John Tschohl: Hi, I’m John Tschohl, president of Service Quality Institute. Providing high quality service to the customer is a very important issue these days. Serving your customers face to face is one component of good customer service. But in this high tech world, you’ll often deal with customers by electronic mail, fax, or over the phone.
This video is about effective telephone techniques. You’ll see ways to assure that the service you give over the phone is as warm, personal, and effective as the service you give face to face.
In addition, you will see how to use the telephone to enhance the service you normally provide.
First, let’s review the Five Principles of Service First. These principles are the foundation for every action you take to give good service to customers—whether in person or over the telephone.
Graphic: Feel Good About Yourself
Practice Habits of Courtesy
Use Positive Communication
Listen and Question
Narrator: The first Principle of Service First is too feel good about yourself and the work you do. Practice habits of courtesy—every day with everyone you deal with. Use positive communication to create a good impression. Listen and ask questions to make sure you understand your customer’s needs. And finally, perform professionally in every aspect of your job.
How can you translate the principles of Service First to the telephone? It may seem difficult since your positive communication techniques are limited to what is spoken and what is heard.
Whether you job is to be on the phone all day or only now and then, it’s easy to communicate quality if you remember these four key tactics.
Try to speak clearly, and slow down enough to pace your words evenly.
Graphic: LISTEN CAREFULLY
Listen carefully so your responses are appropriate.
Finally, smile! It gives you an upbeat tone and changes the way you sound to the caller.
Anyone who does telephone work can tell you that the impersonality of phone calls can sometimes be irritating to the customer. They may feel like they’re lost in the shuffle of being on hold, transferred, misunderstood, or caught in electronic reception or voice mail. But you can make a difference by practicing good telephone techniques.
Employee (female): Billing, Joyce Green speaking. How may I help you?
Customer (female): I’ve been on hold here for five minutes and I’ve got a problem with my bill.
Employee: I’m sorry, I do apologize. For some reason, the lines have been jammed this morning. May I have your name and address please?
Narrator: Customers like to deal with other people, not nameless faces or voices, and callers hate to be kept on hold. This employee’s friendly voice and quick apology probably went a long way toward soothing the customer’s upset feelings.
Bad phone service can do as much damage to your organization as bad service in person. Let’s watch.
Gary: ACME Moving and Storage.
Cynthia: Hi, this is Cynthia Shelby calling. I was told your company was handling our move from this end. It’s 8:30 and I was expecting the van at 8:00 a.m. That’s when my salesperson told me I could expect the truck today.
Gary: Well, he shouldn’t have told you 8:00 a.m. without checking with us first. We dispatch the trucks, ma’am, not the salesperson.
Cynthia: Well, is there a problem? Our furniture has been in storage for two weeks. When can I expect the truck? I have an appointment this afternoon.
Gary: Look, I’m sure the truck will be there shortly. I’ll check with dispatch, okay? I’ll give you a call back.
Gary: ACME Moving and Storage.
Cynthia: this is Cynthia Shelby calling back again. It’s 10:30 and I’ve been waiting since 8:00 a.m. and I still haven’t seen or heard from anyone. I talked with you this morning and you promised me you would check on the truck. Where are they?
Gary: Oh, yeah, I remember talking to you. Let me check with the dispatcher.
Cynthia: What’s the matter with you people? I’ve been waiting all morning, and now I’ll have to cancel my appointment, that is if there is going to be a truck today.
Gary: Look, ma’am, I’ll check with the dispatcher and I’ll get right back to you. They’re probably on their way.
Cynthia: Yeah, right. Remind me to refer you to my friends.
Narrator: No company needs the negative word-of-mouth advertising she’ll provide. So how can this type of confrontation be avoided in the future?
Graphic: Telephone Techniques
Here are some telephone techniques that are simple and proven. They don’t require much except that you make the effort.
Graphic: 1. Answer calls promptly. Answer calls right away. Experts advise that all calls should be answered by the second or third ring.
Graphic: 2. Identify yourself and organization.
Clearly identify yourself and your organization in your greeting. Your organization may have a policy about how phones are to be answered, but if it doesn’t, make sure that every caller knows with whom they’re dealing.
Graphic: 3. Ask permission to hold. Ask permission before putting someone on hold, and wait for their reply. For example, “May I put you on hold?” or “Can you hold, please?” It’s important that people feel like they aren’t a part of the machinery.
Graphic: 4. Transfer carefully.
Make sure your transfers are made carefully so that the caller isn’t disconnected or transferred to the wrong party.
Graphic: 5. Take messages accurately and deliver them promptly. Take messages accurately and deliver them promptly. Some calls may require quick action. You can help your co-workers provide good customer service by giving them accurate, complete information. Then make sure they get these messages in time to satisfy their customers.
Graphic: 6. Let caller hang up first. Let the caller hang up first. This assures that if the caller has more information for you, you will not have cut him or her off.
Graphic: 7. Return calls promptly It probably goes without saying that you should return phone calls promptly. Assume that your customers are waiting for you to call them back. The longer they have to wait, the more of their negative feelings you’ll have to endure and overcome.
These simple techniques, along with an attitude of friendly, professional customer service, insure that your telephone communications are the most effective.
John Tschohl: These techniques will make your telephone interactions with customers much more effective. But did you know you can use the phone to add value to your customer service?
The telephone can be a powerful sales tool, whether you’re answering the phone or making the call. Let’s watch.
Staff Member: Information Desk, Al Rice speaking. May I help you?
Student: I sure hope so. I’ve been on hold for five minutes.
