Customer service

Customer Service Best Practices: Must Do’s on a Phone Call

Customer service

3 Must-Dos on Every Customer Service Call

From the moment customer service representatives answer a call, it’s important to do everything you can to ensure a positive customer experience. That of course means having a quality call script and providing proper training

and tools so representatives have the knowledge and capabilities they need to remedy customer issues. But there are other, more nuanced things customer service agents must do to ensure they are communicating effectively and making customers feel truly heard. Here are the top three must-dos for every customer service call.

#1 Use the caller’s name

This is key to building relationships. Calling someone by their name creates an immediate connection and shows that you are listening, you have their information and you care about them  enough to remember their name. It’s about recognizing their humanity and individuality. Studies have even shown that hearing your own name activates different parts of your brain compared to when you hear other people’s names. So, by acknowledging someone with their name, you make a real, even chemical connection that can help the rest of the call be more positive.

  Greet the customer, get their name, and use it!Customer Service Name Example

To fully understand the benefit of using a caller’s name, let’s also consider the alternatives. If you repeatedly use terms like “sir” or “ma’am,” it can come off as overly formal or make the customer feel unimportant, like they are just another caller. On the other hand, terms of endearment like “buddy,” “honey” or “sweetheart” should also be avoided. Customer service experts agree that these terms can seem condescending, infantilizing or potentially disrespectful. The caller and service agent are not friends and do not have a previous relationship, so these terms often feel forced and inauthentic. This is why customer service best practices say the best route is to keep it simple and use the customer’s name.


#2 Use a positive tone

What you say on a customer service call is important. But how you say it may be even more critical for ensuring a positive customer interaction. An often-cited study suggests that human interpersonal communication follows the 7-38-55 rule. That means that 7% of what is being communicated is your actual words, 38% is your tone, and 55% is other nonverbal cues like body language. On a phone call, where body language isn’t a factor, tone means everything and can immediately set the stage for either a successful or problematic call. Using a positive tone helps ensure the latter doesn’t happen.

  You have ONLY ONE opportunity to make a first impression.

  Evoke a smile!  

Customer Service Tone Example

However, it’s important to note that positive doesn’t necessarily mean happy. If a customer is calling with a problem, you don’t want to sound overly cheery about it as this could be off-putting or even insulting. Customer service agents should still show empathy and concern for the caller’s issue. But you can also be positive or even optimistic about working to remedy the situation. Your tone can tell the caller you are there to offer friendly assistance and help them resolve their issue in a way that is positive and productive for everyone involved.

#3 Listen

It’s important for customer service agents to know when to stop talking and start listening. Active listening is one of the most important and underutilized skills in business. This is unfortunate because most of us are poor listeners. Experts say most people retain only 25% of the information they hear once. If you are distracted looking up customer records or navigating other data systems, that retention may be even less. But listening is more about the customer than it is about the service agent collecting information.

  Acknowledge you heard them and you will take care of them. 

Customer Service Listen Example

Customers want to feel like they have been heard and someone has acknowledged their difficulties. (Sometimes just feeling like someone understands their problem is more important to customers than actually solving the problem itself.) Customer service agents should clarify that you understand their needs and reiterate pain-points they have addressed. Also, don’t assume you already know what the customer’s issue is. In fact, by listening attentively and paying attention to the details of what they’re saying, you may realize the real issue is something different altogether. Prioritize real, active listening and you will be able to more easily identify and resolve customer issues in a positive way.

Creating better customer service experiences

Improving customer service performance is a continual pursuit that never really ends. But it is also of vital importance. Research shows that 90% of people consider customer service when deciding whether to do business with a company, and 58% will switch companies because of poor customer service. So, if you want your company to succeed, you need to make sure you are doing the little things to promote positive customer experiences. By investing in customer service training and making sure employees are following best practices, customer service managers can foster positive customer interactions that build loyalty and improve customer retention.

Looking for more ways to improve customer service performance?

Sign up for a 3 week trial with Listenforce today to see how our customer service training programs can lead to better customer satisfaction for your business. 


The Power of Conversation Analytics blog image

The Power of Conversation Analytics®: 7 Important Data Indicators for Customer Service Professionals

Providing excellent customer service is a must for any business, especially those looking to grow. Maintaining excellent relations with customers is, in many ways, a science – one that benefits from data and continuous learning. This is where conversational intelligence comes into play.

Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, Conversation Analytics decodes what happens during every phone call. With natural speech recognition technology, users of this software can go beyond who is calling and where they’re calling from to identify what callers want and how to best serve them. Using this technology, businesses can improve various aspects of their operations, including sales and customer service performance.

