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How much time do you spend training your team on the basics of effective phone calls, from greeting to farewell?

I’m not just talking about call centers. I’m talking about anyone at your company who is going to pick up a call and interface with customers.

Have you invested the time to listen to your staff members when they answer or place a call? Have you called your office or call center to experience what your customers deal with?

You should.

Most people do not have a natural sense for how to create a satisfying experience for customers over the phone. It can be taught, and it needs to be.

Three key points:

1 – Use an inviting tone.

You can actually hear a smile in someone’s voice, just like you can hear other expressions as well. Take a breath before you pick up the phone, and make sure you’re smiling. Do more than say “Acme Plumbing.”

Try using good morning or good day, let me know your name, and ask how you can help me. If you begin with a rushed tone of voice, without even the most basic interaction, you’re setting up yourself – and your customer – for a lousy experience.

2 – Be committed to solving the problem from the outset.

A simple, “I’m happy to help you with that” is a great way to begin the call. It lets me know you’re on my side. That I have an ally on the line. And if what you’re going to do requires a few steps, share those steps with me in advance of doing them.

I can’t read you mind, nor can I see what you’re doing. But if you tell me, you eliminate anxiety, and set expectations. Tell me if you’re going to place me on hold and let me know the approximate length of time. If you need to look up my file, tell me that’s what you’re doing so I don’t have to wonder why you’ve gone silent, but still hear background noise.

3 – Align before ending the call.

Make sure that you solved my problem or answered my question. How? By asking if you did. Review next steps, if there are any. Then ask if there is anything else that you can do to assist me.

With that same smile on your face, thank me for my call. If I had a complaint, you gained valuable knowledge and can improve your business. If I paid you a compliment, you got acknowledged. If you solved my problem, you made my day a little bit easier and provided some peace of mind.

You didn’t have to cure cancer. You just had to be pleasant, be committed to help, and then follow through.

It’s actually pretty easy. It just takes intentional and ongoing training.