Lyndon Ogden http://www.customerservicescontact.co.uk 4m 551
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
There will be a percentage of people who are calling customer services who are not happy.
Buoyed by TV programmes that tell them that they have to stand up for themselves and make sure they get what they want, and take no nonsense, they may even be quite aggressive. But even in the most difficult situation can be defused to some extent by the use of positive words. Words that sound upbeat should be the watchword of all customer service agents. Negative words and phrases should be avoided at all costs on the telephone. Phrases such as: it’s not possible, I shouldn’t think so, forget it, why haven’t you..?, I have no idea, I’ve never heard of it, it’s against our policy and other such phrases are definitely a no-no. Likewise bureaucratic phrases and jargon should be kept out of customer service exchanges they really do nothing but wind the caller up! Another important quality that any successful customer service agent needs to have is the ability to listen. I recall a conversation I had with the agent of a large online fashion retailer and I could not get a word in edge ways. As my frustration levels rose the agent wittered on until I had to be rude to get her to stop.
Sometime listening can be more important than speaking. It is a clever telephone customer service agent who lets the client finish before they jump in. There might be a lot of clues in what they have to say that will make the agent’s job much easier. No one likes to be second guessed and the best agents never fall into the trap of finishing sentences even if they are sure they know what the client is going to say.
Dealing with an irate caller is never fun and it could well be that an agent might have to take several calls one after another from disgruntled clients. It can be difficult to stay upbeat and it is important for the agent to realise that it is not personal. Keeping calm and even sympathising with the unhappy caller will render the best results. The calls I have made when I needed to complain have best been dealt with and my indignation soothed best by customer service agents who have seemed really to empathise with me. We all like to think that our concerns are as important to the person we are speaking to as they are to us, and as a customer service agent this needs to be the message that the client receives. The customer service agent can never given in to temper and should always try to get the customer to agree to a way forward before the call ends.
In the end, any organisation will only succeed as a result of “repeat business,” It is a loyal customer base that will make or break your establishment, not the first timers or one off customers.
There is no doubt that excellent telephone customer service in business and industry today are vital. When competition in the market place is stiff, it is customer service that will make the difference.
Lyndon Ogden is a writer on customer service and client retention including the use of a customer service number in the customer support mix.