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How to Have Excellent Customer Service on the Phone

How to Have Excellent Customer Service on the Phone

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How to Have Excellent Customer Service on the Phone

You may not work at a call center, but with the current socially distant climate you might feel like you do! With more people seeking information and services in less physical ways, there’s more pressure and demand on making sure you have a top-notch online presence and excellent customer service on the phone. 

It’s easy to be genuine in person and offer smiles, eye contact, and a helpful manner to ensure your customers get the best customer service experience. But when most of your contact with customers is on the phone, how do you make sure they know you really care? 

If you need to brush up on your customer service skills on the phone, we have a few tips for you!

1. Use the customer’s name

2. Be an active listener

3. Be respectful of time

4. Be sincere, upbeat, and positive

5. Apologizing helps

6. Stay informed

1. Use the customer’s name

The first tip for how to have excellent customer service on the phone is to use the customer’s name throughout the call. 

In his famous and timeless classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie insightfully observes, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” 

People love hearing their names being said out loud. It captures their attention and makes them feel a personal connection, which increases trust.

When speaking in person, it’s easy to overdo this tactic and end up sounding contrived, ingenuine, and a little awkward. But on the phone, without the aid of body language, addressing the customer by name often is highly encouraged to help maintain a connection and their attention. 

2. Be an active listener

Another vital way to exhibit elevated customer service on the phone is to be an active listener. 

If you deal with a high volume of customer service issues on the phone, it’s easy to become complacent and somewhat automatic in your approach. You might let your mind wander, sticking to a script of automated answers without really listening to the customer’s unique problem. This can make you seem ingenuine and leave the customer feeling unheard.

Active listening involves listening with all the senses and fully concentrating on what is being said. The way to combat complacency in customer service on the phone is to ‘listen on purpose.’ In a face to face conversation, it is easy to exhibit active listening with physical cues and body language. But without this ability on a phone call, it becomes a bit of a challenge to make sure the customer knows they are actively listened to. 

Here are a few ways to incorporate active listening on the phone:

Verbal cues 

This involves injecting some small, specific words or phrases into the conversation while the other person is talking to help let them know you are still with them and listening. Uttering things such as “okay,” “I see,” “for sure,” etc. can all have this effect.

Echoing 

Echoing is repeating the last word or phrase of the person speaking. This serves a similar purpose to the verbal cues but emphasizes even more that you are specifically listening to what is being said.  

Paraphrasing 

Paraphrasing is re-stating what the other person just said, but more concisely. This clarifies both the listener and the speaker and ensures that what is being conveyed is being understood.

Summarizing 

When a customer has a complaint, they tend to get to the point in a long, roundabout way of listing grievances. By paying attention to the complaints’ root cause, you can summarize the core idea of what you just heard. Offer this summary to the customer as a way to make them feel sure you understand the main point of their call.

3. Be respectful of time

No one likes to be on customer service calls forever. So one of the most significant ways to have great customer service on the phone is to respect the customer’s time

Don’t leave customers waiting. Answer calls promptly, and try not to let any phone calls go unanswered. If you must put them on hold, don’t forget about them or leave them holding for too long. Keep your answers and responses informational, but concise. 

The less time a customer has to spend focused on a problem or issue the better!

4. Be sincere, upbeat, and positive

Another way to make sure you are offering the best customer service on the phone is to remain sincere, upbeat, and positive throughout the call.

As mentioned before, it’s easy to become complacent and apathetic if you’re handling an increased volume of phone calls at your business. But if you answer the phone in that attitude, it will instantly convey a lack of concern to the customer about their issue, and make them feel unwelcome. 

However, suppose you offer an upbeat and positive tone right away. And make an effort to let the customer know you sincerely want to help. In that case, they will be much more open to solutions and have a better customer service experience. This will help ensure that they will be a repeat and happy customer.

If you’re struggling with conveying this enthusiasm and sincerity over the phone, there are a few physical aids you can employ to help:

Close your eyes 

Without someone physically in front of you to focus on, it can be easy in a phone conversation to let your mind wander while the other person is talking. If this happens, you might miss what the customer’s unique issue is about. Then you might just provide a general scripted answer, and leave the customer unsatisfied. 

A simple trick to help you concentrate on the person on the other side of the phone is to close your eyes! Closing your eyes keeps you from being visually distracted by your surroundings. And it helps you focus on what is being said.

Stand up and move around

If a customer calls later in the day, you’re likely just getting physically tired from the toll of the day itself. This lack of energy can come across negatively over the phone, making an impression you don’t intend. Give yourself a boost of energy by taking the call standing up if you can! And better yet, move around a little, too. It will get your blood pumping and your energy up a little. And you’ll be better able to convey an upbeat attitude. 

Smile!  

This one might seem counterintuitive when the person on the other side of the phone can’t see you. But studies show that people can actually tell if you’re smiling because your voice sounds different when you’re smiling than when you’re not. A smiling voice is warmer, friendlier, and more welcoming, and your customer will notice the difference!

5. Apologizing helps

When learning how to have better customer service on the phone, it’s important to remember that apologizing helps

You’re most likely not actually to blame if a customer is calling to complain about a product or service issue. But as a representative of the company and the issue or complaint, it will generally be necessary to apologize on behalf of the organization as a whole. 

If nothing else, just making an apology for the inconvenience of the customer having to make the call in the first place will exhibit empathy. That will put the customer more at ease, downgrade heightened emotions if they are upset, and overall make them easier to deal with throughout the conversation.

6. Stay informed

Lastly, an important way to have excellent customer service on the phone is to be as informed as possible about your company, its products, and its policies. 

The more informed you are, the better and quicker you are at answering questions. The less phone tagging or being placed on hold you put the customer through the better. 

The more knowledge you have of your company, the more confidence you will have to solve customers’ problems on your own. When you have to refer to supervisors, patch the customer over to someone else, make them endure extensive dead time while you search for the answer, or make them have to give their info and recite their complaint or concern again, it all just adds to the frustration.

Additionally, utilize some expert methods for explaining information well so the customer can easily understand the solutions. A great example of this is the concept of “structured explaining”:

Being an informed and helpful problem-solver and making the phone call easy for the customer is one of the best ways to make sure your customer service on the phone is top-notch.

Love this content and want more? Read more about local business tips here! And don’t forget to subscribe to Dock Line Magazine so you can get more helpful content like this sent straight to your email!

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