Staff Member: I’m really sorry we kept you waiting. May I ask your name?
Student: My name is Jill Parker. One of my teachers wants us to attend a lecture on community development groups and I need to know where and when it’s scheduled.
Staff Member: Community development groups…I’m really not familiar with that one Jill, but we can check the events calendar on the Web site.
Student: Great idea, but I don’t have a computer at home.
Staff Member: No problem, if you don’t mind holding, I’ll check for you.
Student: Thanks, Al.
Staff Member: Ok. Just hang on one second.
Narrator: Now watch how the phone can be used to initiate a good customer service interaction.
Customer (female): Hello.
Sales rep (female): Hello. Is this Mrs. Tyler?
Customer: Yes it is.
Sales rep: Hi, Mrs. Tyler. This is Bev Ryan down at Hamilton Clermont downtown. How are you today?
Customer: Fine, Bev. What’s on your mind?
Sales rep: Well, when you were in here the other day, you mentioned you might want to take a look at the new fall line of cotton sweaters.
Customer: That’s right.
Sales rep: Well, I’m calling to let you know that our shipment arrived this afternoon. And I have to tell you, Mrs. Tyler, these sweaters are beautiful!
Customer: That’s great. I was hoping you’d call this week. My husband and I are planning a trip to Vancouver for a couple of weeks, and you know how the weather gets out there this time of year.
Sales rep: I imagine the designer who created cotton sweaters was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.
Customer: Are you going to be in tomorrow?
Sales rep: I’ll be in at ten o’clock sharp.
Customer: Good, I’m having lunch downtown tomorrow, I should be…
Narrator: Did you notice how the sales representative used excellent telephone techniques? Her voice was warm and friendly. She listened carefully so that she could respond appropriately to the customer. Even though they weren’t face to face, the customer felt a personal touch.
As you know, customers sometimes go beyond irritated to become irate. It’s important to remember to keep your cool and try to provide excellent service—regardless of how they’re treating you. If your job involves lots of phone work, remember no to let one angry customer interaction change the way you deal with the rest of your customers.
Answer the next call with a positive attitude by using a technique called “self talk.” This technique is a way to stay in control and remind yourself of how to respond professionally. Watch.
Enlisted Wife: Is it a condition of employment at MWR that secretaries like you do not know what’s going on? Or is this your own personal problem?
Secretary (female): I beg your pardon…
Wife: I beg your pardon? I should hope so. I recognize your voice. I’m certain I’ve gotten the same lack of respect from you in the past.
Secretary (thoughts): Don’t get into an argument with this one. Keep calm, and find out how you can help her.
Wife: Maybe I should have made a tape recording of this. I’ve said it so many times, and I am sick of talking to people who don’t want to help me.
Secretary (thoughts): This lady is just frustrated. No one has been able to help her. Give it your best shot. Be cool.
Wife: You just don’t care, that’s the problem.
Secretary: I really am sorry, ma’am, sincerely. If I’ve given you that impression, I really apologize. MWR is a large operation, a perhaps you’ve been directed to the wrong people. My job is helping people. Please, let me try.
Wife: Okay, I’m only going to tell this story one more time, so listen up.
John Tschohl: Here’s what separates merely adequate telephone service from exceptional, effective telephone service:
Simple techniques like answering with a smile, taking care when transferring, or letting the customer hang up first.
Being careful to take accurate messages, delivering them promptly, and returning calls as soon as possible.
Making an effort to listen carefully and respond appropriately.
And finally, becoming skillful at exceeding customer expectations through telephone contact and building your skills at talking yourself through tough situations.
If you make an effort to practice effective telephone techniques, giving excellent service to your customers is guaranteed. Remember, giving excellent customer service – whether in person or over the phone – is the single best way to make sure you and your organization stand out from the rest.
Graphic: Service Quality Institute is the global leader in helping organizations keep customers, build market share and improve the performance of the entire work force so they develop a culture of delivering superior customer service.
Graphic: Developing Your Most Powerful Asset:
Graphic: Change Behaviors and Attitudes Graphic: FEELINGS
Customer Care for Supermarkets Woman: Can you help me please. I’m just learning how to cook and I’m not sure how much of one ingredient I need.
Employee (man): I can help, what do you need?
Woman: Well, my recipe calls for two cups of mashed bananas. Do you have any idea how many bananas it takes to measure two cups?
Employee: You know, I’m not very good with cooking. But if you don’t mind waiting a minute I’ll find someone who’ll now.
Woman: I don’t mind at all, thank you.
Employee: I’ll be right back.
Graphic: Exceptional Service for Supermarkets Employee (female): Good afternoon, how may I help you?
Woman: You can get me a half-gallon of ice cream that isn’t full of ice crystals. I bought a half-gallon of ice cream a few days ago took it out of the freezer to make a sundae, and it was full of ice crystals. I returned it and got this one, as soon as I got home I opened the container and it had ice crystals in it too. What do I have to do to get ice cream that hasn’t been refrozen?
Employee: I’m sorry for all the inconvenience. I’m Kristen, the assistant head cashier. Let’s go over to the freezer case and open a replacement half-gallon so you can check it here before you take it home.
Here’s another chocolate. You open it and make sure that it’s okay.
Woman: This one looks fine.
Employee: Good. Here’s another one. It’s on us. It’s our way of apologizing for all the trouble this has caused you. We really want you to know you’re dealing with the best store in town.
Woman: Thanks, I appreciate it.
Graphic: Please call, write, fax or email Service Quality Institute if you are interested in finding out more about our products and services.