Telephone manners are critical to good customer interaction.
Call center customer service professionals have to be polite and lead the call, even if the customer isn't being polite because of a problem or service failure.
Ask anyone how they feel about phoning a call center and most people reply “I dread it”. Long call waiting times, press 1 for this and press 2 for that, cause blood pressure to rise, especially when “this” and “that” weren’t the reason for your call. So your customers may not be in the best mood by the time they get through to a customer service agent.
The skills and manner of employees can make a huge difference. If the Customer Service Representative is polite and helpful right from the beginning of the call, their manner can transform a call, and lead to a positive customer experience. It is, after all, very hard to be angry with someone who is polite and trying to help us.
Those skills might take a little longer to acquire, and consistently put into practice, but you can compile a list of things that are essential when helping customers by telephone.
Here are some ideas to help you.
So set the standards you require, make best practice a clear part of your customer service development programme and include the telephone manners you expect from your people when they are dealing with customers.
Good call handling skills and embedded customer service best practice will of course make the difference. But ask a customer and they’ll tell you “simple manners go a long way”
In fact, calls are often “won or lost” in the first 30 seconds. Click here to
Call are often “won or lost” in the first 30 seconds. Click here to download a useful article on creating the right first impression.
A verbal handshake can make all the difference.
"Good morning, XYZ Co, can I take your name please?"
"Thank you, how would you like me to address you as James or Mr Bond?"
"James is fine,"
"OK James, you are through to Em, how can I help you today?"
Think of the person the message is for, what will they need to know to be able to help this customer easily and effectively?
Using a message will usually include:-
It is in call transfers that good customer service practices and manners become essential. Handing over a call well and with courtesy is good for the customer, colleagues and inter-departmental relationships.
Letting the customer / caller know that while they are being put on hold the call agent will explain the details of their call / query, to the co-worker they will be transferring the call to.
The person taking over the call needs to summarise well their understanding of the reason for the call.
This makes for a joined up customer experience.
When a new product is launched, there are operational issues, invoices / bills have just been sent out, and call traffic is high, customer service personnel can become frazzled.
Agents may let off steam by talking about customers being rude. It's important that call agents understand their job is to lead the way even on the most difficult calls with the most difficult customers. If the call agent sets the standard of communication and tone, the majority of people respond.
If you find that there are members of your team who seem to have to deal with more angry customers than their colleagues. they may be triggering that anger. Review some of those calls with them - what happened that brought the customer's frustration to the surface?
The Intelligent Dialogue team have just published a free Go To Guide to Helping Angry Customers, which is well worth a look at. You can get your copy by clicking here
“Please”, “thank you”, and using the appropriate form of the customer's name, are all a given where telephone manners are concerned, as should be a helpful tone and attitude.
Use real calls; play back real calls with real customers to the agents who made them. Call coaching done well, can make a huge difference. Why? Because the agent hears how they sound to customers, and can identify for themselves what they do well and might also do differently.
Make mystery shopping calls and ask your people to evaluate them. By asking the agents to consider the call from the customer's perspective, you can use this to explore what makes an agent sound helpful or rude, interested or disinterested.