When giving customer service over the phone it is a rule of thumb to go along with what your customer say. This connection will have to go through different stages which we must identify to apply techniques that serve us provide the help that our caller expects.
The following is a description of stages in a telephone call, applicable to customers requiring diverse types of services.
1ST. Stage: Greeting
Greet your caller by thanking for calling and stating the company you represent. This way the other person receives an indication of assurance of where they have contacted and feels welcome as well.
When your name is clearly and accurately provided, confidence and trust are also transmitted and let know the problem is going to be taken care of responsibly, because they are talking to a representative easily identifiable by his/her name.
Your greeting is like when you open the door to a guest in your house. You want to make them feel comfortable smiling and showing your best manners as a host. This way, your friendliness soars from the beginning and your visitor does not feel intimidated. A smile can be heard over the phone and cannot be faked for the reason that it only happens when your face expression and muscles are set in the correct position.
2nd. Stage: Listen
After an initial strong and enthusiastic greeting is delivered, then it is time for the other person to speak and for you to start listening. This is a critical moment because your caller seeks for understanding and you instead, want to know how to rapidly and effectively solve the problem. Be aware of some risks at this point, given the fact that your full attention is required in order to maintain a smooth interaction between both parties.
Listening stoppers are all of those barriers that prevent you from understanding the message received by the sender. Remember, you are now receiving words, structures, tones, cultural phrases and most important, feelings through a distant channel of communication. It could be challenging to grasp comprehension, especially if you are not focused. Putting effort in understanding is listening, letting the words pass from one ear to the other is merely hearing.
They are two different processes, whereas the first is physical –using your ear- and the second is mental, using your thinking. The gap between the amount of words your brain can process and the amount of words that you can hear is another problem. Compare 500 words handling of brain capacity, versus 250 words that most of speakers can say in one minute. That leaves a large space for you to get distracted while someone is telling a story, especially over the phone.
As a second language speaker you face more challenges in understanding as you will try to translate into your native language details of the interaction. This is a strong distraction when in fact, an English speaker will continue talking while your mind is relating those second language constructions with meanings of your native language. At some point, there will be words you will not hear, losing sight of relevant elements of the message intended to deliver. It sounds complicated but fortunately for you, there are ways you can improve your listening and comprehension skills.
The most important you can try is practice. Just as it happens with speaking skills, that it gets better by speaking, you can also be a disciplined listener by putting effort in listening to others. Recognizing sounds and associating them with meanings that will generate understanding before translation.
Other features consider with English speakers are the repetitive patterns utilized to deliver a unique idea. It is a common custom to express the same notion using more than one language construction, thus reiterating the most important parts of a message. The emphasis put in content words through stress and intonation will indicate relevance to pay attention to.
In contrast, there are some phonetic qualities that lessen the stress in a way that make known words sound differently. This is known as reduced pronunciation and occurs in everyday interactions, including those on telephone connections. Make sure you become familiar with some usual oral shapes we have included.
3rd. Stage: Acknowledge
Just like you would do with a friend who is in trouble, you want to take the time to acknowledge all possible fears and uncertainties by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. You need to let the other person know you understand what they say and feel, and how you are there for them. Customers at this stage do not care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.
Therefore, along with an empathy statement you should also convey affirmation. In fact, any time your caller expresses frustration you may do so to establish a type of personal connection that will develop a confident relationship during the interaction.
Acknowledgment of your customer’s situation must be genuine. It’s not enough to just say the words: your tone must convey that you really care about the customer and have empathy.
Remember to have appropriate pace, not too slow or too fast; moreover, we should copy our caller’s rate so that everything said is understandable. Articulating final sounds of letters is essential especially because of possible background noise on distant communication.
Be careful with the words you choose since the person on the other end is someone you do not know, show courtesy and professionalism by using power words and business-like etiquette.
4th. Stage: Solve
Customer places greater faith in you as their customer support representative and is more likely to trust and follow your directions. We can control our customer’s perceptions with the words we use, with our attitude and how we deliver service. Always focus on what you CAN do, as opposed to what you can’t do. Although the situation may be the same, wording it positively enhances customer’s perception. Avoid words like can’t, won’t, etc.
Similarly, if there is both good and bad news to deliver, start with the good. If you lead with the bad news, the customer may become emotional and “tune out” to the good news that follows. Resolving requests, or just listening to complains or claims is the reason why the position of customer care representative exists, so handling those tasks with good disposition is a good signal of your skills.
Just make sure you reflect this attitude through your utterances and the use of language in general. It is as easy to say something wrong as it is to say it right, so think before you say it and bear in mind the effect of what you produce.
5TH. Stage: Closing
This stage serves to reinstate everything that you did for the caller, in the understanding of an initial need or concern expressed. It is also beneficial reminding customers of possible follow up actions to be taken either form one part or another.
Just like you do with a guest in your house, you also want to thank for having called and ask for other concerns that might need to be taken care of. At the end of the call, you will want to conclude by recapping the things you did with the customer to ensure that you have resolved their concerns or issues. This will also give an opportunity to ask final clarifying questions.
Personalize your closing so that a good impression is left. At some point, the customer you had could be surveyed and his perception could be determining for positive answers on levels of satisfaction. Above all, this stage comprises the recap of what happened during the contact, possible actions to be taken afterwards, checks for not leaving lose points, and most important a reinforcement of how effective you were in taking care of the problem.
Your final wording or closing statements should reflect all this and leave the best of impressions at the same time.