This week’s blog post is contributed by a very special guest, actually more like a guest star, Nancy Friedman, better known as “The Telephone Doctor.” The author of the recently published book, Customer Service (finally) Defined – Ideas, Tips, techniques & Skills You Can Use Now and Forever, and eight other books, Nancy is simply one of the best keynote speakers on customer service. (Can you tell I’m a big fan?) Named by meeting planners as one of their “favorite speakers” by Meetings and Conventions Magazine, she has a natural gift for entertaining an audience that will engage and inspire every attendee to deliver a better customer experience. Find out more about Nancy and how you can connect with her via her website, email or social media platforms at the end of her post.
Every business has one thing in common. Phone calls. Inbound or outbound; service or sales. How these phones are answered and handled is critical.
New software and hardware is constantly coming into the marketplace and yet, the one thing that remains constant is how these phone are answered, no matter WHO answers it.
Telephone Doctor has a near foolproof plan on improving customer service that will boost your employees moral, and more importantly, your callers will feel they have definitely “called the right place.” By using only a few of these Telephone Doctor tips, you will raise awareness and increase customer satisfaction.
- We’ll start with the obvious. SMILE. And be sure you use our Telephone Doctor motto, smile BEFORE you answer the phone. Often times, it’s simply too late to smile after you know who it is. There can be no discrimination when you answer the phone. Everyone gets a smile before you know who it is.
- Assure the caller they have “called the right place.” This needs to be said before you ask for any information. It’s very frustrating to be interrogated before you welcome the caller. If you need information, be sure you welcome the caller first.
- Be a good listener. Often times, this takes practice. If your mind wanders or you find yourself “not terribly interested” in the call, customer or the caller, you need a good listening course. Listening is an art, NOT a science. It needs to be practiced.
- Take notes. Take notes and then take more notes. It’ll also help you become a better listener. By jotting key words as the caller talks, you can refer back to any point in the conversation and the caller thinks you’re a great listener. It can be very dangerous to be on the phone without a pencil and paper. “What did you say” isn’t great customer service. Good note takers become great on the phone.
- Use buffers. “BUFFER WORDS” in Telephone Doctor language means the words before the key point. “Good Morning,” “Good Afternoon,” or “Thanks for calling” are buffer words for your company name. Use buffers when you ask a question too. Just blurting out a question can become offensive. Using a soft buffer before the actual question is an excellent technique to learn. Example, if you need to ask several questions to gain more information, a good buffer might be, “Mrs. Jones, so that we can get you exactly what you need, I’ll need to ask a few questions.” That way the caller or customer is notified, prepared and expects the questions rather than feeling as though you’re bombarding them with one question after another.
- Take your time. Remember Telephone Doctor Cardinal Rule – “Rushing threatens callers.” Sure, you may need to take as many calls as possible, but at no time does anyone want you to sacrifice quality for quantity. There are many ways to ask questions that can help move the conversation along.
- Stay in control. Sometimes it seems as though a caller can wander off into another world. It’s up to us to get them BACK ON TRACK. There are several ways to do this. One is to tell the caller, “The story about your great-grandmother sounds very interesting, but I know you called with a specific question and I’m eager to help you.” In other words, you’ve acknowledged what they’re wandering off about and yet you’re still in control. Indeed, some calls or situations are more challenging than others. When you learn to stay in control it’s much more effective for all. Enjoy it! And have fun!
7.1 And when all else fails, go back to tip #1.
Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a featured Customer Service speaker at Franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets, around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Financial News. The Author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy’s passion to help corporate America improve their communications, is second only to the material she delivers. You can see her books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman’s website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org