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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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