Using telephone techniques effectively

In a call centre, your customer contact is via your voice, whether you are a computer advisor or telemarketer. On the phone, your tone of voice and vocabulary will have an even greater impact than face-to-face; they will determine the success of your exchange. Here are some ground rules to help you better communicate by phone.

Unlike what most people think, talking on the phone is not as easy as it looks. In a face-to-face conversation, words account for 7% of the message, tone of voice 34% and body language 59%. In a telephone conversation, your movements and face cannot be seen. It is therefore sometimes difficult to imagine the reactions of the person one is talking to, his or her look or hesitations. On the phone, tone of voice is hence of the utmost importance. 

CHEESE!

When you take a call, start with a warm hello. This may seem obvious, but not everyone does it. Practise talking while smiling. Even if the caller does not see you, he or she can “hear” the smile energizing your pitch over the phone lines. Don’t overdo it, however—the key is to find the right balance between enthusiasm and being natural.

As soon as you answer, identify yourself with your name and title; customers like to know who they are dealing with. If you make outbound calls, make sure you are not disturbing the caller and let him or her know how long the call should take. Ask the person his or her name to establish a connection and individualize the conversation. It is never pleasant for a customer to have to wait until the order is being closed to give his or her name. . . In all cases, always call the person by his or her last name, using the appropriate courtesy title.

SIMPLE WORDS AND ACTIVE LISTENING

As you develop your pitch, be both concise and specific. Before even trying to explain or sell something, you must define the customer’s needs. Use complete sentences, and adopt a tone that is both courteous and directive. Always keep your voice lively and use simple words. 

When the caller talks, listen to him or her attentively and do not hesitate to take notes to organize your responses. Do not interrupt. Just indicate your presence by punctuating the conversation with short comments such as “I understand,” and “Really?”. The person should never feel alone on the line. If the person gets upset, stay calm. As necessary, point out that he or she is needlessly raising his or her voice.

YOUR CORPORATE IMAGE

There are only two valid reasons for making a customer wait—transferring a call or searching for information. In all cases, specify how long he or she will be put on hold, keeping in mind that a minute always seems longer on the telephone. Book a time and call back later if the waiting time is too long. When transferring a call, it is up to you to explain the person’s situation to your co-worker. There is nothing more annoying than having to repeat your story several times! If you transfer a customer, specify that you have familiarized yourself with his or her file.

Finally, never forget that you embody your corporate image via your voice.

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