Working in customer service isn’t always easy. In many cases, you’re fielding complaints and negative comments, requiring plenty of tact and patience. In other cases, customers have questions about your product or service, which means you need to be knowledgeable about what your company offers.
Yet, your job is critical to the success of your employer and the company’s bottom line. You’re representing the brand and working to maintain happy customers. Without them, your company will flounder.
When it comes to phone etiquette, it’s more than just what you say that’s important, but also how you say it. Your word choice, tone and active listening skills will all impact how a customer perceives you.
If you’d like to improve your phone etiquette skills, there are a few key areas to focus on. Here are 5 tips to follow to help customers, impress your boss, and advance your career.
#1: Introduce Yourself.
Rather than just saying hello, it’s important to introduce yourself to the customer. You can say, “hello, my name is X and I’m happy to be of assistance today.” This will offer a more professional impression and help to establish credibility with the customer.
Also make sure the phone doesn’t ring more than three times before you pick up. Ringing for a long time or sending the customer to voice mail can communicate that the company doesn’t care about customer service issues. Set the tone from the start that you’re ready and happy to help.
#2: Use a Friendly, Calm Tone.
During your greeting, be sure to speak clearly, calmly and project your voice so the customer can hear you. Keep in mind that it’s more difficult to understand voices over the phone versus in person. One reason is that people can’t use your body language for cues as to what you’re saying.
So don’t feel rushed or talk too fast. Make sure you’re speaking in a way that is easy for the customer to understand. Also, use an upbeat tone, not a monotone one, to showcase your interest in the customer and your eagerness to help them. This will help the customer trust you more and will make you come across as confident and competent.
#3: Listen Without Interruption.
When the customer is talking and explaining their problem, listen actively and jot down any important notes. Don’t cut them off or interject when they’re still talking. Pay attention to everything they are saying, so you can eventually respond appropriately.
As you’re writing, you might also note any questions you have so that when the customer is done speaking, you don’t forget to ask them. This will help to ensure you fully understand the problem before offering a solution.
#4: Work Toward a Solution.
If you’re not 100% sure what the issue is, ask questions so you can hone on the problem. You can say things like “If I understand you correctly, you’re having a problem with X.”
This shows that you were attentive and listening and also ensures the solution you come up with is the right one. It might take some back and forth before you truly grasp what’s going on and how to help the customer. But be patient and willing to listen, so that you’re able to work together toward a solution they are satisfied with.
During the process, show empathy to defuse any frustration or anger the customer is feeling. Don’t give them more of a reason to be upset. If they’re especially angry, put yourself in their shoes. Also keep in mind they might be having a bad day and inadvertently taking it out on you.
However, it’s your job to be understanding and highlighting the fact that the company cares about its customers and wants to ensure they are happy. This will go a long way in creating loyal customers.
#5: Find Answers.
Its ok to say you don’t know something. If you need to find an answer, put them on a brief hold. Or, if it will take longer than a few moments, get their information and ask if you can call them back with the answer.
It’s better to take the extra time to provide accurate answers than to offer incorrect information. Customers would rather get a correct answer than a fast one. Remember, what you say not only reflects on you as an employee, but on the whole company, too.