When it comes to great telephone skills, it’s important to think about both the mechanics and the semantics behind what defines great. For businesses who manage a bank of phones or a call center, this is their reason for being and they generally have excellent skills due to their laser focus. For the rest of us, the phones may be a much smaller segment of our overall process and may need some attention to be handled well.
With that said, use these 10 differentiating methods to guide your efforts and leverage your telephone skills into exceptional customer service.
- Smile – you’ve heard it before, but because it can be heard and sensed over the phone, it’s definitely worth mentioning.
- Show Patience – while this might seem obvious, we often underestimate it. Our phone handlers often hear the same questions and concerns repeatedly, so rushing or interrupting sometimes happens accidentally and as a result of their ability to predict what the customer is going to say. Just be mindful of this and remember to listen.
- Be Attentive – in particular, keep in mind that the keyboard can be heard over the phone. You should only be typing when the customer believes you are doing something for them. If they are mid-story and hear you typing, they will know they don’t have your full attention.
- Ask Questions – show engagement by asking follow up questions as the customer chats with you.
- Be Conversational – avoid the awkward silence while you are looking something up and ask a thoughtful question about weather or plans the customer might have for the weekend. It helps put them at ease and shows that you are considerate.
- Acknowledge – use words and sounds of affirmation so that the customer can hear that you are engaged and understand what they are saying.
- Listen and Repeat – summarize what a customer has described to make sure you have understood and to show them that you were listening.
- Show Empathy (my favorite thing!) – let them hear you laugh or cringe or groan. Make the same expressions and gestures you would if they were in front of you because they can hear it over the phone!
- Provide a Warm Handoff – make sure that if the customer’s question or concern requires the help of another person that you explain the situation to that person, and that they acknowledge that understanding the moment they hop on the line with the customer. Making a customer repeat and relive an annoyance or a question is rude and silly when you can instead show consideration and be prepared to resolve when back on the phone.
I hope these tidbits have helped you and have given you something to bring back to your organizations! Is anyone out there teaching the warm handoff method? I’d love to know!