Who doesn't love a good game of "Role Play"? When it comes to customer service, your representatives are speaking for you, so it's wise to train new staff by acting out a host of pleasant and not-so-pleasant plots that they can expect to face in the real world. Better now with you, rather than later with actual potential or paying customers. Tweak the following customer service role-play scenarios to suit your particular business setting.
Play "The Greeting" Game Because First Impressions Matter!
"Hey, how's it goin'?" might be a completely acceptable way to greet a young neighbor or a buddy on the street or over the phone, but it's typically considered unprofessional and possibly even offensive or at least drab in the land of customer service. So, come up with appropriate role-play customer service scripts for greeting your guests aka sales prospects. For teaching purposes, have the trainer play the customer service representative first, while the trainee plays the customer, and then reverse roles for practice. Act out suitable situations: For instance, to greet a customer who just entered a retail store, acknowledge her immediately by making eye contact, smiling and saying, "hello" or "good day" in a cheery tone. It's polite to allow retail customers to wander for a minute or so before asking, "Can I help you find something?" or "Have you been here before?" Body language, such as someone appearing to be unable to find what they're looking for, should trigger an immediate offer to help.
It's best if telephone greetings are consistent throughout your customer-service team. For example, a simple greeting like, "Brothers' Auto Sales and Service. Joe speaking. How may I direct your call?" is sufficient, just remember that tone of voice and articulation are vital. After all, you can't hear a smile, and mumbling is downright annoying.
Live-chat customer service lacks both voice and face-to-face interaction, so it's important to always present yourself in a cheerful, polite somewhat casual manner, a bit like you're speaking to a good friend. Play out online chat dialogue with trainees: The typical greeting goes something like, "Hey, Andy, thanks for contacting Ace Computers. I'm Sherrie. How can I help?" Use your discretion: The way you'd greet someone on a teen-clothing site, for instance, would be much different from how you would welcome someone on a funeral-arrangements website.
Avoiding the "I Don't Know" Scenario
In an everyday chat with family and friends, if we don't know the answer to a question, we commonly say, "I don't know," and that's fine. As a customer service representative, however, such an answer instills doubt and distrust, not confidence. Instead, practice answers such as "I'm happy to get that information for you. Can you give me a moment?" with your trainees. Complete the role-playing scene by putting the trainee customer on hold, thanking them for their patience when you return with the answer to their question.
Role Play for Closing a Sale
Aside from establishing a stellar reputation, the ultimate goal of any business is to close as many sales as possible. Customer service exercises for role-playing should include this all-important skill. Practice sales scenarios, using the soft or indirect close with lines such as, "How did the sweater fit?" or "What do you think of this rate plan?" To practice the hard or direct close, you could say, "If you don't have any more questions, I'm happy to complete your order." or "I can have the contract ready by 2 p.m. if that time works for you."
Dealing With an Angry Customer
When a customer feels ignored or that he's being treated unfairly, it's common for him to get angry. No one likes to be yelled at, but a little preparation can empower your customer-service team to handle such difficult situations in a cool-headed manner. Set up a few scenarios to help new reps deal with the common upset-customer issue: One of quickest ways to extinguish a verbal fire is to side with the angry person, letting him know that you understand why he feels the way he does, apologizing for the mistreatment or whatever the possible offense may be and offering to work through the problem with him. Being heard and understood has a calming effect and usually helps people to think more rationally.
Role play customer-service scripts not only help you to train your representatives, they equip your team with confidence, enthusiasm and a consistent voice that portrays your business in a good light.
- Help Scout: How to Handle 8 Challenging Customer Service Scenarios
- Conversational: 4 Ready-to-Use Phone Greetings That Engage Callers
- Business News Daily: Customer Service 101: Phone Etiquette for Small Businesses
- Corporate Dynamics Inc.: Role Play Techniques for Closing the Sale
- Bob Phibbs the Retail Doctor: Retail Sales Strategy: How to Approach A Customer in a Good Way
Lorna Hordos is a home-improvement business owner and freelance writer. She has written hundreds of conversational business articles for WordPress.com, Bizfluent, AZ Central and Global Post.