Call center agents are solutions experts who have the opportunity to make an impact on others with every call. You are the caller's connection to the answers they are hoping for, and so call center etiquette and personal management skills are key to your success. Develop a good handle on providing friendly service to make your customer interactions more enjoyable, while cutting down on work-related stress.
Smiling Is Good Phone Etiquette
When people call a customer service call center for help, they are usually experiencing a problem or have a concern. It provides the customer with emotional relief and hope to hear a smiling voice on the other end of the line. As a bonus, smiling increases serotonin in your brain, which helps you to feel happier and less stressed. Reduced stress makes it easier to be friendly and helpful to each customer throughout the day, or to endure a stressful call with resilience.
Listen Without Interrupting
Customers who are feeling stressed or concerned want to feel heard more than anything else. Proper phone etiquette is to listen to customers without interrupting. Take notes in your system or on paper to remember important details and best serve them. When you listen carefully to customers' needs, your are practicing good phone etiquette, but it also makes it much easier to serve them well, find solutions and share helpful information that meets their needs.
Identity and Relationship
Everyone loves to feel cared for, especially customers who have questions and concerns. Keep conversations focused on the customer's relationship with your company. Use the customer information system to find information about your customer or any past conversations, rather than asking the customer to repeat information he has already shared. It is good call center etiquette to validate his concerns and to use the tone of your voice to reassure him and diffuse any tension.
Use Hold and Transfer Appropriately
Customers appreciate companies and call centers who value their time. Use the hold button when you need to confer with a supervisor or colleague, but be careful not to leave the customer on hold for long. Acting with a friendly confidence concerning matters that are within your ability to correct, but for things that are better served by another department or supervisor, be sure to transfer the customer quickly, to keep the total call time as short as possible.
Communicate Clearly and Follow-Up
Communicate clearly during your call and be sure to use a friendly tone of voice. While your company may have scripts, use them as a reference point rather than a word-for-word guide, unless your supervisor has asked you to do otherwise. Authentic communication is worth its weight in gold when it comes to phone etiquette and customer satisfaction.
Keep your customer informed when you are investigating solutions. Let her know before you put her on hold and tell her how long you expect to be. If you are transferring your customer to another person, let her know to whom and why. Give the customer a direct line phone number to call back, in the event she is disconnected. If possible, stay on the line to introduce your colleague to the customer personally, and to ensure your colleague is briefed on the customer's needs.
If the customer's solution requires you to take additional steps, let her know that she can expect a follow-up email, or that her concern will be resolved by a certain day or time. If anything changes, follow up with the customer with updates.
Please and Thank You
Please and thank you go a long way regarding phone etiquette, especially when said with a smile. Remember to thank your customer for calling at the beginning and end of your conversation. When you need information from your customer, use please when requesting it and then thank him. When you must put a customer on hold or transfer him, ensure you are using please and thank you during the process. Basic manners help customers to feel valued, which makes them want to continue their relationship with your company.
Practice Emotional Management
Sometimes customers are angry before calling you, or they may have been on hold for a long time before finally speaking with a person. Whatever the reason, occasionally customers get angry and lose their cool. This is the time to practice your emotional management skills to help diffuse the situation and keep your stress levels as low as possible. Breathe deeply and slowly as you listen. Take notes and serve the customer with the same kindness you would show to any other caller. Often, your calm and caring response is all that is needed to diffuse a tense situation. If possible, take a short break following the intense call to shake off some of the stress and get back into a positive frame of mind and ensure your next caller receives the kind care they are worthy of.
Anne Kinsey is an entrepreneur and business pioneer, who has ranked in the top 1% of the direct sales industry, growing a large team and earning the title of Senior Team Manager during her time with Jamberry. She is the nonprofit founder and executive director of Love Powered Life, as well as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach, certified HRV biofeedback practitioner and freelance writer who has written for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle and Our Everyday Life. Anne works from her home office in rural North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three children.