Customer Care: Support customers successfully on the phone
According to psychologist Paul Watzlawick's communication model, gestures, facial expressions, and body posture are key factors in determining how we interact with each other and whether we regard our conversation partner as friendly. In telephone customer service, these core components of successful communication cannot be provided. However, there are helpful guidelines to establish a personal and solution-oriented conversation culture on the phone.
In order to optimize your communication in the long term, you can learn about what is important in telephone conversations with customers and how to react in case of misunderstandings.
1. Always be honest!
Honesty is the foundation of successful communication and the key to customer service as your customers deserve complete and transparent information. Therefore, do not promise quick or easy solutions unless it is actually possible and avoid sugarcoating. If you cannot answer a question or help with a problem, communicate openly rather than suggesting a quick solution or giving incomplete responses. In such situations always make an immediate effort to find the right contact person for your customers.
2. Be kind and committed!
In customer service you interact with people and every person is unique. For this reason, consciously address the person you are talking to by their name and make sure that your voice sounds calm, open, and friendly. Engage with each concern in depth - the cases may be similar, but each conversation is different. Put yourself in your client's shoes and show understanding for their personal questions and problems. Your customers should feel well looked after and well advised at any time.
3. Listen attentively
Even without visible gestures and facial expressions you can show your clients that you are listening carefully, that you are following what they say and that you are actively participating. Means to signal attention include briefly agreeing with what they say or asking a few questions. However, do not interrupt your customer or jump to conclusions. Let them finish and fully explain the reason for their call before making a suggestion. To check that you have understood your client’s concerns, summarize the main points at the end of the conversation and ask whether you have presented the situation correctly and completely.
4. Speak clearly!
You are an expert in your field - your customers usually are not. Therefore, adapt your language and choice of words to the level of knowledge of the person you are talking to. Phrase explanations in a way that can easily be understood by non-specialists and avoid technical terms. You may have solved the problem in question many times before but for your customers the situation will mostly be completely new and unfamiliar. Ensure that you do not patronize or lecture your clients but meet them at eye level!
5. Directly address misunderstandings!
If a misunderstanding arises during a conversation or a customer is not satisfied with your service, do not cover up the situation. Instead, address the problem in an open and friendly manner and actively seek a solution. Identify what caused the misunderstanding and make sure that you are now aware of the specific problem. To prevent disagreements, you should check at the end of each conversation whether all your clients' concerns have been resolved to their full satisfaction or whether you can do anything else for them.
Follow these 5 simple tips and your customers will definitely feel comfortable, taken seriously and well advised during a phone call with you - even without a glass of water or a cup of coffee. If you would like to learn more about dealing with dissatisfied customers read our article "Crisis management: 7 ways to deal with dissatisfied customers".