Those of you who have worked with me will have heard me say that the voice tone you project over the phone accounts for more than three quarters of your communication.
We all have bad days. But when your customer is at the receiving end of your bad day, they only have your voice tone to go by so will automatically make an assumption about your attitude and that of your company.
To avoid fueling a dissatisfied customer, or even worse losing a valuable customer, it’s vitally important you get it right.
How are you feeling when you pick up the phone or make a call?
The caller cannot see you, so he/she will make an instant judgement of you and your company simply by your tone of your voice. If you’re still feeling stressed from the previous call, or you are tired, hungry, grumpy or even hangry, you could be communicating these negative feelings in your voice tone and be perceived as disinterested, distracted, busy, or bored.
Your caller’s perception is their reality and it extends beyond you to your entire company. So their perception of your bad day could not only negatively set the tone of that call, but affect their attitude towards you and your company as well as any future interactions they may have with you.
So how do you get it right?
Every day we get so busy and focused on our day to day tasks that we can forget how we are coming across to our customers. I was reminded of this many years ago by a friend, who politely informed me that I sounded busy whenever I answered the phone. Yes I was busy, but had never considered how my busy-ness was being perceived at the receiving end.
To avert your callers thinking you are too busy for them and taking their business elsewhere, here are 5 simple yet very vital tips that that I would like to share with you.
- Visualise each call as the first call of the day.
At the start of a normal day we feel more energized with less on our mind. As the day progresses we become burdened with tasks, phone calls, meetings, stresses…this list goes on. To refresh your energy after each call, take a deep breath to regroup and smile before taking the next one. Your caller will hear your smile over the phone and you’ll be amazed at how nice your customers become!
- Be positive in your greeting.
When you answer the phone with a smile it not only changes your voice tone to help you sound happy and upbeat, it also produces happy chemistry in your brain, helping you to feel it.
To maintain rapport with your caller, it’s important that your words are congruent with this positive feeling.
Always greet your caller enthusiastically with a good morning, good afternoon or welcome, followed by your company name or department name, and your lastly your name. Keep it short and sweet without repeating information they have already heard, e.g. if they have already been answered by an auto announcement or the receptionist, you don’t need to say the company name again.
- Use your customer’s name
Dale Carnegie, author of iconic book How to Win Friends and Influence People remarked, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”
Your customers love hearing the sound of their own name because in their world they are the most important person right now. But don’t overdo it or you may start sounding a little ‘salesy’.
Use your customer’s once near the start of the call to build rapport and show you are listening, e.g. Hi John how may I help you today? A second time to show interest during questioning, and lastly to leave a great impression at the end of the call, e.g. Thanks for your call John.
Make sure you get their preferred pronunciation right too. Incorrect pronunciation of a customer’s name is a sure way to get them off-side rapidly. And using their name correctly will quickly build trust and rapport.
- Be a problem solver
In a Greek restaurant in Melbourne recently, I was amused to read a sign that said, ‘Bring Back Common Sense”. Funny but sadly true, many companies focus on process and procedures and common sense seems to have become a dying art. We can forget to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and use it. Common sense isn’t so common anymore because everyone is scared of making a mistake or being sued.
Sometimes the difference between an ordinary customer experience and an extraordinary one is that we have used our common sense and solved a problem for our customer, rather than simply saying ‘no’.
I recently enjoyed an exceptional experience from a national clothing company, whose assistant offered to order a jacket for me that was out of stock, rather than saying no. Not only that, she thought ahead to nip a potential problem in the bud by ordering two of them, just in case the first one got lost!
Find ways that you can problem solve for your customers and add to their delight. The answer should never be no, rather how can I help?
- Say please and thank you
In our fast paced, online driven world we live in, it’s so easy to forget the basics. Nanna’s manners have never gone out of fashion and they can make or break your customer’s experience.
Think of the last time you heard please or thank you from a business that you dealt with? Many of them seem to forget the niceties that can make a huge impact on a customer’s feeling of appreciation and value.
So find small ways to say thank you to your customers every day. Not only because they will appreciate it, but because it’s a kind thing to do and you’ll be rewarded with a boost in positive energy.
And when things temporarily go pear shaped, and they often do, a customer that feels valued and appreciated will be more forgiving and you will get them back on track much more smoothly.