So much of modern communication takes place on a screen – text messages, email correspondence, online chat, social media – that proper telephone etiquette often falls by the wayside. Since voice contact still accounts for a large daily part of a business, professional call centers value a respectful and responsible approach when dealing with customers over the phone. Successful call centers are built from the way they conduct themselves on the phone, which requires a unique set of skills and adherence to guidelines that are to be followed.
First Impressions Count
With every call taken, call center agents are not only ensuring that all calls are answered promptly, but also serving as first contact between the brand they represent and the customer. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so it is vital to put your best foot forward as soon as the phone rings. Since a majority of people hang up if their call is not answered within five or six rings, always answer the phone as quickly as possible to avoid losing potential customers and giving the indication that the company is slow or indifferent.
Polite and Friendly
Throughout the call, keep in mind that the customer’s experience with you will help to form their initial opinion of the company you are representing. Adopt a polite and informative disposition and pair it with a personable, helpful, and confident tone. Conversing on the phone is much different than communicating online or talking face-to-face because there is no visible body language or facial expressions that one can use to help decipher meaning, and minimal time to formulate a response. Professional phone conversations hinge on the manner in which you conduct yourself and your tone of voice – remember, what you say is as important as how you say it.
Know Your Stuff
Before and during each call, make sure you know what you are going to say before you say it. You may find it useful to take the guesswork out of the equation by answering the phone each time with a standardized greeting that makes the customer feel welcomed, appreciated, and reassured. From there, pay close attention to the customer’s words and provide assistance where you can. If they need to be transferred to another department, be certain that you make the right connection and introduce the customer by explaining their concerns so that they do not have to repeat their story to the next person.
Permission to Hold
We have all been there – your call finally gets picked up, only to immediately be banished to “hold purgatory” with nary a word. It is disappointing, confusing, and aggravating. If you answer the phone under less-than-ideal circumstances and absolutely need to put the caller on hold right away, always ask first. As long as you answer politely, thank them for calling, and ask respectfully if they would not mind holding, most people are willing to wait a few extra moments to receive your undivided attention. They will not wait forever though, so try not to leave them on hold for longer than 45 seconds.
The Right Ending
When the call is coming to an end, remain warm and patient and refrain from rushing the customer off the line. Once you have asked if you can provide any further assistance, thank the customer for their call and use their name to firmly establish a personal connection as you wish them all the best for the rest of their day. Finally, do not terminate the call until the customer hangs up. By practicing proper phone etiquette, you can help to create a long-lasting relationship between company and customer.
At KPI Connect we have trained all our staff in proper phone etiquette to be sure that they are representing your brand with the out-most respect to your customers.