Customer service is the key to retaining customers. In today’s busy times, tele-service and social media play an important role in keeping in touch with your customers.
While some encounters are face to face, customers rely heavily on calling up to sort their issues. And easy and timely service on the phone can go a long way in strengthening your brand. Here are a few sure fire ways to achieve that:
1. Smile: Yes! Research has proven that a smile can be heard on the phone. Apart from being a mood booster, a smile can also put you in a positive frame of mind as you begin speaking to a customer. Especially when you are tired!
2. Acknowledge the customer’s problem: Whether a customer has a question or a complaint, acknowledge their concern. Let them know that you welcome their call and you are sorry to hear about their troubles with your service.
3. Don’t sound robotic: I think this is one of the biggest challenges as a customer service executive on phone. If you read a script, you sound mechanical. And even if you don’t, the routine of responding to similar queries everyday can kill the feel of it. But remember that you are speaking to real people and they expect you to treat them that way. Use tip#1 above – and you’ll sound a lot less mechanical!
4. Use the customer’s name: At least twice in a phone call – beginning and the end of the call. You can look at other possible opportunities during the call. But make sure that you don’t go overboard with it.
5. Offer alternatives: Your knowledge of products and services offered is key here. If you cannot do what the customer wants, ensure that alternatives can easily fill the need gap. Your customers will only be grateful for your resourcefulness.
6. Positive words: Instead of “I regret to inform you…” or “Unfortunately….”, try to phrase your objections positively. Maybe look at what you “can” do for them instead of what you “cannot”. So your sentences can begin with “I’ll be happy to… ” or “May I suggest an equally viable alternative…”
7. Listen “actively”: It is very easy to get distracted as the customer goes on about his problems. Focus! Either close your eyes to reduce visual distractions around or make notes – jotting down key words should be enough. And then you can ask follow up questions, if required, based on it.
8. Verbal nods: It is very important for your customer to know that you are listening. Especially since phone conversations have no visual cues. So give your customer verbal nods like “Hmm.., “Okay..”, “Yeah…”
9. Repeat to clarify/summarise: Just to ensure that you got the customer’s story right, it is always a good idea to rephrase/summarise what he just said. This can be pretty critical if you are in problem solving mode. Ensure that you bring out the solution that matches the exact problem of the customer.
10. Enunciate: Whenever I take the emergency seat of a flight, I am amused at how quickly the air hostess mumbles the safety instructions. You may spell out the same solutions day in and day out. But every customer you speak to is unique and deserves clarity in speech.
11. Mean it/be genuine: When you say that you are sorry to hear about the problems a customer is facing, make it sound genuine! Continuing from the previous point, no one wants to listen to a robot and a little empathy in your voice will go a long way.
Special tip: If it is possible, take some calls standing up! Especially during low energy periods! You will not just feel energetic, you will also notice that energy reflect in your voice too!
12. Educate the customer: Some of the often repeated complaints can be nipped in the bud by just educating your customers. If customers are informed about specific processes or turn around times (TAT), they may wait patiently or just follow those precesses themselves saving that call to the call centre.
13. Echo customer’s emotion: While you acknowledge the customer’s call at the beginning, it is equally important to do so whenever required in the call. Happy, sad, concerned – make sure that you echo the emotion. “I am happy to hear that…” “Oh I am sorry that it abruptly stopped working…” “I understand your concern and will help you with the easiest solution”
14. Ask relevant questions: I don’t mean it like interrogation, but asking the right kind of questions. Whether it’s a question seeking information or confirmation, questions can go a long way in helping your customer find the right solution.
15. Each call is an opportunity: Remember that each call is an opportunity to win customer loyalty by treating your clients right. One hassle free call to the customer service and the customer is here to stay.
16. Be patient – This is one thing you want in large quantities! Customer service is a stressful and taxing job. Keeping up your spirits for every customer will need a lot of patience.
17. Be extra patient: Especially since irate customers can call in unannounced! If the customer is angry, your best strategy would be to be extra patient. Let the customer say whatever he/she has to say. And then jump in to help. Once the customer loses steam, it’s pretty much standard procedure from there.
Think about your own experiences with executives on phone. Your customers want to be treated exactly how you want to be when you get on a call as a customer. Can you think of any other tips that can be included here? Do you want to share any of your own service experiences that stand out in your memory for being good or bad? I’d love to hear them in the comments.