Even with the rise of the internet over the past 20 years, a great deal of business is still done over the phone, and if you are one of the millions working in customer service, a confident, adaptable phone manner could be one of the most vital skills in your arsenal. Here we’ll be exploring a few top tips for dealing with everything from conventional customer support to sales and complaints with ease and studied composure.
First Name Terms
There is nothing more off-putting to a disgruntled customer or potential client than being referred to in a passive, formal manner, and the most obvious thing you can do to combat this is to address them by their first names. This helps by personalizing the caller and letting them know that you’re paying attention and don’t just see them as a ‘number.’ If you want to take it even further, try asking them about their day or perhaps a recent sporting, news, or local event that you might both be invested in. Tread carefully though. Some callers might see this as an invasion of privacy so it’s important to properly gauge the situation before making that leap.
When the question is, “How do I approach this call?” there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Treat every call as a unique assignment by listening intently to the caller and adapting your tone and personality of voice to suit their individual formality. For example, imagine you’re working for a mobile phone company. If the call begins “Alright mate, I’m looking for an upgrade for my phone,” you don’t want to reply in an intimidatingly formal manner; you’ll want to adapt to a more colloquial, approachable style. Conversely, if the caller opens with, “Good afternoon, I’m calling to enquire about a potential upgrade for my mobile phone plan,” a confident, formal approach would be most appropriate.
Even if you’re not completely familiar with the subject, it’s important to sound like an expert. Try using anecdotes that directly relate to the product you’re selling or the company you’re representing and build a rapport with your callers; don’t be afraid to be a little cheeky if necessary. When you’re dealing with complaints on the other hand, make it sound like you sympathize even if you don’t by using phrases such as “I understand” or “I know exactly where you’re coming from.”
Although it might not sound particularly important, the way you’re sitting or standing can have a significant impact on your phone manner. Sitting up straight for example will allow you to breathe more naturally and comfortably by stretching your diaphragm and you’ll sound more engaged and focused on the phone as a result.
Know Your Product
Know exactly what you’re representing and adapt your conversational patter accordingly. For example, if you’re representing a company that sells primarily to younger clients (18-30’s holidays for example), take a more relaxed and personal approach and if you’re selling to older clients (for example a life insurance firm) then a more formal, detached manner would probably be appreciated.
Play a Part
If you’re feeling a little uncomfortable then it might help to imagine putting yourself in the shoes of another ‘character.’ This is especially important when dealing with complaints, where many callers can direct their anger in quite personal and hurtful ways. In these situations try to remain impartial and authoritative, like a stern teacher. Stepping outside your own skin for the duration of the call might allow you to project an air of confidence that could make a significant difference to the way the caller approaches you.
Lauren Roitman is a freelance writer who has been interested in the inner workings of SME’s after working as part of a small team of three for several years. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking and being active.
Small Biz Club is the premier destination for small business owners and entrepreneurs. To succeed in business, you have to constantly learn about new things, evaluate what you’re doing, and look for ways to improve—that’s what we’re here to help you do.