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Customer Service Begins Here
The difference between a positive and
negative experience with a phone call is
The human factor in all communications
makes the difference.
Customers need to feel
taken care of,
When you answer the phone, it’s that
'human moment' when customers can
actually experience what it would be like
working with you and your people. It's the
opportunity to create relationships for the
future of your department
A phone is ringing somewhere in your
office. By the third ring the call should be
answered. BUT… before you pick up that
1. Clear your mind of all but the task at
hand – responding to the caller.
2. Prepare your phone voice
3. Offer your standardized greeting.
4. Be prepared before you respond.
6. Treat the caller with respect; be
efficient, effective, empathetic and
Clear Your Mind of all but the
Task at Hand – Responding to the
Turn away from your computer and desk
when you answer the phone
Put down your reading material.
Focus your attention on the caller
Take the gum out of your mouth
No drinking or eating during the
Prepare Your Phone Voice
According to John Robertson of EZINE
@articles, within 60 seconds people will
make assumptions about your education,
background, ability and personality based
on your voice alone.
Your voice is very important to your career
and your personal life. When you are
talking 87% of the listener’s opinion of you
is based on how you say it according to
That means that only 13% remains to
make a positive impression about what we
are saying. Project a tone that conveys
enthusiasm, confidence, friendliness and
Let your personality shine through on the
Take a deep breath before you pick up the
Smile before you speak
Assume your speaking voice, controlling
speed, tone and volume
Be Prepared Before You Respond
Listen not only to what the speaker is saying but
to their unspoken thoughts as well. What is it this
person isn’t saying that is important to the
Also listen to the caller without interrupting.
Occasionally interject with phrases such as "I
understand" and "Tell me more" to show interest
and encourage the caller to continue.
Be sure to get clarification. “If I understand you
correctly…”, “So you are saying that…” “This is
what I understand you are telling me…”
Treat the Caller with Respect; Be
Efficient, Effective, Empathetic and
5 Forbidden Phrases
1. “I Don’t Know”
2. “I/We Can’t Do That”
3. “You Have To”
4. “Just a Second”
“I Don’t know”
“That’s a good question, let me find out for
“I/we can’t do that”
“Here’s what we can do.” Everyone expects that
something can be done about any situation. By
offering hope, you will be seen as a problem
“Here’s how we can help” or “Here’s what needs
to be done” or “I need to” When someone is
calling you for help, avoid putting the
responsibility back on them by using the “you”
word. Give options using the words “we” or “I”.
“Just a second”
Give an honest answer about how long it
will take you to complete whatever you are
doing AND tell them what you are doing.
Use the hold button.
Try to find a way to state the situation positively.
The customer is not always right but s/he is
always the customer. They hate to hear no, as
they expect their situation will be resolved to
their advantage. If you can’t do what they are
asking, be sure to tell them what you can do.
“Will you hold while I…” or May I please
put you on hold? (and wait for the answer)
Once you have placed a caller on Hold,
check back every 15-30 seconds to
update them. Thank them for holding and
be as specific as you can about how much
longer you expect to keep them on Hold.
Each time allow them the opportunity to
decide if they would like to continue
Handle your current caller before you rush
off to another…first come, first serve.
“Who is this?”
“May I have your name please?” or “Who
is calling, please?” or “May I ask who’s
“We can’t do that.”
“I believe we can offer (alternative) ...will
that work for you?”
“I can take a message.”
“I’ll be happy to take a message and be
sure it gets to (the correct person) right
“So and So is responsible for that.”
“I’m sorry you’re having this problem, what
can I do to help?”
“No one here would have promised you
anything like that.”
“If I understand you correctly, you were
promised…” “Let’s figure out how we can
When the caller needs to be transferred,
be polite and ask if they would like to be
Ask the caller for their number in case you
lose them during the transfer.
Give the caller the name of the person to
whom you are transferring them along with
their number in case the call does not go
through or in case they would like to call
If at all possible, stay on the line until the
transfer is complete.
If you have a frustrated caller who has been
transferred several times already, do not
transfer them again. Take ownership of their
situation. Take the caller’s name and number,
find the appropriate person and have them
return the call.
Check back to make sure the caller’s situation
has been resolved. The caller will always
remember your kindness and will tell others
about your terrific customer service skills.
When taking a message for someone else, be
sure you get the following information recorded:
1. The caller’s name and company/department
2. The correct spelling of the caller’s name, date
and time of the call
3. Complete telephone number
4. Brief explanation for call.
Close cordially. When ending a call,Close cordially. When ending a call,
summarize important points. Ifsummarize important points. If
appropriate, conclude with some small talkappropriate, conclude with some small talk
and if not, at least say something pleasantand if not, at least say something pleasant
so that you will be remembered as bothso that you will be remembered as both
gracious and professional.gracious and professional.
Finally, thank the person for calling andFinally, thank the person for calling and
allow him or her to hang up first; if he orallow him or her to hang up first; if he or
she does not, replace your receiver gently.she does not, replace your receiver gently.
