The telephone is part of customer service. It is the avenue through which many of our customers get their first impressions of our business. Telephone etiquette is so critical because satisfying customers over the phone is often more challenging than serving face to face.
Every customer calling your organization should receive a positive and seamless service that is professional, efficient and responsive. Customers who are handled well will notice the good service, bring more business and hopefully build a long term relationship with you. Customers who are not handled well damage your reputation and take their business to the competition.
Basic needs of the customer on the phone
•To be recognized and remembered
•To feel valued
•To feel appreciated
•To feel respected
•To feel understood
•To feel comfortable about a want or need
Opening of the call
•Pick up the call in not more than two rings
•Use caller’s name
“Good Morning, This is Lisa on the line, How may I assist you today?”
Putting customer on hold
•Get the customer’s response
•Revert In time
•Thank & Conclude
“Mr. Mehta, may I put on hold as I need to check the status with our repair division?”
“Thank you for staying on line, I would require few more minutes to get you the information. So, would you prefer to stay on hold or a callback from our side?”
“Thank you for staying on line, I appreciate your patience”
Transferring the call
Why? Where? Whom?
•Give the details of the customer to whom line is being transferred
•Inform the customer about the person to whom line is being transferred
“May I put on hold while I transfer your call to our manager?”
“I’m transferring your call to our manager, Miss Seema Sehgal”
“Seema, I have Mr. Mehta on line who has following complaint”
If the caller does not wish to be transferred, offer to take a message and assure the caller/customer that you will personally see that the right person gets the message. After you hang up, MAKE SURE THAT YOU DELIVER THE MESSAGE to the proper person.
•Information to be given
“Summary…… Is there anything else I can help you with? This was Lisa on the line and thank you for calling Brightpoint! Have a pleasant day.”
Most Frequent Caller Complaints
Remember that presentation is everything. Treat callers as you would hope they would treat you. The way you present yourself on the phone can leave lasting impressions of you and your department.
•The telephone rings for a long time before it is answered
•They place me on hold for sometimes, it seems, hours
•The line is busy for hours it seems
•They are very rude and get offensive when asked their full name or sometimes just won't give it
•They let me talk on and on only to realize that they're not the person I should be talking to
•If I call the wrong department for help, they don't give me suggestions to where I should be calling, they just say, 'I don't know, not our department”
•They don't clearly listen to my needs before they transfer me to the wrong person
•Sometimes they disconnect me while transferring my call
•They told me to call back, but never gave me a name or number or division to ask for
•The person says, 'Wait', and then talks to other co-workers without putting me on hold so that I can't hear their small talk
•They answer with an aggravated voice, as if I disturbed them by calling
How to Handle the Complaint Call
When you receive a complaint call, remember to lend an EAR --
•Empathize with the caller
•Apologize and acknowledge the problem
And in your responses, avoid these forbidden phrases:
•"I don't know." It sounds as if you're closing the door on the caller or that you're not sure what's going on in your own office. Better to say: "That's a good question. Let me check and find out."
•"We can't do that." This sentence is extremely negative. Be positive. Try this: "That's a tough one. Let's see what we can do."
•“You’ll have to..." sounds accusatory. Try instead: "Here's how we can help you."
•"No," when it begins any sentence. It sounds as though you're not willing to help. You may not be able to do one thing, but you can do something. "We aren't able to do that, but we can...."(Because there's always something you can do.)
Guidelines for Handling Complaints
•Don’t take it personally: To the maximum extent possible, do not take problems and complaints personally
•Never Act on a Complaint Without Hearing (At Least) Two Sides to the Story:
Most complaints and problems stem from different perceptions of subsets of the same facts. Arm yourself with as complete a sense of the situation as you can get before you commit to a course of action
•What “Everybody Knows, Nobody Knows.”
This is a corollary to the preceding precept. If someone tells you about a problem and
asserts that “everybody knows” that it is happening, this is a good time to start asking
how the person reporting it comes to know about it, and also for dates, times, places and the names of other people who have relevant information. It is remarkable how many widely known “truths” have no factual basis
•When in Doubt, Leave it Out If the sentence about to come out of your mouth begins “I know you won’t like hearing this, but...” or if your better judgment is telling you not to say something, don’t say it. Emphasize facts and decisions, ask quiet questions, and avoid explanations of motives
•Never Attribute to Malice that Which Incompetence Will Explain
We are far too fast to attribute bad motives to others when, most of the time, bad things happen through inattention, inaction, or
•Say What You’ll Do and Do What You Say; Set the Time Frame
Once you’ve decided upon a course of action, even if it’s just to talk to various people to gather information, follow through on it
•In the Absence of Facts, People Make Them Up What they imagine is usually worse than the reality. Don’t leave people who are distraught
or worried hanging for long periods of time. (The definition of a “long” period of time will vary proportionately with how upset the person is.)
You do not have to transcribe meetings word-by-word, but have some reasonably orderly system for noting the date, who was present and the gist of meetings that involve complaints.
•Trust Your Instincts
If you feel anxious or fearful when dealing with a situation, trust your instincts and call upon someone else for help.
How to be effective on the phone
Remembering these points will help you to be sharp and professional in the way that you talk over the phone.
•Have an Aim
When making an outgoing call. Always know what you want to discuss.
•Tailor your style to that of the person you are talking to
Busy people often prefer a clean cut, direct approach with a bare minimum of social chat. Others may prefer a more sociable approach. Tailor your approach to their style (unless they are miserable or rude!)
•Give concise answers to questions
Long rambling answers are unprofessional, dull and confusing.
•If you don’t know an answer, say so
If someone relies on you when you are guessing, and your guess is wrong, then they will never trust you again. If you do not know something, say you will get back to them with a firm answer.
At the end of the call, summarize the points made. This ensures that both people and you agree on what has been said, and know what actions will be taken.
•Don’t talk to anyone else when on the phone
This makes you organization look small. Put the other person on hold, then talk.
Identify the caller
“What’s your name?”
“What do you want?”
“May I ask who’s calling”
“May I have your name please?”
“Could you spell your name please?” or “I didn’t catch your last point – would you mind repeating it. It sounds important.”
Don’t keep the caller waiting. Try to keep any evidence of hurry, worry, boredom, or annoyance out of your voice.
•Mind your Language
Remember to use those magic words – “Please, May I and Thank You”
Avoid the use of slang or of expressions that may be seen as over familiar. For example” Yeah, Ok, Don’t be funny, Right”
Ensure that you have a telephone pad handy; in fact make it an unbroken rule to use it consistently.
“Not on her seat”; “Don’t know where she is”; don’t know when he’ll come back”; “Not come in yet”
15th January 2010 From India, Visakhapatnam