Quote of the Day:
Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.
How many times have you spoken with someone on the phone and thought how unprofessional he or she was? Make sure others are not saying the same about you. Here’s everything you need to know about handling calls in a professional manner.
“Cool”, “Hot”, “Groovy”, “Awesome”, “Fly”, “Slammin”, “Hip”, “Phat”, …and the list goes on and on. We hear slang words in music, movies, commercials and many other parts of our culture. But no matter how often we hear them. They are still inappropriate in business. They can create confusion and can make a very unprofessional first impression to our customers. Just how confusing are they?
- While on the phone with customers, limit yourself to business appropriate words and expressions that are universal in meaning.
- Slang expressions may have different meanings to different people. Avoid offending others by avoiding their use.
- Trendy expressions change meanings often. You may sound dated when using slang terms that aren’t “in” anymore.
- Use correct grammar. Always use “Jane and I” for your subject and “Jane and me” when it’s a direct object (i.e. “Jane and I went to the store” not “He talked to Jane and me”). Don’t leave the word “at” dangling at the end of a sentence. For example, “I do not know where it is at” is incorrect. Usually, you can just remove “at” from the sentence entirely. “I don’t know where it is” is the correct way.
We’ve all heard that customers hang on our every word. If that’s true, we better make sure the words they hear are good ones! Customers want to hear words that show you value their business and are happy to help them. What are the words customers want to hear?
- Customers judge your willingness to help them based on your tone of voice and word choice.
- Use positive words that show confidence and decisiveness such as “yes”, “absolutely”, and “thank you”.
- Practice active listening skills. Don’t argue or interrupt the customer. Even if the person is mistaken or you know what he or she is going to say next. Allow the person to get what’s off his or her chest. Listening well builds rapport and can help greatly in diffusing a heated caller.
- Establish rapport through empathy. Place yourself in the client’s shoes. Let the caller know that you hear his or her frustration and grievance. Doing this alone can help greatly in calming a person down. It’s called “verbal nodding” and it helps the caller feel understood.
- “Positive” words not only make your customers more comfortable but can also affect your own attitude.
Tone of Voice
When you rely on your voice to deliver a message, it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it. And when it comes to ‘how you say it,’ your tone of voice speaks volumes. Your inflection, pitch, volume, and pausing tell the customer whether you are confident or not. If a customer doesn’t think you are confident in an answer, they won’t be satisfied. What effect does that have?
- Speak with a strong confident voice to instill a sense of confidence in your customer
- If you don’t have the answer, ask the customer to hold and get clarification to avoid sounding unsure.
- What makes you sound unsure? Inflection. Volume. Pausing.
Pay attention to your voice. It’s through your tone that the caller hears your true intentions. Whether in phone or in person, this conveys more than the words that come out of your mouth. The key to talking on the phone in a professional manner is to smile inwardly!
- This point of smiling hit home with the senior management of a call center, and he placed little mirrors at each of the agents’ stations that said: “What you see is what they hear!”
Remember you’re interacting with a human. All of us have bad days. Maybe the person had a fight with his or her spouse, just got a traffic ticket or has had a run of bad luck. To one degree or another, we’ve all been there. Try to make their day better by staying calm and unruffled — it’ll make you feel good, too!