Imagine how much more effective your organization would be if you were able to keep every customer. How much more profit would you obtain if you satisfied almost all of your customers? The truth is that providing quality customer care and experience doesn't just take place in person. A lot of it happens over the phone. Being able to provide excellent customer call experiences is one sure way to set you apart from the competition.
So, how is it done?
What are the key ingredients to a successful customer call experience?
The key is to make your customer service calls effective. If you figure out how to address customer concerns and speak to their needs as they arise, you will increase customer retention and long-term brand loyalty because "70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated."
There are in fact several tips you can use to make that happen. But before we explore those tips, let’s first look at what both a good call and a bad call look like.
What Does a Good Call Sound Like?
A good call is one of clear communication on both ends. The customer is able to express his or her concerns. You or your agents treat the customer in such a way that makes the person feel that the company cares about their problem. Service is reasonably quick and concludes with some type of resolve. In other words, the customer concludes the call with a sense of progress and satisfaction about having had their concerns addressed.
What Does a Bad Call Sound Like?
A bad call is one in which service reps tosses the customer around from one call agent to another and/or has to wait for extensive periods of time on the phone. Unclear communication is also a part of bad calls. And ultimately, the customer feels either unheard and/or as though the company has not addressed the concerns. The customer feels that the call was a waste of time and thus hangs up even more frustrated than prior to engaging the call.
But customer service calls do not have to be bad. In fact, there are 7 keys to stellar customer service calls that you and/or your customer service agents can use to make your calls a success. Let’s look at each of the 7 tips together.
7 Things You Can Do to Ensure Stellar Customer Service Calls
1. Be Sincere
This tip is first on the list because it is probably the most important concept to implement. People can sense if you are just trying to deal with them and then move on or if you genuinely care about what they feel. People can feel the sincerity, even over the phone. Let your words be genuine and the customer will sense that from the start of the conversation. Sincerity will benefit you in many ways. In fact, one study of surgeons who showed a genuine interest in their patients shows that sincerity reduced their risks of being sued to almost 0%. Translate those results to your customer service call and you end up with sincerity offsetting would someone may interpret as being an otherwise bad experience.
2. Speak in a Positive Tone
You always want to make your voice sound upbeat and enthusiastic. You don’t want to overdo this to the point of losing focus of the sincerity we just mentioned, but you do want to stay positive and cheerful. One way to make this happen is to smile throughout the conversation. People can actually hear a smile from the other end of the phone. It comes out in your tone. Speak in a way that communicates positivity and it will go a long way with the customer. In fact, CBS News reports that positive words communicate that something can be done to fix a problem a customer may have.
3. Clarify Customer Concerns
You can frustrate the customer more by “fixing” a problem (s)he has not communicated. Clarify the problem by rephrasing and repeating to the customer what (s)he has expressed as being the main concern. According to Wright.edu, clarification is an essential ingredient in effective listening. The reason for this is twofold. First of all, you will make sure that you understand clearly and will be addressing the actual problem. And second, you will make the customer feel heard. Even if you can’t fix the problem by the end of the conversation if the customer feels that the company has heard his or her concerns, (s)he is much more likely to feel satisfied with the eventual outcome of the situation.
4. Speak Clearly
It is important to make sure the customer understands what you are saying. Avoid mumbling or multi-tasking as it can distract you from focusing on the conversation and from clearly enunciating your words. If the customer can’t understand you, (s)he will feel like (s)he is not being understood. Speak clearly and communicate in such a way that the customer consistently understands what you are saying. In fact, this article suggests that it is extremely important to speak clearly when addressing people's concerns over the phone. Doing so will greatly increase your chances of having a positive outcome of the call.
5. Communicate Competence
You don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. But you also want to avoid making the customer feel like (s)he is talking to someone who cannot help the situation. According to Coach at Heart, "competence builds confidence." And confidence communicates to customers that even if you do not know how to fix the problem, you will strive to find a solution and make it work. Therefore, when you communicate competence, you will put the customer at ease.
6. Use the Person’s Name
It is important to make the customer feel like a person, not a number. One great way to do this is to use the person’s name. Using the customer’s name communicates a sense of connectedness and provides a personal touch that results in rapport. In fact, The Washington Post reports that using "someone's name makes a positive and lasting impression" on the person. When you make the customer feel like you care about him or her personally, your chances of finalizing the call with some sense of satisfaction greatly increase.
7. Leave the Customer Satisfied
You won’t be able to “fix” every problem. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave the person with nothing. Always seek as much of a compromise as possible. Do what is within the confines of company policy to offer the customer some sense of satisfaction. The key is to make sure you do something, even if it’s not what the customer is specifically asking for. Try to get as close to their request as possible, but giving them something, even if it differs from their demands, is a better solution than just turning them away empty-handed. Seek to give them some sense of satisfaction.
You can certainly establish a culture of good customer service calls in your organization. The key is to be sincere. Address the matter as if you were on the other end of the line and needed the help yourself. Keep your tone positive, clarify the customer’s concerns, and enunciate yourself properly. Make sure to communicate your competence and ability to bring some form of resolve to the matter. Use the person’s name throughout the call and leave the customer with a sense of satisfaction – a sense that someone has addressed the problem. By implementing these 7 tips, you will ensure that stellar customer service calls are the norm for your organization.
Explore the key differences between customer experience and customer service.