Excellent customer service is essential to running a profitable business. Think about your most recent customer service experience. Was it pleasant, uneventful, or frustrating? How consumers feel about a company directly results from the service they receive. Whether you’re a small or large company, providing outstanding customer service starts with proper phone etiquette. Here are ten simple and impressionable ways to improve your business phone etiquette.
- Express a warm and friendly greeting
Customers call businesses expecting a professional and warm welcome from an employee eager to assist them. Setting the call’s tone is essential to portraying a positive company image from the start. Establish a consistent call introduction, including the company’s name, your name, and your department, if applicable. This helps ensure each customer feels welcomed and knows they’ve reached the right person at the beginning of the call.
- Communicate clearly
Speak clearly and avoid rushing through phone calls. Representatives have a responsibility to ensure customers understand the information communicated. Speak at a normal pace, take pauses, and check for understanding with the caller. Ask questions to ensure you are clear and offer to repeat yourself when necessary. Match your customer’s knowledge. For instance, if your customers are business-to-business experts, speak their language. However, if your customer is part of the general public, make an effort to simplify complex processes into simple terms and avoid internal jargon the customer may not be familiar with.
- Listen and take notes
Good phone etiquette is as simple as active listening. A smart practice is to take notes to remove the need for customers to repeat themselves. Jot down pertinent information that can help you assist the customer in making a buying decision or closing a sale. Use the same notes to document the customer’s account for future follow-up when appropriate.
- Be transparent and proactive
Be honest and realistic with deliverables. Open discussion about customer expectations and policies can help customers make informed buying decisions and circumvent concerns before they arise. Avoid simply telling a customer what they want to hear; instead, learn positive ways to deliver bad news. If you’re actively listening, taking notes, or accessing a customer account, look for product enhancements, prevent future issues by pointing out notable features that are often missed, etc. Do what you can to provide your customer with better results and help avoid a future unfavorable phone call. Customers will be comfortable doing business with you as a trusted expert.
- Use phone hold and transfer features properly
Excessive hold times and dropped calls are the top grievances many customers express. When placing a customer on hold, disclose why they are being placed on hold and an estimated hold time. If the hold times exceed what is expected, check in with the customer periodically to update and ensure the customer is still able to hold. For customers who are pressed for time, offer a callback and follow through. When transferring a customer, explain who they are being transferred to and why. If it’s possible, complete a “warm transfer” when you update and introduce the customer to the new representative who will further assist them. This avoids the customer being accidentally disconnected or becoming frustrated for having to start over, especially in an escalated situation.
- Be calm and empathetic when dealing with angry customers
Angry customers often call for issues that can be resolved easily but escalate quickly when mishandled. Handling angry customers requires a calm demeanor, confidence, and a sincere willingness to help. If a customer becomes agitated, maintain your composure by reminding yourself that the client’s anger is not personal. Put yourself in their shoes and maintain courteous and helpful communication so that you can properly assist them and turn the situation around.
- Eliminate unnecessary background noise
Whether you answer phone calls remotely or in an office, managing background noise can be challenging. If you maintain a home office, set up a separate area away from the rest of the home. In an office, keep background noise such as side-bar conversations, inappropriate music, and unprofessional noises to a minimum. Create a professional environment free of unnecessary distractions that could offend or disrupt a customer’s experience.
- Monitor tone of voice
When communication is restricted to the phone, your tone of voice is vital in delivering a positive customer service experience. The nicest things can be said to a customer in the wrong manner, and unfavorable news can be easier to swallow if delivered correctly. Tone of voice can display disinterest, frustration, sarcasm, friendliness, and eagerness to help, without the customer ever seeing you. Monitor your tone of voice by managing your thoughts and body language. Slouching, playing with your phone, rolling your eyes, and having negative thoughts about your job can unexpectedly show up in your tone. Instead, sit up straight and ensure your workspace is comfortable. Set aside distractions and remain optimistic about ways your job helps you reach your goals. Most importantly, stay objective and unbiased in all customer interactions.
- Remain professional
It can be tempting to share personal information with frequent or chatty customers. Resist the urge to let personal matters, opinions, and beliefs become a part of the conversation, even when a customer asks. Remain pleasant and keep the phone call focused and professional.
- Have a consistent and professional call close
Your close is the curtain call to each conversation. It’s best practice to conclude every customer service phone call by thanking the customer and branding the call with your company name. At times, it’s helpful to include the next steps, a recap of the issue resolved, and any scheduled follow-ups if necessary. A proper close ensures the customer’s needs have been addressed and is ready to end the conversation before hanging up.
Maintaining positive phone etiquette can set your company apart from the competition in the age of social media and higher demand for good customer service. An exemplary customer service plan for your business requires professionals like Responsive Answering Service. Responsive Answering Service is a highly skilled call center and answering service with professional-level customer service agents that cater to a wide array of industries. Each agent completes the specific in-depth product and customer support training catered to your company’s needs. We enlist the highest standards in quality and service levels in the industry and understand that creating satisfied repeat customers and attracting new customers often starts over the phone.
To explore our affordable professional call center and answering service options for your business, contact us at Responsive Answering Service.