Customer service training means different things to different people, however there will always be common links that run through every type of business. In this blog we explore some of the common traits for excellent customer service. Some of these areas are taken from various customer service training courses throughout the country and are deemed as best practices.
I have decided to concentrate on telephone customer service for this article as it is extremely common nowadays with call centres and contact centres in every city. So what are important things to remember when we are on the telephone with customers.
- Use common courtesy
Some people call these the magic words of customer service and they are so easy to use, but when you do use them it makes the perception of the call much more professional than when you do not use them. We have all come off calls where we feel they have been handled professionally and unfortunately we often come off calls where we feel the opposite
So what are these words?
In every conversation on the phone if we just use these words correctly it will make a massive difference to the way the call sounds to the customer. Often on customer service training we use role plays and you would be surprised at the amount of customer service agents that do not use these words, but if you can get into the habit of using them they will create a far more professional perception
Example: Please may I place you on hold while I check this for you?
Thank you for holding
Please may I take your email address
Thank you for calling today
- The customer cannot see you
Always remember on a telephone call (without skype) the customer cannot see you, that is why it is so important to let the customer know what you are doing. If you need to check something tell them don’t just let the line go silent without the customer knowing why it has gone silent.
This is an ideal time to try and build rapport with the customer of that is important to your type of business. In fact on most customer service training there will be a session on how we should manage this effectively to help us build good customer relationships
- Remember the 3 Vs
It is said when we communicate we use the 3 Vs, these Vs stand for:
So what do these mean?
In simple terms verbal are the words you choose to use
Vocal is the way you say something, your tone of voice, I am sure you have all heard the expression ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say/said it’ and this relates to vocal
Visual is what people see, the body language. Many people feel that body language is only important in face to face customer service. However on many customer service training courses it is said that body language is still important on the phone because it impacts on our tone of voice. In fact many call centres now have stand up desks as opposed to sit down desks as it is easier to control your voice standing than sitting.
If we think about television programmes such as the X Factor we understand that you never see anyone coming on to the X Factor to sing a song while they are slumped or laid back in a chair. It stands to reason that you cannot control your voice correctly if you are slumped on a chair. This means that body language and a straight posture is very important for telephone customer service.
I know we are probably all fed up of hearing this but it is important to try and put a smile in your voice. No customers want to talk to someone who is depressing on the telephone, I often say on customer service training courses that a generation ago people used to say ‘smile as you dial’ the principle still applies today.
For some reason it is said that people can hear your smile in your voice. As well as smiling I believe a word that is really important for this is the word enthusiasm, customer service people should generally be enthusiastic. That does not mean you have to go into your office every morning at 8.30 am and start jumping up and down saying you love your job, but it does mean you have to try and answer calls in an enthusiastic way.
- Scripted opening and scripted close
We only get one chance to make a first impression and how you answer the call will generally set the tone. Often on customer service training we discuss the importance of creating a professional image, the reality is when you answer the call YOU are the company, so you have to create the most professional image you can, you can do this by making sure you have the right words to use and how you say them.
It is said that the best way to answer a call is to follow the format below:
- Greeting: example could be Good Morning/Good Afternoon or alternatively Thank you for calling ABC company
- Name of your company
- Your name
- How may I help you
As important as it is to answer the call correctly it is also highly important to close the call professionally and often on customer service training courses it is said that people remember your last words so we want to get them right.
A nice close would be something like, is there anything else we can help you with, (answer) thank you for calling and feel free to call again at any time.
- Treat customers as a guest
When this is mentioned on customer service training often people say that’s okay for a hotel but not for my business!
Well the truth is if we think of it like a guest new can break the call down to 3 important parts.
- I want you to consider this for a moment, if I called to your home this evening I would expect you to answer the door and welcome me. This is no different than having a good introduction on a phone call.
- While I am in your home I would expect you to treat me with respect and try and help me wherever you could and make me feel welcome. This is no different than the middle of the call, our aim is to establish what the customer needs and provide solutions.
- When it is time for me to leave your home I would expect you to walk me to the door and probably say something like thank you for calling and call again at any time. This again is no different than what we stated earlier to close the call
Finally these are only 6 thoughts on telephone customer service to be honest on customer service training courses these aren’t even the tip of the iceberg as there is so much to learn about telephone customer service that can help anyone in that role