1. Be enthusiastic. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” said the very quotable Ralph Waldo Emerson. I believe this same principle applies to our communication with customers. The difference between a mediocre phone call and a call that WOWs the customer is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm (n) is 1: a feeling of excitement 2: overflowing with enthusiasm [syn: exuberance, ebullience] 3: a lively interest. Try to convey a lively interest to your customers and that one change will take you from mediocre to WOW in less than 5 seconds.
2. Use customer’s names. Using names shows you are genuinely interested in your customers and makes future dialogue or problem solving much easier because using names helps you create rapport.
3. Smile through the phone. You can actually hear a smile through the telephone. When you smile, you sound friendly, interested, and helpful. You also make the customer feel that your sole intent is to be of service and people really can tell the difference!
4. Get permission before putting customers on hold. According to a Telephone Doctor survey published in USA Today, the one thing customers hate more than anything else relating to the telephone is being put on hold. Certainly, there are times when you must put a customer on hold, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. Wrong way: “Please hold.” The right way: “I need to look this information up. Are you able to hold for a moment?”
5. Avoid saying ‘No’. Sometimes the only answer to a customer’s request is ‘no’, but we must use diplomacy and tact when refusing requests. Try this approach: “I can certainly respect your desire to speak with our president. My president has me in this position so I can work with customers like you. Will you please give me an opportunity to solve the problem?” this response politely explains that there will be no escalation to the executive office and it offers a sincere interest in helping the customer resolve the problem.
6. Express empathy. Empathy can be a powerful tool used to disarm an angry customer and show that you genuinely care about the inconvenience the customer has experienced. Not to be confused with sympathy, empathy is Identification with and understanding of the customer’s situation and feelings. You can express empathy by saying something similar to, “It must have been very frustrating for you to have endured the inconvenience of a potential error on your credit report and for that I am sorry.”
7. Apologize in the wake of problems. The simple act of apologizing to a customer can go a long way in diffusing anger, restoring customer confidence, and regaining goodwill. Not only that, it will most often decrease the cost of remedying customer problems.
8. Give customers your name and contact information. Giving the caller your name and contact demonstrates accountability and communicates a sincere desire to help. It also gives customers a reference should they need to call your company back.
9. Thank customers. Always thank customers for doing business with you or, in the case of problem resolution, thank them for their feedback. Expressing appreciation for feedback is as simple as saying, “Thank you for taking the time to tell us about this. We appreciate customers who let us know when things aren’t right.” When you express appreciation, you are not taking responsibility for the problem that was the fault of the bank and you’re not apologizing on the bank’s behalf. You’re merely expressing appreciation. Many customers will be shocked with your gratitude. All will remember you with goodwill.
10. Let the customer hang up first. It’s polite to let your caller hang up first and in most cases, your caller will hang up within 2 – 4 seconds of the last spoken word. If we rush to disconnect, we may cut off a customer who had one more question or we can give the impression that we are in a hurry (which is interpreted as “we don’t really care”).
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