Monthly Archives: September 2006

Quick Tip Rules for Professional Phone Duties

Through my experience working in Customer Service for a global company, plus working with SMEs (including my own) since 2000, and as a current customer service trainer, I have come to rely on a few “golden rules” of telephone management. I hope you find these useful for your business, job, internship, or when you are dealing with a CSR in your personal business, or even just ordering a pizza! Good phone skills are useful anytime.

1) Use polite words and intonation e.g. please, thank you. Yes it can get over-used here in Canada, but nevertheless, it helps set the tone of the conversation from confrontational to friendly. Politeness gets you further than shouting, regardless of what you have heard. Nobody likes a bully, and we are always going to assist a polite person first, rather than a raging bull!

2) Be sincere. Be believable and trustworthy. Faking it with just polite words but having a sour tone in your voice won’t fool anybody. They need to feel that you truly care, and are trying to do a good job, help them out or deal with their problem. You can’t fake it, so be sincere. Control your emotions.

3) Never demand anything or order anyone to do something. Always ask. Do you like being pushed around or subjugated? So why do it to others? For example, instead of saying “I need to talk to Mr. Roberts now” you should say “Is Mr. Roberts available? I would really like to speak to him.”

4) Be professional and diplomatic. Be “P.C”. That stands for “politically correct” which basically means not using offensive or judgmental language. This rule may not be as obvious to those from a uni-lingual and/or uni-cultural country. In Canada, you never know what the person on the other end of the telephone line looks like, what religion they may have, what ethnic background they or their family or spouse is (since not everyone’s’ accent will tell you) etc. Don’t take a chance on offending someone and embarrassing you and your company. Pretend that every phone call is recorded. These days, most are!

5) Remember that with angry customers or staff, it really is nothing personal. How could it be? They don’t know you! You are a “filter” for your company. You should problem-solve with the person, not just “pass the buck”. We all hate it when we tell our story to a person and then they transfer us to a new person, then again and again. No wonder some people get angry! So stop the passing and deal with the problem at its core level. Take some conflict management training if possible, or buy a helpful book on such techniques, especially if you know that your job will routinely deal with complaints.

6) Always be aware that you are a reflection of your company. As a new employee you should read your company profile, mission statement, values, policies etc. so that you are always aligned with the desired corporate image. It is important to note that customer loyalty is based on personal treatment and relationship, not the price, product or history. One bad experience from a CSR (Customer Service Rep) having a bad day can kill a longtime faithfulness to your company.

Body Language Quick Hints

The way that we communicate non-verbally with our appearance, posture, gesture, gaze and expression can be such a powerful tool in the way that we feel and when communicating with others.

The manner in which you communicate your interpersonal skills are very important.  Effective communication is vital if you are going to succeed no matter what you are doing.

The way in which we communicate with people is broken down into component parts, and it is popularly believed that people to whom we are speaking understand what we say by interpreting these different elements in varying proportions.  The 7-38-55 ‘rule’ is popular in lore, but it’s based on a small and limited experiment done in the 1960s.  However, even if the numbers are not exact, think of these general principle of proportions:

VERBAL

· 7% of our message is interpreted from the words we use, including grammar.

VOCAL

· 38% is picked up from our voice – speed, tone, pitch, rhythm etc.

VISUAL

· 55% is what the other person sees – our body language, gestures, environment etc.

The “3 Vs” would then make up a fourth – VIBE – the overall feeling we send and receive.

Whole books are written on body language, but here are some quick fixes and recommendations that you should start to put into practice:

· Dress to win – Look at your appearance and ask yourself:

· Do I feel confident?

· Do I look confident?

· What could I do with my appearance to give me the edge?

· Handshakes – Never give a limp wrist handshake, make sure it is firm but not too hard

· Smile a lot more than you have been doing – even if you are a comedian! Smiles generate trust, openness and more smiles!

· Walk tall with your head and shoulders back. Walk at a quick, controlled pace breathing calmly.

· When you talk to people look them straight in the eye.

· Keep on moving – Motion creates positive emotion!

· If you are ever feeling down, just have a look at your body language and change it immediately. You WILL start to feel better and more confident immediately. Take a brisk walk if need be.

· First impressions count – so when you are going to meet people for the first time, think of what first impression you want to give them. A smiling face? A good remark? Firm handshake? Etc. Life is filled with first impressions…over and over and over again!

· Take more notice of other peoples’ body language. You can normally tell what others are feeling by the way that they are moving and using their body too. You can use this to your advantage when you are more aware of it. This is useful in meetings, negotiations, presentations, sales pitches, and yes, even on dates!

Accents & Emails

Did you know that a person’s email style is often as culturally-specific as their accent?

Some times we come to think of English as a standardized tool that everyone is using for business, travel, pleasure etc. and we forget that it is a living, evolving stylized language. We obviously can see this (rather “hear this”) in the different regional accents all over the world.

There really is no such thing as “American” English. Does that mean the New York accent or the Boston one? The Californian or Texan? Did you realize that even in Canada, a country with a relatively small population (almost 35 million) that we have regional accents? Some newcomers take a while to pick up on this. For example there’s the broken, choppy French-Canadian accent, the tight and enunciated Toronto-business accent, the typical relaxed and casual small-town accent, the native Canadian or Inuit accent, the East coast accents…etc.

When we write emails our choice of vocabulary comes out as well as our attitude. With friends and family this is fine but in business there needs to be a professional tone and word choice – without going over the top with vocabulary from the stock exchange every time!  🙂

This brings me to my final note. Please be aware that the Americans and Canadians typically write short, direct emails in business, and expect the same from you. Do not be offended! It is actually viewed as being polite not to waste other people’s precious time. But remember that the British typically are still writing as they speak – longer drawn out “indirect” speech, so their emails are longer. Often they too think that the North Americans are being rude or lazy, but it’s just a difference of culture!

Until next time, consider your recipient before pressing the “send” button!

The 3-V Effect

Hello everyone!

Whenever you are considering how you communicate with people, please always ensure that
you are working the “3-V effect.”

That is, communication consists of Verbal, Vocal and Visual elements.
Verbal is your word choice. What impression or message do you want to
send? Choose your words carefully, and ones that your “audience” can
relate to, and understand.

Vocally send a message that matches your content. Loud or soft voice?
Are you including proper word stress? Sentence stress? Intonation?

Visually what message are you giving when your shoes are polished,
your teeth clean, your PowerPoint presentation short and sweet? Let’s
not forget body language like eye contact and smiling at the
appropriate times, just to name a few things.

So for now, just consider the 3-V effect when you are out there
communicating to people. I’m sure it will enhance your personal and
professional presentations!