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.