Test Your TelephoneTest Your Telephone
1. How long does it take you and/or1. How long does it take you and/or
your switchboard operator to answeryour switchboard operator to answer
the phone?the phone?
a) 5 rings or lessa) 5 rings or less
b) 3 rings or lessb) 3 rings or less
c) under 3 ringsc) under 3 rings
After two rings, callers are wonderingAfter two rings, callers are wondering
what’s going on. Your phone should bewhat’s going on. Your phone should be
answered in-person by the second ring oranswered in-person by the second ring or
by your voice-mail system by the fourthby your voice-mail system by the fourth
2. Have you ever said, “Please hold” to a2. Have you ever said, “Please hold” to a
a) yesa) yes
b) nob) no
Never put a caller on-hold without asking forNever put a caller on-hold without asking for
their permission, and then waiting for theirtheir permission, and then waiting for their
response. Putting customers on hold withoutresponse. Putting customers on hold without
their consent is a sure-fire formula to losetheir consent is a sure-fire formula to lose
3. How long does it take a person3. How long does it take a person
on hold to become annoyed?on hold to become annoyed?
a) 2 minutesa) 2 minutes
b) 30 secondsb) 30 seconds
c) 1 minutec) 1 minute
d) 17 secondsd) 17 seconds
Studies show that after only 17 seconds, callersStudies show that after only 17 seconds, callers
on hold become annoyed. The exception ison hold become annoyed. The exception is
when the greeter explains why the caller is beingwhen the greeter explains why the caller is being
asked to hold and provides the estimated timeasked to hold and provides the estimated time
required. Knowing beforehand how long theyrequired. Knowing beforehand how long they
can expect to wait reduces the chance ofcan expect to wait reduces the chance of
annoyance, particularly among long distanceannoyance, particularly among long distance
and cellular phone callers. Another option toand cellular phone callers. Another option to
prevent frustration is to offer the caller the optionprevent frustration is to offer the caller the option
of either holding or hanging up and having theirof either holding or hanging up and having their
call returned within a brief, specific time period.call returned within a brief, specific time period.
4. When you’re talking on the phone4. When you’re talking on the phone
while a visitor walks in, who getswhile a visitor walks in, who gets
a) the visitora) the visitor
b) the callerb) the caller
The person who made the effort to show up in-personThe person who made the effort to show up in-person
gets priority. That means you need to interrupt the caller.gets priority. That means you need to interrupt the caller.
The quickest way to get that caller’s attention is to callThe quickest way to get that caller’s attention is to call
their name. “George, I have someone who just walkedtheir name. “George, I have someone who just walked
in, can I ask you to hold for a moment?” Wait for theirin, can I ask you to hold for a moment?” Wait for their
agreement. Then acknowledged the visitor, tell themagreement. Then acknowledged the visitor, tell them
you’ll be a moment, and wrap-up your telephoneyou’ll be a moment, and wrap-up your telephone
If you’re talking to customer in person when the phoneIf you’re talking to customer in person when the phone
rings, then get someone else to answer the phone, orrings, then get someone else to answer the phone, or
use voice mail. Abandoning customers to answer theuse voice mail. Abandoning customers to answer the
phone is downright rude and is a guaranteed way to losephone is downright rude and is a guaranteed way to lose
customers. As obvious as this seems, it’s one of thecustomers. As obvious as this seems, it’s one of the
most common blunders in customer service.most common blunders in customer service.
5. When receiving a call for a co-worker,5. When receiving a call for a co-worker,
how are you most likely to respond?how are you most likely to respond?
a) “Cuong’s not in right now, so I’ll have to take aa) “Cuong’s not in right now, so I’ll have to take a
b) “Cuong’s still at lunch. Can I take ab) “Cuong’s still at lunch. Can I take a
c) “Cuong’s should be back soon. Could youc) “Cuong’s should be back soon. Could you
call back in about 15 minutes”call back in about 15 minutes”
All of these statements have flaws that make theAll of these statements have flaws that make the
greeter sound unhelpful and unprofessional.greeter sound unhelpful and unprofessional.
Consider each response.Consider each response.
a) The statement, “I’ll have to take a message,”a) The statement, “I’ll have to take a message,”
makes it sound like an inconvenient chore.makes it sound like an inconvenient chore.
Instead, change two words: “I’ll be happy to takeInstead, change two words: “I’ll be happy to take
a message.” The bonus is that you don’t worka message.” The bonus is that you don’t work
any harder but you convey the impression ofany harder but you convey the impression of
someone with a terrific customer servicesomeone with a terrific customer service
b) It’s completely irrelevant that the co-worker isb) It’s completely irrelevant that the co-worker is
at lunch. The caller might be thinking, “That’s aat lunch. The caller might be thinking, “That’s a
long time to be at lunch!” It’s also irrelevantlong time to be at lunch!” It’s also irrelevant
whether your coworker is “in a meeting” or “withwhether your coworker is “in a meeting” or “with
a customer” or “busy”. The only relevanta customer” or “busy”. The only relevant
information is they’re not coming to the phone.information is they’re not coming to the phone.
Therefore, “Cuong is not available right now” isTherefore, “Cuong is not available right now” is
the most appropriate response, followed by, “I’dthe most appropriate response, followed by, “I’d
be happy to take a message.”be happy to take a message.”
c) asking a caller to phone back laterc) asking a caller to phone back later
gives the impression that you’re too lazygives the impression that you’re too lazy
or disorganized to take a message. Thisor disorganized to take a message. This
gives a potential customer a terrific excusegives a potential customer a terrific excuse
to call your competitor.to call your competitor.
Thank you for yourThank you for your
John Robertson of EZINE
John Robertson is currently the TrainingJohn Robertson is currently the Training
Manager for a major wireless carrier andManager for a major wireless carrier and
has over 30 years training and traininghas over 30 years training and training
management experience. He has joinedmanagement experience. He has joined
EzineArticles Member since November 12,EzineArticles Member since November 12,