Saturday, December 01, 2007

Great Customer Phone Skills Hasn't Changed in 40 Years

I was just having lunch with my best childhood friend, Eileen. I was telling her that I am working on a booklet on How to Greet Your Customer. She mentioned that when she was 16 she worked for her father who was a CPA. She told me how when she started her job she was given rigorous training in customer service and phone skills. Apparently at the time, Michigan Bell, trained people on the appropriate way to use their switchboards and talk to customers.

Here are some of the things she learned:
1. Always say the name of the business
2. Never leave someone on hold for more than 30 seconds
3. When you put someone on hold, always explain what you are doing. ("I am going to put you on hold for a few seconds so that I can find the document you requested.")
4. Never transfer someone without explaining to the caller who you are transferring them to.
5. Never transfer someone without letting the person who you are transferring to, know who the caller is and what they want or need (if you know this)
6. As the switchboard operator, you are the face of the company. Often you are the first impression a client has about the business. It is your responsibility to make that a positive impression.
7. Always smile when on the phone. (Her father also suggested she place a mirror in front of her to remind her to smile.) A smile warms up your voice and makes you sound far more pleasant.

I was delighted to see that great customer service is timeless. The only thing I would add to this list, is:

8.Say your name after saying the business name.
"Good morning, Otto, Keller and Skye, this is Laurie Brown speaking." Saying your name allows the client to feel like you are willing to take personal responsibility for the call.

As you look at the above list, ask yourself "Am I doing all of these items on a regular basis?" If so, great! Your business will prosper from these great customer phone skills. If you are not currently doing all 8 items, start today. Your customers will be delighted.

1 comment:

Gravity Gardener said...

If you are considering a position in user support, you will need to have the following skills:
1. A Great Listener - Customers want you to completely understand their issue with the hope you will be able to assist them in resolving their problems quickly and efficiently. You will gain their respect if you let them completely explain their issue and respond in a positive manner. Take time to listen to their situation before jumping in with your resolution. Ask questions when you feel you have heard the issue and repeat some of their problems to let them know you were listening.

2. Professionalism - Having the ability to speak well and clearly over the phone or in person will be crucial in your interaction with the customer. A customer representative that acts in an un-professional manner will quickly become unwanted and only frustrate them further. You need to be a patient, professional and calming influence when interacting with customers at all times.

3. The Desire to Solve their Problem – User support requires you to have the fundamental sincerity to help others. Once you understand their issues, your desire to resolve them quickly and efficiently will make you the go to guy or gal for future needs. Your credibility and reputation will get you the visibility you need to move on in other areas.

Gravity Gardener