T-R-A-N-S-F-E-R: Transfer Properly

I actually saw this in a book I was reading a few weeks ago. The book is called Super Service (McGraw Hill) by Val and Jeff Gee (Amazon.com link). It was an interesting read and something that I’d suggest companies have new customer service representatives read to give them a basic overview of what “super service” is and how to do it. It’s not really a book for managers, but for the representatives.

Here is what they say representatives should do when transferring a call (as you can tell, it spells out the word “Transfer”):

  • Take time to communicate: “Linda in accounts will be able to answer your question.”
  • Request permission: “May I add Linda to our call?”
  • Add calls while remaining on the line: “I’ll stay on the line until Linda joins our call.”
  • Never use the term “transfer.”: “Linda will be added to our call. Is that alright?
  • Stay on the line until the problem is resolved: “Thank you for holding. This is Linda from accounts, Mr. Bachman; I’ve explained your problem to her. Linda, this is Mr. Bachman.”
  • Focus on solving all the customer’s issues: “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
  • Empathize with your customers: “I know how frustrating this must have been for you. I hope the problem is resolved to your satisfaction.”
  • Remember you can make this a great experience: “I’m very pleased to be of service. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

I think this is an excellent system. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary for a representative to stay on the line after the problem has been explained to the new representative and the new representative has successfully joined the call.

Once the new representative has joined the call, the first one should say something like “OK, Mr. Bachman, you’re in good hands now. Linda will be able to resolve your billing problem. If you have any other technical questions, feel free to call us back. Have a great evening!” This gives the customer confidence in the new representative he’s dealing with (hopefully) and ensures that he doesn’t get disconnected in the transfer process.

The most important part (as you can tell because I made it bold) is to explain the issue to the new representative. Never make the customer explain the issue again. So many organizations make the customer explain the issue three, four, five, or more times before the customer gets to the right person and subsequently gets the issue he or she called about resolved.

Tomorrow’s post will be about a company that recently impressed me (further) with their customer service excellence. I don’t usually write posts about specific companies, but since I recently wrote one about a bad experience (though not fine, thankfully), it may be time for a good one. I’ve created a new category called “Specific Companies” for such stories or any post where I mention a specific company.

3 Responses to “T-R-A-N-S-F-E-R: Transfer Properly”

  1. Service Untitled » Customer Service Acronym Finder said:

    Oct 17, 06 at 11:58 am

    […] I’ve talked about the use of acronyms before. They can be fairly useful, but there is a fine line between stupid/annoying and actually useful. Plus, too many acronyms can just create company specific jargon that everyone has to learn. […]

  2. Service Untitled » Generalists or Specialists? - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Jan 29, 07 at 12:40 pm

    […] The problem that Tom points out is that as companies become more specialized, more transfers are needed. I agree with him – as both a consumer and as a customer service consultant. Most companies are terrible when it comes to efficiently and effectively transferring a customer to another department (they obviously haven’t read about the T-R-A-N-S-F-E-R method). They don’t know who to transfer the call to and when they figure out who, it is the wrong person anyways and/or they don’t transfer the call properly. However, some companies are quite competent when it comes to transferring, so this problem doesn’t apply as much. […]

  3. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » Don’t do a “blind” transfer. said:

    Oct 16, 08 at 11:05 pm

    […] wrote about how to properly transfer customers quite a while ago, but I think the issue needs to be brought up again because it is so important. […]