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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Phone Skills: It’s Not What You Say But How You Say It!

Customer service was built on excellent communication skills. Expressing confidence over the phone and creating a positive experience for your customer is essential part of any business. As someone who has been in a customer service environment for many years…too many to mention…there are a few simple techniques that I use when training staff that are beneficial when dealing with the public over the phone.

Now I know that while most of us have web based businesses and we’re not brick and mortar establishments, we use written media to get our point across, but there will still be times when we need to discuss items or issues with a customer over the phone. Our voice skills are often more important that the words that are used in print or face to face.

Research has shown that while our vocal skills are important in a face to face conversation, they only make a small impact on the total transaction. However our voice skills in a phone conversation have an enormous impact…remember they can’t physically see you so the visual body language is taken out of the picture.

Failing to pronounce words correctly or slurring words into each other make it difficult for the customer to understand what is being said. How many times has it happened to you? What is your perception of the establishment? Will you spend your money there? Put yourself in the caller’s shoes and make sure you are articulating the words properly. Use what I call the PTP principal: Pace, Tone and Projection:

Pace: The speed of what is being said can degrade the quality of a voice, besides in most cases the caller will miss half of what is being said and the information will just need to be repeated. So slow down and even more when you are providing information, such as account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Tone: The tone of your voice will often say more than the words being used. If you use a dull monotone voice the caller will wonder why you still have a job there or worse why you are even in business. So use a bright, cheerful voice and smile as you speak. It will go through the phone as helpful and sincere and someone that has a lot of energy to help them. A bit of caution with this one, do not overdo it as the caller will pick up on that right away. You must be sincere and not fake it.

Projection: For the best sounding voice over the phone, project your voice to a point several feet ahead of you. You know the saying, “You’re talking to the wall,” it is case it is perfectly fine to talk to the wall rather than aiming your speech at your phone or headset.

Enlist a friend and test these new skills with them and ask them to be honest. Tweak your voice as needed and remember that your goal is for the caller to have a positive experience and have a comfort level with your business. So here you have it, three very simple skills to remember when you’re on the phone. Practice and you’ll be surprise how well your message gets across over the phone to your customer. - CT


Karly West said...

Hi there!
Thanks for the lovely comment you left on my blog! Yours is very interesting!! Many good topics, and I especially love this one. There is definately an art to phone manners, and unfortunately I think a lot of talented people lack them!

CT said...

You're welcome Karly! You're so right and it really isn't that hard. - CT

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