Phone etiquette is one of the greatest tools you can train and assist your employees with to enable them to achieve exceptional customer service.
By ensuring that your customer service agents are fully trained in the best practices of phone etiquette, you’ll be better placed to keep callers happy. Happy callers result in more repeat business, the retention of existing customers and a glowing reputation for your business.
Let’s take a deeper look at what phone etiquette is, why it matters and some examples of effective phone etiquette tips to use.
What is phone etiquette?
Phone etiquette is the way that a caller represents themselves, and therefore your business to a customer or even a co-worker, through their communication on the phone.
Examples of phone etiquette can include:
- The way that a caller is greeted
- The way that a caller is referred to and addressed during the call
- The tone of voice used by the customer service agent during the call
- The choice of language and specific vocabulary used by the customer service agent
- The way that a call is ended and the way that the customer service agent signs off
Why does it matter?
We can’t stress the importance of training every one of your customer service agents in good phone etiquette.
The reputation and success of your entire business is at stake and it’s essential that you invest in ensuring that excellent phone etiquette is in place before putting customer service agents on the phone to your customers.
Here are 3 key reasons why customer service phone etiquette really matters:
Increases customer trust
Customers are likely to feel vulnerable when calling a business for the first time. They may not know what to expect and they may be unsure about whether the customer service agent truly has their best interests at heart.
By greeting new and existing customers professionally and politely, customer service agents can immediately offer peace of mind to callers. Listening carefully to requests, concerns or frustrations will help to increase a sense of connection with the caller and help to gain their trust.
Customers will put their trust in a customer service agent who demonstrates an empathetic manner. Teaching phone etiquette such as avoiding interruptions and communicating clearly and positively will help to make customers feel able to put their trust in your company.
First impressions matter
Quite simply, first impressions count. Often a phone conversation will be the first direct communication that a new customer has with your business. A customer service agent who has been fully trained in phone etiquette has the capacity to impress new customers with their manner and knowledge and build an important connection with them.
For existing customers, phone etiquette is equally important to ensure that they feel consistently valued, listened to and fully understood. Customer service agents who are always polite and professional will help to set you apart from other companies on the market.
Improves customer satisfaction
Customers are potentially putting their money into your business – so it’s only fair that they want to feel they’re getting value and that their needs are being met.
Speaking with a customer service agent who has a high level of phone etiquette will result in greater customer satisfaction.
Often customer satisfaction is linked to being treated respectfully (ie: being referred to as Sir or Madam), being able to gain access to required information, and being fully informed if there are long wait times or if they are going to be placed on hold.
Here are our top 7 customer service phone etiquette tips to keep callers happy:
Answer the call in good time
Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to wait for long periods of time to speak to a customer service agent. Put yourself in the position of a potential new customer – it’s obvious that answering their call in good time will immediately increase the chance of a positive experience.
It’s not necessary to answer the phone on the first ring – sometimes there is such a thing as answering too quickly and this can catch a customer off guard.
However, always aim to answer in a timely manner so that customers are never on hold for too long and don’t have time to begin questioning whether they should continue to wait.
If your customer service agents are aware that the customer has been waiting longer than is usually acceptable, it’s essential that they address this with an apology and a brief explanation. This can quickly help to remedy frustration felt by the customer, make them feel genuinely valued and to start the call on a more positive note.
As a business, you want to be accessible to your customer and for them to feel able to trust you. Introducing yourself is a brilliant way for a customer service agent to begin a call – making the customer aware of whom they’re speaking to, whilst asserting credibility and appearing professional.
Include tips on how customer service agents are to introduce themselves to customers within your training. Depending on the nature of, and the industry that your business operates in, you may want to ensure customer service agents use their first name and their job title when speaking with the customer about who they are and how they can help.
Being interrupted is often cited as one of the top examples of bad customer service when it comes to call centre interactions. It’s crucial that all customer service agents are trained in phone etiquette which makes them aware that interrupting a customer is not an option.
Avoiding interruptions is particularly important when it comes to customers who are complaining or who are frustrated by an experience with your business. Even if these customers spend longer than expected explaining their issues or talking about what they are unhappy with, customer service agents should listen until the customer seeks a response.
Listening to customers and not interrupting them will make them feel valued and taken care of. It can also provide customer service agents with useful information regarding exactly where issues have arisen or how they may be able help the customer most efficiently.
Many customers speaking to customer service agents in call centres can become quickly frustrated if they are unable to fully understand the words being spoken. They want quick and informative answers and solutions delivered in a clear and effective way.
Speaking clearly is an easy way to keep callers happy. Customer service agents need to understand the importance of:
- clearly enunciating words and spelling out any advanced vocabulary or terminology
- repeating information as and when required
- never eating, drinking or chewing when speaking to customers
Due to the national and international reach of many businesses in today’s world, it’s important that a range of people from different nationalities and backgrounds are able to clearly understand what customer service agents are saying.
There has been a lot of research to show that it’s possible to hear a person smiling when they speak. When it comes to customer service phone etiquette, your customer service agents need to maintain a positive and cheerful approach to every call that they make.
Due to the lack of non verbal clues such as body language being evident on a phone call, it’s essential that training focuses on tone of voice, word choice and inflection.
Customers will be much more likely to respond positively to a customer service agent who appears happy and enthusiastic than if they feel they are interacting with someone who is reluctant to speak with them.
Always return calls
This may seem like a basic point that goes without saying – yet so many businesses make the mistake of letting calls go un returned, leaving customers to chase them and follow up.
If a call is missed or a return call needs to be made, this needs to be logged clearly and actioned appropriately. There is no excuse for failing to return calls and doing so can have an extremely negative effect on customers.
A business that always returns calls (even if it’s simply to update a customer on the status of their request) will generally exceed a customer’s expectations and place themselves above the competition in the rest of the market.
Ask for permission to put a customer on hold
No one likes to be put on hold but it’s often necessary when your customer service agents require additional time to find out information that they may not have access to, or to approve something with a senior member of staff.
When putting customers on hold, it’s essential that good customer service phone etiquette is carefully executed.
Prior to putting any customer on hold, the customer service agent should seek the permission of the customer to do so. Ideally, they should also offer an approximate time scale of how long the customer should expect to wait.
It’s clear that all customer service agents should be fully trained in, and familiar with, the software and phone systems required – thus being confident in putting customers on hold efficiently.
Achieve better call centre agent training
When it comes to ensuring that your customer service agents are fully trained and providing the best phone etiquette to your customers, Evaluagent have your needs covered.
Our expertise and knowledge can offer you the peace of mind that you’re providing your employees with everything that they need to provide exceptional service.
With 1-1 online coaching systems and quality assurance software, we enable you to provide better call centre agent training – resulting in happier callers and the potential to increase your bottom line.