When your number one job duty is to talk to strangers all day, it takes a particular set of skills.
Call handlers have a tougher job than most may think-it takes time and effort every day to do their very best and not only make their callers happy, but make their employers happy as well. There are many factors that contribute to what makes a “good” call, but let’s focus on some of the simpler, over-arching best practices that all call handlers should apply to every call.
As soon as answering the phone, the number one thing that any call handler should be thinking about is the tone of their voice. We like people who like us, and if the phone is answered with a negative, bored, or mundane tone, the caller is already going to be turned off by feeling like they are being a bother to the receiver of the call. It doesn’t matter if the call handler is tired, hasn’t had their coffee yet, bored, distracted, thinking about lunch or simply in a bad mood-they must be “on” when they are answering the phone to speak to a potential customer. If not, they may have already lost the call.
In a study by Dr. Mehrabian, it was found that only 7% of the message people receive in a conversation is dependent on the words you use. Interestingly, 38% is reflected in tone of voice and 55% is made up of facial expression or body language. Since body language and facial expressions are not apparent on a phone call, this makes the tone of your voice the most important part of conversing on a telephone call.
Once the phone is answered with a confident tone, it is important next to make the caller feel as if they are a person, not just another individual ringing through. Besides offering their own name, the call handler should ask for the caller’s name as well in a genuine way, not as if they are just ticking off a box as a question they must ask.
In How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, he says “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” This is why after asking for the caller’s name, it is also vital to use it throughout the call-in a natural way. If you overuse their name it’ll make you sound disingenuous. Every call is different, and every caller has their own personality-treat them this way.
Although call handlers must ensure to treat each caller with respect and friendliness, it is still imperative that the call handler is in control of the conversation, and does not give too much leeway to the caller. This conversation is the employees’ job, and at the end of the call, the phone handler needs to receive a commitment from the caller.
The call handler can be informative as well as answer any questions the caller has while still having control of the conversation; (s)he must make sure that they are leading the caller to the ultimate endgame-setting an appointment with the business, while still leaving a positive impression.
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