- Use the caller’s name.
Using the caller’s name shows you are genuinely interested in your customers and makes future dialogue or problem solving much easier because using names helps you create rapport.
- Give the caller your name.
Giving the caller your name demonstrates accountability and communicates a sincere desire to help. It also gives customers a reference should they need to call your company back.
- Apologize in the wake of problems.
Whether you’re dealing with a long wait time for service or product or service mishap, an apology goes a long way to disarm an angry customer. Keep in mind the fact that customers expect an apology whether the error is their own or the fault of the company. Always apologize and be sure your tone sends the same message.
- Always get permission to put a caller on hold.
We assume that customers have the time to hold, but that is not always the case. It’s polite to ask the caller if it's all right to put her on hold when you need to quickly research something. Simply ask, “Are you able to hold for a few moments?” And of course, wait for an affirmative response.
- Tell the caller what you’re going to do.
We’ve all felt helpless on the telephone when we’ve been put on hold indefinitely or transferred to three departments and still not talk 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 department, give them the name of the department and the person you are connecting them with. If you need to place callers on hold, tell them so and ask if that’s acceptable. Finally, inform callers. If you have trouble finding the person they are trying to reach, explain the situation diplomatically, and then give options.
- Thank the person for calling.
Customer feedback adds value to organizations: Customers are giving you a second chance to satisfy them and they’re giving you feedback that can help you make business improvements. Express your appreciation for this valuable contribution by saying, “Thank you for taking the time to tell us about this. We appreciate customers who let us know when things aren’t right.” Many customers will be shocked. All will remember you with goodwill.
- Let your 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 satisfying customers is much easier because your customers feel taken care of every step of the way.
Myra Golden is an award-winning professional speaker and principal of Myra Golden Seminars, LLC, a customer service training firm serving clients in food and beverage, banking, healthcare, hospitality, and other industries. Her client list includes McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Michelin Tires, Pirelli, and Procter & Gamble, among many others.
For hundreds of ideas for customer service improvement for use in customer service training, visit the customer service training resource portal by going to http://www.totalcustomerservicetraining.com