If for some reason you missed Part I of this post, which talked about having a great customer service attitude, you can catch it by going here before reading today’s Part II post…
Now that you’re caught up, today let’s look at seven helpful telephone techniques:
Make sure your office develops a welcoming phone greeting containing these components:
- A buffer phrase, identification of your company and yourself, and an offer to help.
EXAMPLE: “Thanks for calling Humberfloob’s. This is Helga, how can I help you?”
Nobody likes to be put on hold, so consider following these steps when “holds” are necessary:
- Explain the reason for the hold and tell the customer what you are going to do.
- Tell them how long they might be on hold.
- Ask the customer’s permission before taking action.
- Offer an alternative if they prefer not to hold.
EXAMPLE: “To get the information you want I’ll need to put you on hold and go access that file. That could take up to 2 minutes. Will that be OK or would you rather me hang up, get the information and then call you back?”
Transferring calls causes lots of heartburn because often people are left hanging, so try this:
- Inform the customer that you are going to transfer their call, then…
- Provide information to the one receiving the call, so the story doesn’t have to be repeated.
EXAMPLE: “To answer your specific question I’m going to need to transfer you to our service manager, Bob. He will pick up momentarily. [Intercom to Bob; I’ve got Mrs. Frye waiting to speak with you on line 3; she needs to know about….]. Mrs. Frye here is Bob, the service manager…”
Ensuring customers no longer have to re-tell their stories will really make your stock go up in value!
When talking to customers don’t use company/industry jargon:
- Acronyms, initials, or nicknames for procedures don’t mean much to customers and will be frustrating and annoying to them.
- Make sure to talk in common-sense plain English that anyone can understand, giving common analogies when necessary to ensure customers understand and aren’t embarrassed.
EXAMPLE: “We will first address the Heisenberg effect going on in the kajavilator and then ensure that the hydra is refuctoring properly, so we can make sure we’re not getting a jenga code.” (Say whaat?)
“Echo questions” are probing tools that help gather more information without asking for the details:
- Simply restate the customer’s last response. This will nudge the caller to give you more information and provide a more detailed explanation of what they called about.
EXAMPLE: Let’s say a customer has called and said although a technician was there yesterday, she still has roaches. If you simply echo “roaches”, with a question inflection in your voice, she will more than likely keep talking and give you more information so you will know what to do next to help.
Sometimes customers become irate about something on the phone, so here is an idea:
- First, apologize for the problem, and then empathize with the customer. Next you should take responsibility for the problem, followed by offering to help immediately.
EXAMPLE: “I am so sorry you are having trouble with the new equipment. I know firsthand how frustrating that can be. I am personally contacting our service manager, who happens to be near your neighborhood this morning, and will have him come to your home and resolve this situation for you, fair enough?”
In today’s world it’s not unusual to get calls from people whose primary language is not English, which takes longer on the telephone, so consider these ideas:
- Be patient and don’t rush them.
- Don’t pretend to understand them when you don’t.
- Don’t speak loudly. (They aren’t deaf, they are foreigners)
- Keep some helpful phrases handy to be able to communicate with foreign callers in languages you encounter regularly.
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