How do I quickly give my agents good phone and customer service skills training?

Q. My agents are good at what they do. They know our products and policy up and down, but I am concerned about the level of customer service we provide over the phone. Can you share some telephone customer service tips I can use to train in a short segment (like a staff meeting)?

Smiling receptionistMyra’s answer to How do I quickly give my agents good phone and customer service skills training? 

Certainly, I can! Here are 9 essential customer service tips for the telephone that you can easily use in a staff meeting. I hope it goes well for you! (You might also be interested in our customer service eLearning. It has a module on telephone techniques and another on call control.)

1. Smile -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. So smile!

2. Tell the caller your name – Giving the caller your name demonstrates accountability and communicates a sincere desire to help. It also offers customers a reference should they need to call your company back.

3. Ask questions – You should ask questions for these reasons:

  • Gain information
  • Focus the conversation
  • Gain consensus when necessary
  • Begin the call closure process

4. Paraphrase the caller’s message – Paraphrasing is just restating in your own words, what the customer has said. You will paraphrase to ensure you understand the customer’s request/problem. The customer will clarify if you don’t have all of the details.

5. Repeat the caller’s name – Repeating the caller’s name during a conversation helps you remember their name. Remembering names (and 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.

6. Always tell the caller what you’re going to do – We’ve all felt that helpless feeling when we’ve been put on hold indefinitely or transferred to 3 departments and still not be able to get through to the right person. When we do this to callers, we are telling them they have no choice and certainly no control over the situation. These feelings produce frustration and a negative impression of you and your company. One way to avoid this is to tell callers what you are going to do before you do it.

When transferring callers to another person, give customers the name of the person you are connecting them with. If you need to place callers on hold, tell them so and ask if that’s acceptable. If you have to research the problem or speak with your manager, tell the caller exactly what you need to do.

7. Return calls promptly – Doing this helps you (and the company) quickly gain a reputation for being responsive and professional.

8. Give every caller your best – The caller on your phone is your most important priority, more important than calls in queue, more important than your to-do list, next meeting or anticipated break. Focus on the call and never make the customer feel that you are hurried or not interested.

9. Let the caller 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”).

When you do these very simple things, you will create a great impression for the company, and you’ll find that handling difficult callers and high call volumes will be MUCH easier because your customers feel taken care of every step of the way.

For more customer service help, check out our online training programs for contact center agents.

Now you can give your employees even more great skills for delivering the best customer experience. Sign up for my newsletter, if you don’t get it already – and learn specific tips, approaches, and phrases to help your employees deliver a delightful and friendly customer experience.