There is no one way to take a great customer phone call, and each person has a method that works well with their respective personality types. With that said, there are still plenty of standardized things you can do as a call center based customer service representative to improve customer interaction.
Here are four call center customer service tips that will help you achieve higher customer satisfaction and ensure an effective customer interaction.
Though the four points here are tailored for call center customer service representatives, there is no reason as to why you can’t apply these techniques to a face-to-face customer service interaction. As you’re reading these, think about your job and how you can apply them to your everyday customer service routine.
1. Restate the issue
When a customer calls in and they spend the first minute or two spewing out their issue or concern, they want to know that you are actively listening to them. Here a best practice technique that was created by a popular UK company called The Contact Number (TheContactNumber.co.uk): paraphrase what they’re telling you. Don’t match them word for word, but be comprehensive and acknowledge each of their concerns.
Another best practice: actively jot down what they’re saying into a wordpad program. This way you have an itemized list to read back to the customer. This will assure the customer that you understand everything that they want done.
Here are some examples of how you can restate an issue back to your customer without sounding like a well trained parrot:
“Just to make sure we are on the same page, here is what you want done today [read off paraphrased list of issues]
“So what you are calling in about is [read off paraphrased list of issues].
2. Refer to your customers by name
Believe it or not, the customers you speak with over the phone are people too. It is very easy to objectify them, as it is easy for them to objectify you. A simple technique that helps bring personality into the interaction and make it less of a “transaction” is to address customers by their names. This is universal with any interaction, whether it be over the phone or face to face, but lends itself especially well to a customer over the phone. Referring to your customer by their name helps bring a human aspect to the conversation, and it’s a great way to build rapport.
On the flip side, you don’t want to overuse this handy dandy “name” technique. If you address them by their name too often, you sound like you are following a script, and that’s insincere. Its recommended to use names in the beginning, coming back from a hold, and at the end of the interaction. For especially long interactions, use names only once or twice more during the call. You also want to make sure you aren’t being disrespectful. You should gauge your customer appropriately. As a general rule, address elderly customers by their surnames until you have permission to call them by their first names. For younger customers you are usually in the clear with first names. Younger people haven’t been too exposed to being called Mr. or Misses just yet, and you don’t want the conversation to feel awkward for them. If you are having a hard time judging which category they fall under, its best to start with surnames and ask for permission to use first names.
Remember this: it’s not always wise to assume age! If you’re unsure, just call them by their surname and ask politely whether or not you are allowed to refer to them by their first name.
3. Build rapport with your customers
Some customer service representatives have a natural ability to start conversations about anything and everything with their customers. It contributes to a much more fun conversation and keeps things from becoming too “transactional.” Here’s an easy way to add rapport into a conversation. In the early part of the interaction, once your customer has given you the issue, simply ask “aside from this issue, how is you day going?”
Nothing could be simpler that, and it act as a decent gauge as to whether you have a customer that appreciates small talk, or is one that strictly needs to get business done without any fluff. If they take to the bait, there is nothing wrong with light banter about the events of the day or the weekend–just make sure you know how to control the call so they don’t ramble on. If they are short with their answer, you probably have a customer that really doesn’t want to spend more time than they need to on the phone. In either scenario, you have shown a human element towards your customer and that will resonate with both types of customers, improving the quality of the interaction.
4. Recap the solutions you offered
Many a customer service representative has the tendency to end a call without giving themselves proper credit. You probably did quite a bit of this–after all, you took care of whatever your customer called in about, what more is there to say? There could be a little. Why not remind the customer what exactly it is that you did? Such redundancies will serve two purposes:
On one hand, you are reminding your customer what you did you help them today, and that will stay fresh in their mind by the end of the call.
On the other hand, you are providing a summary of your actions as prove to the addressed all of your customer’s concerns.
Either way, you and your customer are both coming out on top. You are letting them know that you’ve helped them out, and your customers will remember that. If you haven’t solved their problems let, this will prompt them to offer such tidbits, thus allowing you to get to the root of the issue and actually help them out.