  • Is there anything I can get you?
  • Shall we start by taking a look around?
  • Let me show you around.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask… for anything you need.

When a client steps into your office, you should be focused on two main goals: impressing them and making them feel comfortable. It can feel alien to be in someone else’s work environment as an outsider, so it’s a good idea to warn your colleagues that a client is visiting, and to make the necessary effort to put them at ease.

If a client has made the effort to come to your office, it’s likely that you’ll want to introduce them to other members of your team. When introducing someone in your office, it’s common to give their name, title, role, and any other relevant information to help start a discussion.

  • Let me introduce you to some of my colleagues.
  • My colleagues would be delighted to make your acquaintance.
  • This is …, and that’s…
  • He’s in charge of…
  • Let me introduce you to…
  • She recently worked on….
  • Last but not least, you can’t leave without meeting…

When it comes to greeting and introducing clients, the golden rule is to remain respectful. If in doubt, use titles and remain formal. You can monitor your client to feel if they would be happy to introduce some informality into the mix.

After you’ve met your client and it is time to say goodbye, it’s worth remembering that just as first impressions count, so do last impressions! Make sure you send your client on their way feeling happy with the final exchanges of your meeting. How you draw the interaction to a close and your parting words will be a significant part of how your client feels and reflects on your meeting. This can be helped by using some polite goodbye phrases:

  • It looks like that’s all the time we have, but it was great to finally meet you.
  • It was such a pleasure having you with us today.
  • You’re always welcome to call us with any questions.
  • We will be in contact again soon.
  • You’re welcome to visit us again any time you would like.
  • I’ll be in touch soon!
  • Let’s stay in touch!

When saying goodbye to a client it’s always a good idea to mention that you’ll be in touch soon and if it’s your first meeting, it’s a good time to swap business cards. Business relationships, like any other relationship, take time to cultivate and the more time you put in, the healthier the relationship will be!

Have you ever had to deal with dissatisfied customers in English? It’s also important to know how to handle the situation if something goes wrong.

We’ve walked you through the key stages in greeting and interacting with customers. Of course, there are innumerable scenarios and contexts where you could find yourself face to face with a customer, client, or business partner. In order to navigate any situation you might find yourself in, we recommend following our top tips. Follow these and you shouldn’t go too far wrong:

  • Show that you’re happy to be meeting and interacting with this person
  • Remain respectful and if in doubt, remain formal
  • Don’t expect your client to express themself in the same way you do
  • Make you interaction a positive experience
  • Make the most of the meeting by showing and discussing everything you need to
  • Put your client at ease
  • Leave the meeting on a cordial note, with a clear message about next time

Even if the situation, the formality, and the mechanics of the meeting are different, the above tips can apply to any business interaction. In any case, simply showing that you are making the effort will be enough to ensure the good graces of your business partner.

We’ve given you a strong foundation for getting started with understanding how to greet business clients in this article, but what about if you want to take your knowledge to the next level? We’ve got a solution for that and it’s called virtual classes.

In addition to our comprehensive online learning platform with vocabulary and grammar training to perfect your English communication, we’re launching virtual lessons so that language learners just like you can benefit from individual and group learning.

Virtual lessons guided by one of our TESOL-qualified teachers are a brilliant way to polish your learning and train for face-to-face interactions in the world of business. If you’re looking specifically to develop your ability to greet business clients, we suggest booking an individual 30-minute lesson with one of our teachers.

A private virtual lesson on GlobalExam allows you to determine what you study with your teacher. Ask to focus on oral communication skills with some one-on-one role playing activities based around greetings and you’ll be chatting away in no time. The added benefit of an individual lesson is flexibility on the time. We understand that business professionals can work to a tight schedule, so you can call the shots.

Greeting a business client is just one situation that you might come across in a workplace setting. GlobalExam’s Business English course is an online training course that covers a multitude of other workplace situations such as:

Language specific to particular career paths such as marketing, communication, Human Resources, purchasing, sales, and management are examined along with courses for those who want to follow careers in tourism, banking or logistics. Start practicing with our online Professional English course on the CSM sector.

On the course you’ll find hundreds of different workplace situations with related exercises, activities and videos featuring our team of native English speakers. There is even the opportunity to create a professional CV in English too. 

A level test can be done at the start of the course to decide whether you’ll start at beginner, intermediate or advanced level and all participants receive a certificate of completion at the end of their course. So, whatever situation you want to practise for, start the Business English course today!