In today’s high-tech world, the one communication tool that remains a constant is the telephone.
Hundreds of millions of telephone calls are made each and every day around the world and many of those calls are made by customers. It is clear that the way these telephone calls are handled can make a huge difference to a company’s relationship with it’s customers.
Using the telephone competently and courteously is essential to customer and client satisfaction. Poor telephone etiquette can have a disastrous effect on your telephone customer service – and bottom line.
Here are my tips for providing excellent telephone customer service:
Top 12 Tips for Telephone Customer Service
1. Preparation. Have a fair idea of what you are going to say in advance of your telephone call. Have a mental script you can fall back on if the conversation wonders.
2. Introduction. When we meet people face to face we often introduce ourselves with a handshake. On the phone we must do this verbally by greeting the customer genuine warmth.
3. Build rapport. Most callers want to speak with a human being not a machine. Be yourself and keep it friendly.
4. Speak Clearly. Making yourself understood is a key principle of effective telephone customer service.
5. Tone of Voice. A friendly but authoritative manner works well. Develop your own phone personality and vary your vocal pitch to avoid sending the caller to sleep.
6. Keep it Positive. Make a list of words that sound upbeat and use them. Avoid using negative words and phrases on the telephone such as: that’s not possible, forget it, why didn’t you, I don’t know, never heard of it, it’s against policy and no can do. Keep bureaucratic phrases and jargon out of the customer service conversation.
7. Listen. In some ways, listening to your customer is more important than speaking. Find out exactly what your customer wants before attending to their needs.
8. Putting callers on-hold. If you have to leave the customer at anytime, make sure you explain what, why and for how long. Offering to call the customer back demonstrates courtesy and a willingness to help.
9. Transferring calls. One thing that kills a customer relationship is being passed around from pillar to post – or worst still, getting lost inside a virtual switchboard. Ensure you know how your telephone customer service system works and always get the callers details before you transfer them, so you can call them back if need be.
10. Use Voicemail Effectively. Properly compose your voicemail before delivering it. Rehearse announcements before recording them on your phone.
11. Dealing with Difficult calls. Try to think why the caller is acting the way they are and do not take what people say to you as a personal insult. Don’t lose your temper and keep your attention on the facts. Try to get your customer’s agreement as a way forward to resolving the call.
12. Closing the call. make sure you give assurance that any promises you have made will be fulfilled. Thank the caller and let them know their business is appreciated. Your ultimate aim should be that the caller remembers their telephone customer service experience in a positive way.
And here’s my special bonus tip..
13. The Golden Rule. Always treat your customers exactly how you want to be treated yourself!
By following these telephone customer service tips not only will you communicate effectively with your customers – you will positively impact your company’s bottom line.
About the Author
Ian Miller is Editor of Customer Service Manager Magazine (CSM) – the leading resource and community for customer service professionals.