Telephone Etiquette Tips for Superior Customer Service

May 24, 2013  |     |   0 Comment

Every connection an employee has with a customer – or potential customer – is vital to the profits of any business.  Customer service etiquette principles should be integrated into every facet of your organization because providing superior customer service is the most effective way to cultivate long-term relationships with clients; build customer loyalty; and differentiate your business from the competition.

Relationships are at the core of business success.  How we communicate with one another impacts our relationships.  There are many ways we communicate with our customers.  Telephone interactions, for example, have a significant impact on how successful one’s relationship will be with a customer or potential customer.

Here are eight telephone etiquette tips to keep in mind if you wish to provide superior customer service in order to build long-term, loyal, and prosperous relationships with your customers:

(1) Focus on Your Telephone Greeting

A telephone greeting should be warm, friendly, and professional.  When answering a call from a customer or potential customer, always begin the call by stating “good morning” or “good afternoon,” then state the name of the company, then your name, and ask how you can help the caller, such as:  “Good morning. Thank you for calling ABC. This is Jane.  How may I help you?”

(2)  Focus on Your Listening Skills

One of the most important techniques in telephone etiquette is to actively listen to the customer. Listen for both the content as well as the intent. Usually the customer tells you both in his or her opening statement. By listening actively to the customer’s opening comments, you can then respond with a statement that assures the customer that he or she has been heard.

(3)  Empathize With Your Caller

In other words, walk a mile in caller’s shoes. For example, if a customer calls and complains that they have been calling to schedule an appointment, that that no one has answered their call, that the call went straight to voicemail, that this is their second call to you and they wonder if you really do want their business…….how should you respond?!

Pause for a moment and then respond in an empathetic and respectful manner: “Yes, we do want to serve you and I apologize for the inconvenience.  I would be very happy to assist you.”

(4)  Extend Common Courtesies to Your Callers

Ask permission to place a caller on hold and get the caller’s attention when you return. Most of us can remember all too clearly a time when we were placed on eternal hold and wondered if we had been forgotten. For example, if the customer has called to request information about an invoice, ask: “May I put your call on hold while I pull a copy of your invoice?”

To gain the customer’s attention when you return to the line, address the customer by name and wait for her response. Such as: “Ms. Smith? (pause for her to respond)…Thank you for waiting, I do have the invoice information you requested.”

TIP: if you know the wait time will be a few minutes, tell the customer before you leave the line.  This will help to reduce the potential of the customer becoming irritated by a lengthy wait period.

(5)  Always Offer Solutions or Alternatives

If you know you are not able to accommodate or assist a caller with respect to what he or she may be requesting, tell the caller what you CAN do. There are usually alternatives that a customer will be willing to accept if you just take the time to offer!

(6)  Focus on the Tone of Your Voice

Since you are not interacting face-to-face, the most important measure of good communication over the phone is voice quality and tone. Keep it positive and enthusiastic. Remember, the image the customer has of the person who is answering your company’s phone is the image the customer has of your company. Is the voice of the person answering the phone flat, monotone or upbeat and perky? Is it abrupt, indifferent or polite and empathetic? Answer the phone nicely – be nice to your customers. Always have a smile in your voice.

(7)  Always Show Appreciation to Your Callers

Before a telephone call ends with a customer, make sure you have expressed sincere gratitude for the customer’s patronage. Such as: “Thank you for choosing ABC. We appreciate your business, Ms. Smith.”

(8)  Always Go the Distance for Your Callers

Run an extra mile for every customer that calls – every time! Take time to extend yourself in some way to make a positive, lasting impression on the customer.   Be your company’s ambassador and watch your company flourish. Providing exceptional telephone service is nothing more than following “the Golden Rule” that we all learned as children – do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

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