Fax Me a Copy of Your Facial Expression
by Debra J. Schmidt
It’s faceless, untouchable and remote, yet it is the first moment of truth that your customers have with your company. A telephone can be an excellent marketing tool, or it can damage your customer relationships in ways you’ll never know, because your frustrated customers will just silently go away.
You are the voice of your company. Even if you don’t have control over how a call is initially answered, make sure that when a call does get to your department it is handled well.
When communicating by telephone, your choice of words is far less important than the tone of your message. You can test this out by saying “Thank you for bringing this to my attention” in four different tones.
Say these same words, but each time change your tone to:
Now say “Thank you for bringing this to my attention” in a happy, caring tone of voice but at the same time, cross your arms, scowl, slouch and look down. It’s difficult to convey a positive tone. Your body language will negatively impact your tone even when you think you’re sounding friendly.
Here are five tips for improving your telephone communications:
- Use a telephone headset in order to communicate freely with your hands and body.
- Sit up straight. When you slouch in your chair, your voice will send a message of apathy to your customers.
- Make sure the expression on your face is a pleasant one. A smile on your face puts a smile in your voice.
- If you don’t have a headset, avoid cradling the telephone receiver between your ear and shoulder. It’ll muffle the tone of your voice and make you come across as less trustworthy.
- Be sure to include a greeting–even when you’re busy. Avoid answering your phone abruptly saying, “Billing department, please hold.” Instead, say, “Hello, my name is…first.”
- Use appropriate filler words to replace body language. Your caller does not have the benefit of eye contact, a smile or nod of the head to reassure them that you are still listening. The use of filler words such as, “I understand,” “yes,” or even, “wow,” let your caller know that you are actively listening. Then your customer won’t need to ask, “Are you still there?”
Get together with your team to discuss customer expectations, how to manage first impressions and techniques for showing your customers you care. Sometimes in your desire to handle customer conversations as quickly as possible, you can neglect the use of common acknowledgments as you communicate. Yet the few extra seconds it takes to add them is well worth the time. If you simply focus on getting the task done and rush through service requests, you will miss tremendous opportunities to build customer loyalty.
You’ll learn more tips on how to communicate with your customers during these previously recorded Teleseminars, now available on audio CDs:
Copyright 2005, Debra J. Schmidt
Debra J. Schmidt, a.k.a. “The Loyalty Leader®”, helps companies
boost their profits by leading them to greater customer, employee and
brand loyalty. You can subscribe to Debra’s free email newsletter
packed with loyalty building tips at: www.TheLoyaltyLeader.com