Despite all the communication options, customers still want to talk to you. Are you as prepared as they expect?
The phone isn’t as powerful as it once was in customer support. But 65% of customers still prefer an actual call and conversation with a person when they have a specific question or issue, according to a new survey from West Interactive Services.
Yet, many companies beef up customer support in the areas of self-service and social media. Those are important investments, researchers say, but shouldn’t be make at the cost of solid, real-time, personal phone help.
The most complicated issues will likely continue to come via telephone. So it’s important that the professionals who take those calls communicate expertly and clearly.
Be the clear expert
Here are seven tips for front-line service pros to increase their phone expertise and clarity:
- Get the tone right. The right tone projects a positive, interested and attentive attitude. Control your rate of speech to match customers’ natural rate. Maintain a pitch that’s mid-range — not too high or low — and vary your inflection. It does take practice, so record yourself and listen until you hit it.
- Be clear. Enunciate your words. For instance, make sure you maintain the “ing” at the end of words instead of just “in.”
- Keep it simple. Use simple words and phrases that make sense to your customers. Avoid jargon and acronyms.
- Listen. You will only communicate the right information at the right time if you fully understand what customers want. Verify that they’re done explaining or asking questions, then clarify any information you need to before you offer solutions.
- Cite the specific purpose. Once you’ve heard what customers want, briefly restate it, and then add what you plan to do. Then ask if you have it right. You want to clarify the expectation before moving forward.
- Be descriptive. When you move onto solving problems or answering questions, help them understand quickly by creating images in their minds with descriptive language. Use words and phrases that identify color, shape and size. Make comparisons to objects or situations that are familiar and similar to your point.
- Respect time and relationships. You might not be able to take care of everything customers ask for on the phone. If you have to involve others in your company, stay involved. Introduce customers and their issues to a colleague before getting off the line. If your answer will take more than a minute, explain what you’re doing and about how long it will take to retrieve the information. Or, offer to call customers back if it involves more people and time.