Improving customer service telephone manners

That “front line” telephone introduction can be a positive experience or a virtual punch in the mouth. If customer service telephone personnel have been taught just to deliver identical conversations and not have the ability to capitalize on their own personal styles, chances are the needs of the consumer are not being addressed. More than scripted monologues, there needs to be two-way conversations, but all customer service representatives should have the following basic elements deeply etched into their professional lives:

  • Every telephone conversation should begin with a warm, friendly greeting; it creates the foundation and the atmosphere of friendliness and cooperation.  Instead of just answering, ” Smith, Jones Computer Repair ”  wouldn’t it be more customer friendly to answer, ” Good morning, Smith, Jones Computer Repair; how may I help you?”
  • Smile when answering the phone. Even if there has to be a mirror on the desk next to the phone, a customer can sense when someone is smiling.
  • Every representative should show enthusiasm on the phone. It’s that positive attitude that shows customers the company cares about them. It is with my most sincere hope that every customer representative is aware that chewing gum or eating while speaking with a customer is an absolute “no-no.”
  • The tone of voice used can make a difference. Is the conversation strictly business, or is there room for personal thoughts? This would be a case-by-case scenario depending on the business involved.  Employees still should be able to adapt their own personal style and adapt it to the company’s advantage.
  • Never get angry with a customer. We all know that the customer is not likely to be angry with  the customer service representative, but if they are angry, it is best to let them vent; it’s not personal. Ask questions to show that the business cares about them, and always be a good listener.
  • Don’t get carried away with company terminology the consumer has no idea what it means. Each company has their own technical language which may sound completely alien to a customer, and a company does not want the customer to feel dumb.
  • Keep the transfer of calls to a minimum. If the representative needs to transfer a customer to a superior, make sure the superior is there to accept the call. How frustrating is it to be transferred and then have to leave a voice mail?  That doesn’t portray a caring company; it’s just another extension with a ” sorry I am away from my desk or helping another customer” recording.
  • Don’t put anyone on “hold” unless the customer is told how long they will be on hold, and make sure the customer service representative keeps their promise.

It’s very much the “how” we do it, that keeps customers happy, because if a company doesn’t do it to the satisfaction of customers, there’s  always another company waiting to take your place. Again, it’s the little things that really do make the difference.

photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives

One Response to “Improving customer service telephone manners”

  1. Suzy Meriwether said:

    Apr 08, 10 at 10:19 am

    I agree with you, and I’m happy to report that most of my recent expsriences with call center agents, including ones from my Telecom company, have been pleasant. But the discussion completely falls apart when the agent is unable to help me. Either they don’t have the information, they aren’t authorized to resolve the problem, or they can’t help. Recently I”ve had friendly conversations with E*Trade about some data they are missing – preventingme from completing my taxes. After multiple calls to them and promises from my account manager to call me back, I’ve not heard a single word. Yes, they were pleasant, but no, they did not help me. Am I a happy cusotmer with E*Trade? No. Will I be leaving them? Yes.