Phone etiquette is a very important part of delivering outstanding customer service. Though it may seem like common sense for some to spit out the bubble gum before handling customer service calls, others need a nudge in the right direction to deliver the quality of service that customers demand. Agents can significantly improve the quality of service delivered to customers by following these five simple rules of good phone etiquette.
#1 – Agents should have nothing in their mouths while on the phone.
While agents should be allowed to keep covered beverages at their desks to prevent hoarseness, those beverages should only be consumed between calls. Nothing else should go into the agent’s mouth while on the phone with customers or in queue to receive customer calls. This includes but is not limited to: nail biting, use of any tobacco products, eating, and gum chewing. The headsets used when talking with customers over the phone will pick up any mouth noises, amplifying them into the ear of the customer.
#2 – Agents should avoid personal conversations with other agents while on the workroom floor.
Though it may be necessary to occasionally consult with a coworker on a business related topic, all other conversation should be limited to breaks and held off the work room floor. Even if the agents involved in the conversation are off the phone and out of the queue, personal conversations should not be held on the work room floor. These conversations may distract other agents who are working, and may result in customers hearing conversations of a personal nature that some may find offensive. Customers may also feel that the agent that they are engaged with is not giving the customer’s problem his or her full attention. Additionally, the presence of noisy personal conversation in a call center environment projects an unprofessional image that may reflect badly on the business.
#3 – Address customers formally unless you are given permission to address the customer personally.
The means calling the customer “˜Mrs. Hunter’, instead of “˜Amber’, unless the customer asks you to refer to her as “˜Amber’. If given permission to address a customer informally, do not use a nickname variant of the customer’s name. If the customer introduces himself as “˜Joseph’, do not begin calling the customer “˜Joe’. Addressing a customer formally denotes respect, and tricky calls can result in smoother resolutions in the customer feels from the first moment of his call that he is being treated with respect.
#4 – Never use slang or offensive language in a conversation with a customer.
Though a customer may use slang language or offensive language when speaking to agents, agents should maintain a professional demeanor at all times. Agents should never use slang or offensive language while on the phone with customers, and should refrain from using such language with other agents while on the workroom floor.
#5 – Try to avoid transferring the call, but if absolutely necessary, try to warm transfer the call.
There’s little that aggravates customers more than waiting on hold for even a few minutes to get an agent, and then being transferred to someone else. Agents should at least make an attempt to resolve the customer’s issue before transferring to another agent or department, with few exceptions. If a transfer is absolutely necessary, agents should explain that to the customer why they are being transferred and the most direct route to get back to the appropriate department should they be disconnected. The agent should then place the customer on hold and attempt a warm transfer to the correct department. Though call volumes often won’t permit warm transfers, agents should at least make the effort to save the customer the frustration of explaining the problem to another person…and mitigate the risk that the customer has been transferred to the wrong extension.
Teaching customer service representatives these five basic rules of good phone etiquette will help ensure that customers receive superior service with each call, reduce escalations and bounce rates, and encourage repeat customers.
About the Author
Amber Hunter is former customer service representative turned freelance writer / web designer. She has several years of customer service experience in a corporate call center environment, and uses her skills today to provide her clients with excellent customer service. Samples of her work can be viewed on The Bucket Truck Blogger.