Many businesses rely on telephone services to communicate with their customers, whether it is to answer their inquiries, take sales orders, or provide technical support. To help your business succeed, your staff must be trained to provide the best telephone customer service possible. Here are six ideas to help your staff know how to provide good customer service over the telephone.
Using the Telephone to Your Advantage
While it can be difficult to effectively communicate with customers over the telephone, a properly trained staff can provide the type of customer service your customers expect from your business. By paying attention to how customers are spoken to and helping meet their needs, you can satisfy your customers and build loyalty. Also, your company will stand out, and you may receive recommendations from your clients.
The people answering your phones should be trained in how to speak to customers by:
- Using a Pleasant Tone
- Speaking Clearly
- Listening Attentively
- Conveying Sincerity
- Providing Solutions
- Satisfying Needs
Using a Pleasant Tone
From the time a call is answered until the time it ends, the agent on the phone should adopt a positive, natural tone that puts the caller at ease. Although it may be a cliché, callers should be able to hear agents’ smiles through their voices. No matter what the reason for the call, when the telephone is answered in a positive manner, customers will feel more at ease to discuss their business.
Even if callers have complaints, when they hear a positive tone in the agent’s voice, they will feel more confident about the agent’s interest in helping to resolve any issue they have. If agents sound like they are bored or in a bad mood, it conveys to callers that their business isn’t important, and it can worsen the callers’ moods. To prevent this, everyone answering your company’s phones needs to project a positive attitude with their voices.
As important as a positive tone is, it is also vital that the people answering your telephones speak clearly so the caller can understand what is being said. It can be aggravating to both the caller and the agent to continuously repeat what was said because the agent couldn’t be understood. Your staff should be trained to carefully enunciate their words over the telephone so callers can understand what they are saying.
In addition, agents should not speak while chewing gum or eating food, as these habits can make it difficult for them to speak clearly. Hearing chewing sounds or the crunch of food over the phone may also convey a level of disinterest to your customers that can be off-putting.
Along with speaking clearly, your staff must actively listen to callers in order to help resolve any issues they may have or correctly answer their questions. Active listening involves asking the right questions, not talking until the caller has stopped speaking, and paying attention to what they are saying, along with how they are saying it. It is easy to pick up cues from the caller when agents are listening to what they are saying.
To aid active listening, when questions are asked, they should be open-ended so customers cannot just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This will help agents gather the information they need, and they can get cues to what is important to clients by how they answer the questions. Also, active listening keeps agents from having to ask callers to repeat themselves, which can easily aggravate people.
Your staff must be able to convey a sincere desire to help callers when they answer calls. To do this, avoid having your telephone answering service use scripted greetings, as they can sound artificial and insincere. Always have calls answered by giving the name of your company, the agent’s name, and an offer of assistance.
The agents should also be trained in the products and/or services your company provides. This helps avoid answers of ‘I don’t know,’ which can make it seem that the agent is new or doesn’t care about the business. If agents need help or really don’t know an answer, they should be trained to put the caller on hold to find the answer, or tell them they will find out and get the information to them as soon as possible. In addition, agents should always follow through with any promises they’ve made the caller, such as contacting them with answers to their questions.
A well-trained staff should also be able to provide solutions for callers, either by answering their questions or connecting them with the correct person or department that can help them. For instance, if someone has a technical problem with the computer he or she bought from your store, the agent answering the telephone should know how and where to route the call. When they cannot answer a question, agents should know where to get the answers or which department will be able to help the caller. Your customers will appreciate a speedy response to their issues, even if the initial agent isn’t the person to resolve it.
Satisfying Their Needs
Properly ending a call can help make sure the customer’s needs have been completely satisfied before the agent hangs up. Have agents ask callers if they understood the answers they were given, restate the order or other information, and then ask if there are any further questions. By restating information, the agent or the caller can catch any mistakes that have been made before the call finishes. In addition, the agent can find out if there is any more information the caller may need before the call ends.
Whether you have an onsite telephone customer service department or outsource it, it is vital that the agents answering the phones are trained in your business. This will allow them to help your customers get the answers they need or quickly offer solutions to their problems.