12 Tips To Improve Your Phone Customer Service
Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business. It doesn't matter how large or small.
Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business. It doesn't matter how large or small; if a company lacks customer service, it can harm their reputation. In addition, handling inquiries from day to day can become monotony and produce inauthenticity to customers. One must remember that your customers keep the company in the business, and you must treat them with respect and kindness. Good customer services can set any company apart from the rest, making your customers feel appreciated and valued—thus improving customer retention rate. You can do a few things as a business owner to improve customer experience.
Active listening is when you respond to a customer's inquiry by asking the appropriate questions to understand better. There are a few components concerning the success of active listening on a personal level as well as business level. On a personal level, you cast a good impression on the customer, letting them know that you care, which boosts satisfaction, thus boosts sales. You may learn first-hand things you can improve surrounding your products or services to adjust accordingly on the business level.
Pleasant Tone of Voice
Have you ever listened to your voice on a recording? You will recognize that you sound different than what you have always thought! Our tone changes all the time, especially when we are stressed, confused, and angry. And since there is no physical interaction with hand gestures and body language, it makes the tone of voice more essential when speaking to customers over the phone. Some customers may not be that pleasant to speak with, but your tone can make a difference. An easy thing to help you with having a more pleasant tone is to smile. This technique is usually effective because when you are smiling, your tone of voice automatically changes.
Express Willingness to Help
This is a simple tactic yet very effective. You can effortlessly show a willingness to help at the beginning of the call to set the tone. When one of your customers calls in (or you call them) and they express their concern, you can show a willingness by saying something like, "I'd be glad to help you with your bill." Make sure you reiterate their concern and not, "I'll be glad to help you with that." Why? Again, you don't want to sound scripted, and reiterating their concern shows them you are listening and make them feel at ease right from the beginning of the phone call.
Know When To Ask for Help
It is ok to ask for help. No one knows all the answers. And customers will appreciate you wanting to find answers for them. It is better to have a confident answer than a wild guess of stuttering and stumbling over your words. The customer may lose confidence in your ability to help them and ask to speak with someone else or hang up. Therefore, it is best to ask a colleague or supervisor. Tell the customer, "I'd be happy to find that answer for you, give me one moment so I can go ask my superior." This tactic shows that you are honest, willing to help, and you value their experience.
Short Hold Times
Sometimes you will need to put the customer on hold to find an answer or do a quick calculation, etc., which is perfectly fine. But no customer likes to be on hold for an extended period. It doesn't matter if it is a mute hold or a music hold; having your customer wait can eventually lead to a hangup, and you may not be able to get them back on the phone. That is why it is best to tell the customer first that you will need to place them on hold, tell them why, and make sure you refresh them every few minutes. During the hold procedure, you can refresh them by saying, "thank you for holding, I do appreciate your patience. I am still working on finding you a solution and need a little more time." If they no longer want to hold, then ask for a number and time to call back. It is best to keep them on the phone for as long as they can fathom being very pleasant throughout the hold procedure.
Please and Thank You Go a Long Way
What your parents taught you at a young age goes a long way in customer service. Especially answering multiple questions over the phone to a stranger may feel intrusive to customers. There is a big difference saying, "what is your name?" instead of "may I have your name, please?" Saying "please" lightens the mood. And right after they answer each question, follow-up with "thank you." This shows appreciation for their cooperation, and they are typically willing to answer more questions.
Empathy is the jewel of customer service. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes, showing the customer you understand them and want to help. It adds the human touch to a customer service experience, showing that you understand. Empathy is medicine to an angry customer, that can almost immediately de-escalate any phone call. Empathy sounds like this: "I would be upset too," "I am a consumer myself, and I also would feel the same way, "I would have reacted the same way." They may feel like somebody finally understands them, even though they may be entirely in the wrong.
Acknowledge Their Concerns
One of the best things to do in customer services is to acknowledge what the customer is saying. It lets them know you are listening to them and value them as a customer. This is especially key when speaking with difficult customers. It lets them know that you are listening to what they have to say. They will eventually be more willing to work with you, and it may be a lot easier to relay news that may not be what they want to hear. Acknowledging their concerns can be, "I understand what you are saying" or "I understand you were looking to lower your bill, correct?"
Being confident also ties in with knowing your job. Know your job beforehand so you can be confident in your responses. As mentioned above, you may not know the answer. But saying things such as "I don't know," or "I think," or "probably" shows a lack of confidence. And when you sound unsure, the customer may not trust you going forward. Therefore, saying, "let me find the answer for you," or "let me check into that for you," along with a good tone, will have a more positive effect. Try to calm your nerves and take deep breaths during the phone conversation (while muted) to avoid too much stumbling and stuttering over your words.
Know When to Be Quiet
Sometimes we get into the bust of calls, and we already know what we want to say and want to get to the next call in the queue. Or may want an extended conversation to end with a very wordy customer. The best thing to do is to be quiet. Allow the customer to talk and listen for specific cues that may tell you exactly what they want, which can help you end the call professionally, especially if it is an irate customer. Allow them to vent first, and after a while, kindly ask to speak.
We are all human, and we forget. Note-taking can help you keep track of a conversation. You can write down their name, address, what they purchased, when they bought the item, or who they spoke with previously—whatever is essential to that conversation. Note-taking is best used while you are silent and actively listening to the customer by asking the right questions to collect essential data. You can grab a pen and paper, or you can use a notepad program on your computer. You can also leave sticky notes on your desk or surrounding your computer monitor. Whatever is more comfortable with you.
Use a Script, But Don't Stick It
Scripts are necessary to help make sure you are hitting critical points on a call. Companies sometimes use s since so much risk is involved around customer interaction. But customers can smell a script from a mile away! It makes them feel they are just another customer, and they aren't valued at all. As you become comfortable, it's best to memorize and use scripts as a reference only. Scripts may have a simple call opening, such as: "Thank you for calling (company name). My name is Sue. How can I help you?" Then a willingness to help with statements such as: "I' be happy to help you with (blank) today, may I have your name please?" Then there are situational scripts that vary. You want to sound as personal as possible. You can even joke with your customers from time to time but remain professional. Let them know you are human too.
The best customer service experience is about understanding and treating the customer with the utmost respect and kindness. Why? They help keep you in business by purchasing your product and services and paying for your salaries and wages. It is best to return the favor with excellent customer services to improve customer retention rates and maintain a good reputation.
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