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Customer service on the line -€“ five mistakes and how to avoid them

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Customer service is number one and for many businesses, the main point of contact is over the phone. Yet, despite its proliferation in our daily lives, many employees still fail in terms of phone customer service etiquette. Train your employees in how to answer the phone properly and deliver exceptional customer service over phone to ensure you don’t lose customers over silly mistakes.

1. Having a bad day?

Join the club – we all have them. The trick is to not let it affect customer service standards. While an employee may have a bad day, the customer doesn’t need to know about it.

Once the receiver is off its hook, ensure the tone is happy and light, not laden with that day’s troubles. The trick to sounding chirpy is to smile, as corny as it sounds. Try it out – it’s near impossible to sound angry or disinterested while smiling.

2. Be engaged, not engaged

Though it is easy to multi-task when on the phone, don’t. While the customer cannot see you, auditory cues will indicate you’ve already checked out. Because there is only voice, even more enthusiasm has to be injected into the customer service process if any connection with the customer is to be made.

Also, ensure your customer is able to speak with a person, not a machine. While answering machines and automated call answering are helpful tools, they should not substitute for actual customer service. If someone took the time to call your business for information, they have the right to a response.

3. Even temper

Temperament is crucial in customer service. No matter how rude a customer is, it is never excusable to lose your temper. Teach employees to handle criticism or rude customers to better the customer service process. Likewise, never hang up on a customer.

Keep manners top of mind – lace the conversation with everyday pleasantries such as ‘How are you’ and ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. And, when it comes to transferring calls, ensure you ask the customer politely before putting them on hold.

4. Annoying nuances magnified

While the customer cannot see your employees, the phone tends to act as a microphone. Enforce a general rule of no eating or chewing gum when on the phone duty to minimise these problems in customer service. Likewise, ensure employees speak clearly and audibly – though no shouting required – into the receiver.

5. Listen, listen, listen

Above all, listen to the customer. Customer service should let them voice their concern or problem before solving it, even if you know straight away what the issue is. If the answer to the customer’s problem is not immediately known, keep them in the loop – let them know when they can expect a response and stick to it.

Remember that all phone conversations are a point of contact to the business for many customers. It is crucial, therefore, to perfect employees’ over-the-phone skills in customer service.

So, if you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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