Phone-savvy or just phony? Tips for improving your customer service skills

Phone-savvy or just phony? Tips for improving your customer service skills
by: Custom Toll Free , August 15, 2017

In an environment in which businesses compete neck and neck to build relationships with customers, providing excellent customer service is absolutely crucial.

Research backs that up. In a recent survey of B2B companies, 43 percent rated customer experience as more important to their business strategies than products or price, and study authors expect that percentage to hit 50 percent by 2020.

Companies skilled in customer service grow their brands by creating positive customer experiences at every touch point, on every channel. For businesses reliant on phone communications, that often means training personnel to reflect professionalism, positivity and a willingness to help in their words, voices and inflections. In the absence of nonverbal communication, which some scientists believe makes up a huge portion of all communication, voice can be everything.

“Developing excellent telephone customer service (in both tone and words) is one of the most valuable business skills you can acquire,” states a recent article on how-to site “When you deal with customers over the phone, you have a whole new set of etiquette rules.”

So how can you work with staffers to improve their phone personas? Consider the following:

– Become ultra-easy to reach by phone for customers who prefer that channel. Make your phone number prominent on your website, on your social media and in your ads, and keep your call centers staffed during optimal calling times.

– Record actual calls and critique them with your staffers, noting possible areas for improvement.

– Demonstrate how smiling during a call physically moves the back of your mouth in such a way that sound waves are more fluid, making your voice sound friendlier, warmer and more receptive.

– Marketing and customer service scripts have their place, but many personnel are more effective (and gain more credibility) when they aim for genuine exchanges with customers.

– Teach personnel the difference between a flat, slow monotone voice that denotes boredom and a quicker, higher-pitched, upbeat voice with multiple inflections that convey interest.

– Demonstrate how inflection can completely change the meaning of a question or statement.

– Ask your agents to enunciate and avoid overly complex vocabulary that might be misunderstood.

– Encourage agents to use customers’ names at least once in each transaction.

– Advise them to focus on what they can do for the customer, not what they can’t do. Statements to avoid: “I don’t know” or “I can’t do that.”

– Ensure they know how to wrap each call on a positive note by asking if they can help with anything else.

– When it comes to handling complaints, teach them to listen to the customer’s whole story at least once without interrupting him, then briefly repeat back their understanding of the problem before attempting to solve it.

– Empower your staffers to appease angry customers with freebies or discounts. Bad reviews lodged online by unhappy customers can cost more than a written-off product or service.

– Use every digital tool available for identifying and analyzing incoming callers, including DNI, call tracking, call routing, caller analysis and/or a CRM that can track each customer’s stage in the buying cycle. You’ll save your time and your customers’ time when their identifying information is at staffers’ fingertips as soon as customers call.

When all is said and done, some customers will remain committed to being unhappy (or even abusive) no matter how they’re treated. In such cases, direct staffers to respond calmly and professionally before disconnecting. In the long run, showing support for your people can be more important than continuing to try to salvage a customer relationship.

Talk to Custom Toll Free for more ideas about making incoming phone calls work toward your bottom line.

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