Call center employees have a tough job. They have to make hundreds of calls each week and communicate with countless different personality types. To be an effective call center employee, you need more than the good people skills it takes to navigate all those personalities. You also need a good grasp of phone etiquette. Phone etiquette helps you establish a rapport with your customer and makes you sound professional and proficient. It also helps you navigate through tough situations, such as unhappy customers.
Always use a polite and friendly greeting when you begin a call rather than skipping right to your script or the customer's problem. Introduce yourself and let the caller know who you are and what company you represent. Try to set the tone for the call in these first few sentences. Use the person's full name or ask how they'd like to be addressed for the rest of the call rather than guessing or relying on an impersonal sir or ma'am.
Active listening is a key element of phone etiquette. Call Center Helper recommends using affirmative phrases such as "yes," "mmhmm," "aha" and "OK" to let the person on the other end know you're actively listening. You must always let the other person speak without interrupting them, and pay close attention to what they're saying. Interrupting a caller can be rude and lead to frustration.
Rapport is creating a positive relationship with your customer. It's the difference between sounding like a robot reading a script and a real person. Quick, easy ways to build rapport include asking warm questions, such as "how are you?" and making small talk from time to time. A friendly tone of voice, or "smiling voice," also helps build rapport.
Long periods of dead, or quiet, time make customers uneasy and can leave them wondering if you're still there. If you have to take time to look up an account or take information, break up long silences with small bits of information or small talk. Let the customer know what's happening to help avoid frustration and awkward silences.
Holds and Transfers
When you need to place someone on hold or transfer them, you must always tell them clearly and politely what you plan to do. Give them clear instructions on how to get back in touch with you should the call get interrupted. If possible, let the person know how long they'll be on hold. In cases of transfers, let them know the reason they're being transferred and the name or title of the person they'll be speaking with.
Deal with client complaints in a "kill them with kindness" manner. It's difficult for a person to continue in his rude behavior when the call center staffer is kindly and politely making an effort to solve his problem. Resist losing your temper and resorting to snappy comebacks, arguing or insulting a caller no matter how rude. Forward especially difficult calls to a manger to prevent the situation from escalating out of control.
Respect a caller's wishes, if possible, when it comes to ending or repeating the call. If you have a required script that forces you to continue the dialogue when a caller doesn't want to talk to you, make the subsequent requests as polite and empathetic as possible. If a caller doesn't wish to be called back in the future and it's within your power to make this happen, do so.
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