Dealing with your customers
Many businesses and corporations today have phone centers and help lines to talk with customers and potential new clients, but without proper training we can really hurt the image of the business or place we work for because we are ill prepared. There are a number of techniques and training exercises we can do as phone center representatives and marketers to improve the customer service experience and to improve the image and sales figures of the place we work for.
This one seems so unbelievably obvious but it's surprising how often this topic is overlooked. On the phones customers have concerns, questions, product orders, and topics they want to discuss and we as the representatives need to listen to their every need. If the customer says something that you have heard a hundred times over the year from prior customers, don't immediately tune out and wait for them to stop talking so you can tell them the answer. This is not only rude because you aren't attentive to them, but they could be asking a question you have never heard before. If you are tuned out and missed their question you could spit out the usual information or advice and in turn get a response of "that wasn't my question". This is when things get awkward and you have to work double time to resolve that call. Always listen to your caller all the way through and hear them out, you just might have to take on a new issue you haven't dealt with before and listening to them the whole time will give you an edge in finding a solution to their problem or helping them get the product they need.
Get in their shoes
When you are talking to a client or a customer on the phones, you have to get in their head in a sense. This means that you have to understand their need or their question and go from there. If you called up and had a question and got a response and an attitude of "You are my 100th caller and I go home in 5 minutes, hurry up", then you would be turned off and take your business elsewhere. Get in their shoes and understand that when they call it's their first time calling you where this may be your 100th call. This means treating them like your first call of the day and not like another call, and this attitude will go a long way in providing a greater degree of success in your customer satisfaction and customer relations. This attitude can also cause sales to increase, as when people feel they are treated right they talk about your business and spread the word. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of marketing because it's free and effortless on your behalf.
Expressions and gestures
There's a saying that "people can hear a smile". This may sound silly but the results have proven true all over the world and in phones centers across the globe. If you sound nice but you look miserable your voice will begin to project that attitude and feeling, whereas if you are smiling and using gestures and expressions then it translates on the phone. Enthusiasm is impossible to portray with a straight, uninterested expression on your face and in your body language. I've found that when I use hand gestures and smile my enthusiasm translates over the phone line to the person I am talking to and it actually leads to a better experience for both you and the caller. This can easy be implemented in any call center or help line as you have the ability to change someone's life or cause them to have a great day even if they are having a bad day. I can't tell you how many times I personally had someone call in that was angry and in a bad mood and cursed me out, but my humble attitude and gentle touch in my voice and care defused the conversation and actually blessed him so much he was laughing and happy at the end. We have the capability to change any situation around when we have a caring attitude and a gentle caring voice.
Train train train
Businesses and companies need to continually offer new training and ways to get these messages to their employees and phone center representatives so that they can help their callers and be as efficient and kind as possible. Continuing education classes and reminder seminars keep the employees fresh and are worth the investment of time, money, and energy in forming these classes. People that are on the phones constantly can get tired, bored, and agitated with the constant flood of requests and questions they get so having these reminder courses will not only help them and refresh them, but also show your appreciation towards them and give renewed passion and desire to help the people calling in that need help.
In the end answering the phones has to be something you at least somewhat enjoy or else all the training in the world won't help you. You can't be successful in helping customers on the phones and giving them the help they need if you don't have a desire to be on the phones at all. Some people are terrified of talking to customers, while others can't be bothered. This is important for consideration by both the employee looking for a job and for the manager that moves his departments around to best serve the customer. Keeping people who like talking on the phone and enjoy helping customers are the ones you want on the phones, as not everyone is the same. Some people enjoy working alone or in a group while others love the phones and talking to the customers to get them the products they need or the help to the questions they have. Having the right attitude is important and that genuine expression projected through your voice over the phone will aid you in getting great customer service and satisfaction.