Customer service professionals in particular can benefit from call recording and analytics technology by seeing exactly where they are exceeding and where they may be falling short. Here are seven data points that customer service professionals who use Conversation Analytics technology can regularly monitor to improve performance and keep customers happy. 

1. Agent Politeness

Unsurprisingly, politeness is a critical aspect of customer service. Maintaining a positive, cordial relationship with each customer is a must for any successful customer service representative, regardless of the industry or type of business.

Call recording and analytics software can assess the degree to which a customer service representative is polite with a customer by ranking a confidence level of Agent Politeness on a scale from 0-100. Because agent politeness is critical, the higher the score, the better. The software measures this by looking for changes in voice, rate of speech, presence or lack of voice tremors, lack of agitation, and specific phrases or words. All of these elements are ‘cues’ that Conversation Analytics uses to determine if an agent was polite with a customer on the phone.

There are more than 700 phrases Listenforce’s Conversation Analytics software listens for to determine Agent Politeness. These include:

  • “Beg your pardon” / “pardon me”
  • “Please” / “thank you”
  • “Appreciate” 
  • “I can help with” / “Glad/happy to help”
  • “Have a great day” / “have an awesome day” / “have a wonderful day”
  • “I’m sorry” / “I apologize”

2. Agitation Levels

Speech recognition technology, such as Conversation Analytics, listens for acoustic signals that measure emotion based on characteristics of speech, including tempo, pitch, and volume. Changes in these attributes can indicate a decrease in caller satisfaction.

When a customer raises their voice or begins to yell, such software picks up on this and flags it in the call recording, allowing customer service representatives to identify where, when, and – most importantly – why a customer became agitated. This data can then be used by reps and teams to understand phrases and topics that are more likely to upset customers, and how to position difficult conversations in a way that doesn’t agitate callers.

3. Complaints vs. Compliments

How often is a customer saying something positive about your business, product, or service, and how does that compare against how frequently they’re making a complaint? AI-driven Conversation Analytics software automatically picks up on words and phrases that are representative of either a compliment or a complaint, allowing your reps to see if customers on calls are more complimentary or dissatisfied with something about the service they are receiving. This data can be analyzed over time to detect trends in the overall opinion of your products or services.

4. Agent Empathy

When people contact customer service teams, it’s almost always because they’ve experienced an issue or frustration. As a customer service representative, it’s critical to demonstrate empathy in order to ensure that customers feel heard. Even small phrases such as “sorry to hear that” and “must be difficult” can make a huge difference in how the customer feels during their time interacting with a representative of your business.

Conversation Analytics software picks up on phrases demonstrating agent empathy and then provides a score on how empathetic the agent was in their interactions. Agents can consistently monitor their empathy score to see how it trends over time, ensuring that they consistently convey understanding in order to improve and maintain strong relationships with customers.

5. Ownership Language

Customers facing issues with a product or service want to know that someone is taking accountability for solving their problem. Even if you, as a customer service rep, weren’t responsible for their problem, they need to know you are taking ownership of finding the solution.

Conversation Analytics uses speech recognition technology to monitor phrases indicating that agents are taking ownership for caller requests. Phrases such as “I can help you with that” and “What I can do is…” are indicative that an agent is taking ownership. Using this feature, customer service representatives can see how their usage of ownership language trends over time.

6. Percent of Silence (Dead Air)

Percent of silence is calculated by taking the absence of speech on a call measured against the total duration of the call. While it’s normal for people – both customer service representatives and customers alike – to take some time to think on calls, silence generally should not take up more than 20% of the call. Think about it this way: if you’re on a 5 minute call and 20% of that call is spent in silence, that’s a whole minute of valuable conversation lost.

Why does dead air occur on phone calls? One common reason is that the customer may have posed an issue or question that the agent on the call has never dealt with before. By reviewing these types of questions/concerns and identifying common themes among them, customer service teams can prepare each agent for future instances, ensuring that agents don’t find themselves stumped while on the phone with a customer. 

7. Longest Monologue

Are you giving your customers enough opportunities to speak? While it’s important to ensure you answer all of their questions, talking for too long at once, without stopping to ask if your customers have questions, can be cause for concern. Data from sales calls demonstrates that top-performing sales reps, on average, speak 43% of the time on phone calls, which allows prospective customers to speak 57% of the time on average. While customer service isn’t selling a product in the same way that sales is, you’re still representing your company and helping customers find a solution – thus making this data applicable to customer service calls as well.

As you can see, there are a number of ways that AI-driven Conversation Analytics can bolster your customer service performance by providing valuable intelligence and data at scale. If you are interested in seeing these indicators in action, reach out today to schedule a demo or sign up for a free 21-day trial of Conversation Analytics.