When it comes to conducting any kind of business over the phone or another type of remote communication device, there are always special challenges associated with it. A large part of this has to do with the physical distance between you and your customer. When there are no visual communication channels that are available, it can be quite easy to get disconnected. Even if you’re a careful listener, it can be easy to judge the situation incorrectly since the words and voice of the customer are the only way to know how a customer is really feeling.
Phone support is just as important as face-to-face support. Just remember that after a customer has hung up the phone, she or he has already formed an opinion about you and your organization. If the phone call is handled correctly, the customer will most likely be satisfied with the experience and return with repeat business. However, if the phone call is handled improperly, you could lose the customer forever. Maintaining a good reputation with your customers will depend on being able to satisfy the needs of the customer during that short period of time that they are on the other end of the telephone line with you.
There are certain things you can do ensure that you provide high-quality service to your customers, including over the telephone.
1. Use proper telephone etiquette
Although it may appear to be obvious, basic phone etiquette can go a long way towards ensuring that the customer has a positive experience. Answer calls right away, avoid having long hold and wait times, and before transferring or putting a customer on hold always ask them first. It can be so frustrating for customers making a service call to have to wait in a long queue, be placed on hold indefinitely, or get shuffled from one place to the next. Those types of experiences communicate to your customers right away that your organization doesn't care about them - and that is exactly the opposite type of impression that you are wanting to make.
Whenever you answer the telephone, be sure to smile and keep a pleasant expression on your face while speaking to customers.
It may seem like a cliché, however, it really is true that when you are smiling your voice does sound different. Your customers will be able to hear that. If you smile, you will also feel different. When you physically smile, it releases endorphins that make improvements to your mood. It will help you be able to have a better attitude on the job, and respond to customers more positively. You and your customers will both benefit! Here are some tips.
2. Use the Person's Name
You know the customer's name, be sure to use it. To "monogram" the call, write the person's initials down. It will help you remember your customer's name and help personalize the call.
3. Communicate Caring and Competence
The impression your customer has of you will not only be based on how their issue is handled by you, but also based on what you say. Be sure to come across as sympathetic and competent. Several mishandled transfers, unclear communication or rude mannerisms will seriously damage your image and the impression the customer has of you. Make sure that you always conduct business in a smooth manner. If you need to ask another person questions, ask the customer if you can put them on hold. Your customer's time and feelings should always be taken into account. Make sure they know that you understand what their frustrations are. It will make them feel better just to know that someone has listened and is attempting to get the issue solved.
4. Use the 5 C’s
Good communication has five basic components - it should be correct, concrete, concise, complete and clear. These are known as the 5 C’s. Be sure that your customer fully understands your solution or explanation by stating it clearly, describing it completely, in specific terms. Also be sure that you get all of the facts straight. Providing information that either the customer doesn't really understand or that is erroneous is unhelpful and will lead to a bad impression.
This is the main key to all good customer interactions and is particularly true when it comes to phone service. By asking good questions, and listening attentively, you can figure out what the underlying issue is, what the person's emotional state is, and how the customer want their problem to be handled. It does take practice and time to develop good listening skills, however, once mastered, it is an invaluable skill.
When the main form of contact with your customer is over the phone, there is a lot riding on your conversation. The customer's perception of your organization can be completely tarnished based on what is said. It takes a lot of practice to develop your phone skills - so practice! Great insights can be found by recording yourself, getting feedback from others or listening to recorded calls.
Be sure to convey the right impression to your customers!
About the Author
Cormac Reynolds is a marketer and works for Elemental. He has written for a variety of different blogs and would love for you to follow him on Twitter.Follow on Twitter More Content by Cormac Reynolds