The difference between a positive and negative experience with a phone call is you.
The human factor in all communications makes the difference.
Customers need to feel
taken care of,
When you answer the phone, it’s that 'human moment' when customers can actually experience what it would be like working with you and your people. It's the opportunity to create relationships for the future of your department
A phone is ringing somewhere in your office. By the third ring the call should be answered. BUT… before you pick up that phone:
1. Clear your mind of all but the task at hand – responding to the caller.
2. Prepare your phone voice
3. Answer by the 2nd ring
4. Offer your standardized greeting.
5. Be prepared before you respond.
6. Treat the caller with respect; be efficient, effective, empathetic and responsive.
Clear Your Mind of all but the Task at Hand – Responding to the Caller
Turn away from your computer and desk when you answer the phone
Put down your reading material.
Focus your attention on the caller
Take the gum out of your mouth
No drinking or eating during the conversation
Prepare Your Phone Voice
According to John Robertson of EZINE @articles, within 60 seconds people will make assumptions about your education, background, ability and personality based on your voice alone.
Your voice is very important to your career and your personal life. When you are talking 87% of the listener’s opinion of you is based on how you say it according to Robertson.
That means that only 13% remains to make a positive impression about what we are saying. Project a tone that conveys enthusiasm, confidence, friendliness and attentiveness.
Let your personality shine through on the phone.
Take a deep breath before you pick up the phone
Smile before you speak
Assume your speaking voice, controlling speed, tone and volume
Be Prepared Before You Respond
Listen not only to what the speaker is saying but to their unspoken thoughts as well. What is it this person isn’t saying that is important to the conversation?
Also listen to the caller without interrupting. Occasionally interject with phrases such as "I understand" and "Tell me more" to show interest and encourage the caller to continue.
Be sure to get clarification. “If I understand you correctly…”, “So you are saying that…” “This is what I understand you are telling me…”
Treat the Caller with Respect; Be Efficient, Effective, Empathetic and Responsive
5 Forbidden Phrases
1. “I Don’t Know”
2. “I/We Can’t Do That”
3. “You Have To”
4. “Just a Second”
“ I Don’t know”
“ That’s a good question, let me find out for you”
“ I/we can’t do that”
“ Here’s what we can do.” Everyone expects that something can be done about any situation. By offering hope, you will be seen as a problem solver.
“ Here’s how we can help” or “Here’s what needs to be done” or “I need to” When someone is calling you for help, avoid putting the responsibility back on them by using the “you” word. Give options using the words “we” or “I”.
“ Just a second”
Give an honest answer about how long it will take you to complete whatever you are doing AND tell them what you are doing. Use the hold button.
Try to find a way to state the situation positively. The customer is not always right but s/he is always the customer. They hate to hear no, as they expect their situation will be resolved to their advantage. If you can’t do what they are asking, be sure to tell them what you can do.
“ Hold on”
“ Will you hold while I…” or May I please put you on hold? (and wait for the answer)
Once you have placed a caller on Hold, check back every 15-30 seconds to update them. Thank them for holding and be as specific as you can about how much longer you expect to keep them on Hold. Each time allow them the opportunity to decide if they would like to continue Holding.
Handle your current caller before you rush off to another…first come, first serve.
“ Who is this?”
“ May I have your name please?” or “Who is calling, please?” or “May I ask who’s calling?”
“ We can’t do that.”
“ I believe we can offer (alternative) ...will that work for you?”
“ I can take a message.”
“ I’ll be happy to take a message and be sure it gets to (the correct person) right away.”
“ So and So is responsible for that.”
“ I’m sorry you’re having this problem, what can I do to help?”
“ No one here would have promised you anything like that.”
“ If I understand you correctly, you were promised…” “Let’s figure out how we can resolve this.”
When the caller needs to be transferred, be polite and ask if they would like to be transferred.
Ask the caller for their number in case you lose them during the transfer.
Give the caller the name of the person to whom you are transferring them along with their number in case the call does not go through or in case they would like to call later.
If at all possible, stay on the line until the transfer is complete.
If you have a frustrated caller who has been transferred several times already, do not transfer them again . Take ownership of their situation. Take the caller’s name and number, find the appropriate person and have them return the call.
Check back to make sure the caller’s situation has been resolved. The caller will always remember your kindness and will tell others about your terrific customer service skills.
When taking a message for someone else, be sure you get the following information recorded:
1. The caller’s name and company/department
2. The correct spelling of the caller’s name, date and time of the call
3. Complete telephone number
4. Brief explanation for call.
Close cordially. When ending a call, summarize important points. If appropriate, conclude with some small talk and if not, at least say something pleasant so that you will be remembered as both gracious and professional.
Finally, thank the person for calling and allow him or her to hang up first; if he or she does not, replace your receiver gently.
Test Your Telephone
1. How long does it take you and/or your switchboard operator to answer the phone?
a) 5 rings or less b) 3 rings or less c) under 3 rings
After two rings, callers are wondering what’s going on. Your phone should be answered in-person by the second ring or by your voice-mail system by the fourth ring.
2. Have you ever said, “Please hold” to a caller?
a) yes b) no
Never put a caller on-hold without asking for their permission, and then waiting for their response. Putting customers on hold without their consent is a sure-fire formula to lose customers.
3. How long does it take a person on hold to become annoyed?
a) 2 minutes b) 30 seconds c) 1 minute d) 17 seconds
Studies show that after only 17 seconds, callers on hold become annoyed. The exception is when the greeter explains why the caller is being asked to hold and provides the estimated time required. Knowing beforehand how long they can expect to wait reduces the chance of annoyance, particularly among long distance and cellular phone callers. Another option to prevent frustration is to offer the caller the option of either holding or hanging up and having their call returned within a brief, specific time period.
4. When you’re talking on the phone while a visitor walks in, who gets priority?
a) the visitor b) the caller
The person who made the effort to show up in-person gets priority. That means you need to interrupt the caller. The quickest way to get that caller’s attention is to call their name. “George, I have someone who just walked in, can I ask you to hold for a moment?” Wait for their agreement. Then acknowledged the visitor, tell them you’ll be a moment, and wrap-up your telephone conversation.
If you’re talking to customer in person when the phone rings, then get someone else to answer the phone, or use voice mail. Abandoning customers to answer the phone is downright rude and is a guaranteed way to lose customers. As obvious as this seems, it’s one of the most common blunders in customer service.
5. When receiving a call for a co-worker, how are you most likely to respond?
a) “Cuong’s not in right now, so I’ll have to take a message.” b) “Cuong’s still at lunch. Can I take a message?” c) “Cuong’s should be back soon. Could you call back in about 15 minutes”
All of these statements have flaws that make the greeter sound unhelpful and unprofessional. Consider each response.
a) The statement, “I’ll have to take a message,” makes it sound like an inconvenient chore. Instead, change two words: “I’ll be happy to take a message.” The bonus is that you don’t work any harder but you convey the impression of someone with a terrific customer service attitude.
b) It’s completely irrelevant that the co-worker is at lunch. The caller might be thinking, “That’s a long time to be at lunch!” It’s also irrelevant whether your coworker is “in a meeting” or “with a customer” or “busy”. The only relevant information is they’re not coming to the phone. Therefore, “Cuong is not available right now” is the most appropriate response, followed by, “I’d be happy to take a message.”
c) asking a caller to phone back later gives the impression that you’re too lazy or disorganized to take a message. This gives a potential customer a terrific excuse to call your competitor.
Thank you for your attention!
John Robertson of EZINE
John Robertson is currently the Training Manager for a major wireless carrier and has over 30 years training and training management experience. He has joined EzineArticles Member since November 12, 2004