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Telephone Customer Service

Telephone Impressions

All your customer has to go on in informing an impression over the telephone is the quality of your voice. Use the telephone to your advantage by practicing a few basic principles of telephone communication.

  1. Articulate. Because the telephone distorts the sound of your voice, it is necessary to articulate your words clearly. Practice saying, "Good morning, Miss Star." If rushed or mumbled, this could easily sound like, "Good morning, mister." try to speak slowly with enough volume so that the caller can understand you. Chewing gum, drinking coffee, or smoking cigarettes will also affect your ability to articulate clearly.
  2. Use the customer's name. Ask for and use the name of the caller. Customers want to be treated as individuals; using their names personalizes the conversation.
  3. Project confidence. Use your voice tone to instill a sense of confidence in the customer. Speaking in a monotone sounds mechanical, forced, and rehearsed. By varying your voice pitch, you can convey interest and enthusiasm.
  4. Respond visually. With each telephone conversation, try to visualize the caller. Put an imaginary face to the voice at the other end of the line. This will help you respond to an individual rather than to an anonymous voice. Even though callers cannot see you, they can hear a great deal in your voice. Smile while speaking and they will hear the smile. Facial expressions automatically change the quality of your voice and help to convey interest in the customer. Use your own personality to animate your conversations.
  5. Eliminate distractions. It is not impossible to do two things at once, but it is difficult. Turn down the radio, stop using your computer or typewriter, and don't try to carry on another conversation while you are on the telephone. Your customers expect and deserve your complete attention.

At least two people are involved in any telephone conversation. If you seem to be doing all the talking, pause to let the customer ask questions or add information. if the customer is doing most of the talking, show that you are listening by asking clarifying questions or injecting "I see" or "Yes, I understand" when appropriate.

Source: AMI's How-To Book Customer Service Excellence: It's In the Details.