From time to time I’ll go through our courses and pick a topic that I think would be interesting, informative or helpful to others. Through doing this I’ve realized that we really are a company that is called upon to practice what we preach, especially when it comes to customer service.

What I mean by that is, amongst other things – we are a content provider, we produce soft skills and computer skills training materials, but as employees, we have to practice those very skills on a day-to-day basis in our roles.

For instance, today I am writing a blog about customer service techniques. We’ve written several courses on Customer Service, from telemarketing, call center training, sales techniques, managing customer service and so forth. As an organization, we have to do many elements of customer service every day, whether that be face-to-face, telephonically, via email or what have you.

Though customer service takes place through a variety of methods, today’s blog is going to focus on telephone customer service.

First though, let’s discuss the basics of customer service, starting by – what is customer service?

Think of it this way, customer service is the way you treat the people who support your company, and the perception they get of your customer service is what will bring them back, or deter them. We know that customer service isn’t always easy though, often times you’re dealing with a customer’s problem, or dissatisfaction.

Providing customer service over the phone can be difficult because you’re missing a critical element of communication, body language. According to research done by Albert Mehrabian – when it comes to emotional discussions, only about seven per cent of the speaker’s emotions is conveyed through words, while 38 per cent of meaning is conveyed by tone, and 55 per cent is told through body language. This means that we have to be very effective with what we say, and how we sound when communicating telephonically.

Let’s go through some techniques that can help us provide a great customer service experience over the phone.

  • Make the initial greeting as smooth as possible, identify yourself, the organization and offer help.
  • Make the customer feel important by personalizing the service. Since each customer is unique, start by ensuring you know and use their name. Write the name down as soon as you hear it and use it in the next comment you make to the person.
  • Addressing a person can be tricky, should you use Mr., Ms., Mrs., it really depends so try to determine what is endorsed within your company to use.
  • Since tone is so important, be sure to work on your telephone voice, you don’t want to speak too loudly, softly or quickly. Get familiar with the telephone system you’re working with, as different systems or headsets can distort your voice so it’s good to test that out.
  • Be sure to have a listening ear on. On the one hand, listen for their tone to try to determine the caller’s mood, but also listen for details so you can get as much information about the problem as possible in order to solve it.
  • Finally, the format for closing. You should always try to summarize the main point of the discussion to ensure you didn’t miss anything. Then, rather than saying bye, close with a friendly phrase such as “is there anything else I can do for you”, “it was nice talking to you”, or “thanks for calling”.

Now that we’ve identified some techniques to help provide a positive customer service experience, let’s look at some best practices for handling those everyday requests you come across, because sometimes we run into situations where the person the customer was looking for isn’t there, you have to transfer the call, put the caller on hold, or take a message.

Think about yourself as a customer, you’ll likely be able to think of plenty of instances whereby you’ve made these requests and the response has been frustrating. Here are some ways to avoid frustrating your customers in those situations:

  • Transferring CallsAn impression of poor service and lack of interest is the outcome when calls are transferred improperly. A call should only be transferred when the person transferring it cannot help the caller, and is reasonably sure the person who it is transferred to can help. Before transferring the call, prepare the person to whom it is being transferred to by explaining the problem and the name of the customer.
  • Putting callers on holdIf you have to put a caller on hold, ask their permission, explain why, and give them an estimate of how long, and if it’s going to be too long, give them the option of having you call back.
    It’s also helpful to provide progress reports, where you inform the person what progress is being made as they wait, for example: : “Mr. Johnson, I’m still checking the code for that. Do you mind waiting a little longer, or should I call you back?”
    Finally, make a proper return to the call by thanking them for waiting and then providing them with the information.
  • Taking a Message
    A great deal of business can be missed by incomplete or forgotten messages, so while it may seem simple, try to be thoroughTo do so:
    -Keep a notepad handy to takes notes during the call.-Get the customer’s first and last name with correct spelling.
    -Get the phone number and extension
    -Record the promised action for the message, and write down who took the message, as well as the date.

So there you have it, some techniques to help you provide an effective, positive customer service experience. These techniques are rather specific and at the end of the day, the moral of these techniques is to treat each customer as a unique individual, with a real problem that you need to listen to, and help them solve. Remember that each customer is really a part of your business or organization, as they consume and support the product or service that your company provides.