Regardless of your industry, employee phone handling can make or break your small business. You work hard to drive traffic, distribute marketing materials, and build a strong reputation, so every incoming call matters. Setting expectations for your employees is the first step towards guaranteeing that each customer who calls your business is treated according to your high standards. When training employees for excellent phone handling, consider the following:

1. Mirror

People like to hear their words repeated back to them. Whether your employees are taking an order over the phone or assisting with an issue, train them to repeat back to customers.

For example, use mirroring to let the customer know that you are listening and understand their concern when you say, “I would like to be clear about the issue. What I hear you saying is…”

When employees are taking an order, instruct them to repeat back the order to verify accuracy before ending the call.

2. Focus

Focusing on our customers is always easier when they are in front of us, but how can employees be trained to focus when assisting customers over the phone?

  • Do not type unless it directly pertains to the conversation.
  • Do not read while speaking with a customer on the phone.
  • Close your eyes if you find that you are visually distracted.

3. Care

Train employees to invest in customers and treat them as they would their own grandmother. During phone handling training, encourage employees to develop relationships with customers by asking questions and investing in them as people. When employees address customers by name, it also communicates appreciation.

4. Complete Sentences

One word answers come across as curt and rude. When customer service employees deliver responses in one word answers, it communicates that they are not really interested in helping and would prefer the call to be over.

To piggy back on this, encourage employees to speak in positive language, even when delivering a negative message. For example, rather than telling a customer “No, we can’t do that,” try “Unfortunately, I am unable to do that, but what I can do is…” There are many ways to tell a customer “No” or redirect the customer with positive speech in a way that will result in a happy customer.

5. Evaluate

As a business owner, you work hard to train your employees on phone handling skills. But, ongoing evaluations and trainings are important to ensure that standards are consistently maintained.

Using a call recording and employee scoring tool, like Call Informer, to assist employees with continuing phone handling success will create an environment of accountability and help employees to do their best. Call Informer is easy to use:

  • Create a custom scoring template.
  • Record calls.
  • Score calls and review with employees.
  • Retrain if necessary.

Another great tool is secret shopping. Companies like Secret Shopper can provide periodic phone calls to test phone handling standards.

Customer phone handling is an important part of any small business and should not be ignored. Check out these additional resources for more information on how to improve customer service in your business:

http://socialhospitality.com/2016/08/7-actionable-customer-service-tips-increase-restaurant-revenue/

https://www.helpscout.net/blog/customer-service-tips/

https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/04/tips-for-amazing-customer-service.html

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