We’ve all had to make that dreaded phone call to the customer service department of a company at one point or another. Whether it’s about trying to fix overages on your cell phone bill, calling a credit card company or something else, you won’t find “calling a customer service agent” on a list of fun things to do.
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Don’t make your customers feel like this. Get them engaged in their communications with you. This is obvious but it never hurts to get a friendly reminder: treat the customer service experience very seriously. Someone who’s had a bad interaction with your company is likely to spread the word and discontinue using your products or services.
Here are some simple tips for improving a customer’s experience when interacting with them over the phone.
Smile Like You Mean It
There’s a reason that smiling is always suggested as a way to improve how you deliver customer service. You can literally hear if someone is smiling or has a blank expression on their face, even if you can’t see them.
For a customer, a friendly voice is one thing that tells them that you genuinely care about their problem and want to help them solve it.
You may not have been conscious of this when speaking to customer service reps on the phone but it’s likely that their tone affected your mood during the interaction. Test it out by getting a friend or family member to call you. First, tell them to speak without smiling. After a few moments, get them to switch to speaking while smiling. Hear the difference?
If you’re not used to doing this as a customer service agent, encourage the habit-forming behavior. Stick a note somewhere on your desk reminding you to smile during all phone interactions. Or go a step further and do what Nestle does: put a mirror at your workstation so you can actually see yourself smiling.
Use Their Name
Dale Carnegie said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
In fact, research shows that hearing one’s name activates certain parts of the brain more than hearing other people’s names.
Calling a customer by their name will get their attention. It signals to them that you see them as a human being, not just a number.
As a result, they’ll feel more comfortable speaking with you because you’ve added a personal touch to the experience. Your name sounds much better than “Hey you!” or “How are you, sir/ma’am?” Just make sure you don’t go overboard with saying their name otherwise it will make for an awkward interaction.
When you’re helping our customers with issues they’re having with your company’s product or service, you’ll likely run into some obstacles. It’s simply a natural part of the job. You may offer a solution that they’re not thrilled about. Since your job is to make the customer happy and try to exceed their expectations, make sure you offer alternative solutions.
By exercising your creativity, you can find workarounds and figure out multiple ways to help a customer. Present them with various options so they could form more informed decisions. One example is with various website development options out there including free solutions such as WordPress, Blogspot and more professional ones including Wix, Weebly, or customized solutions.
That being said, the ability to do this stems from having a deep understanding of the company culture, the technologies it uses and its products/services. Not to mention, you must be willing to ask questions when there is a gap in your knowledge.
Speak with Positive Language
Don’t use words like “I can’t…”, “Unfortunately…” or “You failed to…”. This would certainly apply to situations where you need to provide alternative solutions. Instead, use phrases like, “I’d be more than happy to offer…” or “I have a solution will be able to help you….”
Using positive language focuses on what can be done rather than what can’t be done. By being mindful of this, the customer will view you and the company in a favorable light. As you saw with names, a small change in word usage can make a huge impact.
Be an Active Listener
This sounds obvious but it’s surprising how many people fail to do this. When a customer is telling you about their problem, give them your undivided attention. Don’t get distracted by things like your phone or your computer. Some ways to show you’re actively listening:
Use “verbal nods” like “Mhm” or “Ah yes, I understand”
Repeat what they’re saying back to them (paraphrase, not word-for-word) – this solidifies what they’re saying in your mind and shows them that you understand the issue at hand
Ask questions for clarity – this will give you more information about the issue that the customer may not have provided
Don’t interrupt the customer
Delivering excellent customer service isn’t rocket science but it’s a highly important part of driving success. Beyond using these tips, a company and everyone in it must instill it deep into the culture. That’s how you truly achieve fluency in great customer service.