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ARTICLESTelephone Manners

PUT HIM ON HOLD - PROFESSIONALLY

While answering a call and initial greetings are important, there are other aspects in telephone conversation that lead towards customer satisfaction.

TAKING NOTES

During the course of the conversation it is imperative to take notes that may be required to recall later. This avoids check backs thereby portraying professionalism.

It also makes sense to get the details right even if it means asking the customer to spell, as many a pronunciations have different spellings. Also many a pronunciation could have a totally different meaning. It is better to get it right the first time than be embarrassed later.

SMOOTH TRANSFER

It is important that an operator or agent picking the call be clear about the customer’s requirement and the company’s directory. This is to avoid the customer swinging from desk to desk repeating his query. An experience, that is most annoying. Ensure that it stops with one transfer. If this person cannot help, then explain and take the details with an assurance of a call back from the right person. This warrants a close follow up to ensure that your commitment is met.

While transferring a call it looks efficient to brief your colleague receiving the call, to avoid repetition, save time and effort and something that is definitely less frustrating for the customer. This also helps your colleague to mentally prepare before answering the call.

“PLEASE HOLD” – DO IT WITH FINESSE

Quite often a customer may have to be put on hold. It may be to check out some details or to transfer the line to a colleague who is busy with another call. If you have to put a customer on hold …

• Seek permission from the customer before putting him on hold.

• Explain to him the reason for doing this. Remember he cannot see you. It is important to let him know what you are up to.

• Let him know how long he would be on hold. Maybe the customer does not have the time and would prefer a call back or speak to someone else in the department.

• Give the customer time to respond, as no one is happy doing the “gold fish act”, where, as you open your mouth to reply, you have already been put on hold.

• When placing a customer on hold use the hold button and not by closing the mouth piece with your palm, for the customer is not interested to know whether Susan wore a blue dress or where Rick went for dinner last night.

• When you return, thank the customer for holding rather that being sorry for placing him on hold, for if you were sorry you would not have kept him on hold in the first place.

• Get back to him if it is going to take longer than promised. It makes sense to explain the situation with an assurance to call back, get your act together in good time and call back with solutions and alternates. Again this saves time, avoids anxiety and sounds efficient.

ADVANTAGE ON HOLD

Sonia while “on hold” to reconfirm her reservation learnt about the airline’s frequent flyer program. Something she was not aware of and was eager to know more. Along with her reconfirmation she made enquiries about the program and eventually registered herself.

Customers usually call with a specific requirement not knowing what else a company can offer. While on hold we have the opportunity of letting him know of other products and services. Something far better than listening to the local FM station or music you never wanted to hear.

‘Hold’ if used well and appropriately becomes an excellent marketing tool leading to new avenues in business.

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COMMENTS

Anita

This is so true. It sounds so simple ... yet organisations don't get it right!!

If only people take a little bit more care to this aspect it would go a long way in customer experience. If the call centre agent has the right attitude he can do it professionally. Otherwse it can be absolute slipshod. What is worse is that many orgnisation are absolutely oblivious about this. They just do not care about the customer.


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