Telephone Soft Skills for Everyone

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

 

“Even with all the new technology, people skills are actually more important now,” Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said in a recent interview. “Whether it’s providing day-to-day services in our bank branches or managing our data analytics, it’s all about people.”

More than ever, what were once known as “soft skills” have become core to economic growth, which implies the need for corporate cultures and values that align with productive, resilient, imaginative people who can be proud of the work they do. In other words, it means becoming a good corporate citizen, whose virtues also bolster the bottom line.

We agree, and here’s a LinkedIn comment I happened to receive yesterday and seems appropriate to share:

“Nancy knows her stuff when it comes to soft skills training and showing everyone in the organization how to handle phone calls professionally. It may not seem to be that important until you attend her conferences, programs or classroom training. Our organization has used her services and hosted training sessions for thousands of retailers – outstanding results. Thanks, Nancy.” (B.D VP. Digial Comm., BrandSource.

Thank you B.D!

All this being said, I’m trying something new. A fellow blogger recently told me: “Longer blogs are read more.” While I’m personally not a fan of LONG blogs, I am going make this a bit longer than normal and see if the results are any different. You, of course, are the ultimate judge.

Yes, yes, I know, it depends on the topic. But in my opinion, even topics I’m interested in can be too long.

So what I need from you, gentle reader is sort of like the story of the THREE BEARS: Papa, Mama, and Baby. Is this blog too short, too long or JUST RIGHT? To see if you’re reading this all the way through, we’ll send a complimentary copy of our book, 50 Little Tips That Make A Big Difference. Let me know with an email to nancyf@telephonedoctor.com.

Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training – SOFT SKILLS

The Do’s and Don’ts of TELEPHONE SKILLS for EVERYONE.

1.     Don’t pick up the phone without a SMILE. Remember the Tel Doc tagline: A phony smile is better than a real frown.

2.     Don’t CHEW anything while talking on the phone. The only things that should be in your mouth while you are on the phone are your teeth and your tongue.

3.     Do have a pen or pencil and paper by every phone! Frustrating when the caller wants to leave a message and hears, “Wait a sec, I gotta get a pencil.” Agggggg. It should be there.

4. Do use their name. Monogram the call. When the caller tells you their name, USE IT. Don’t, however, abuse it. Overuse can as bad as non-use.

5. Don’t use “BETTY SPEAKING” when answering a phone call. Betty Speaking is married to Bob Speaking. All you need is “THIS IS BETTY.” Then STOP. Anything after your name erases your name.

6. Don’t be part of the Bureaucratic Bounce. That’s letting a caller go from department to department to department and usually, it’s only because YOU didn’t know or have the information in the first place.

7. Don’t forget to THANK THE CALLER when you come back after leaving them on hold. This is one of the most forgotten techniques of all.

8. Learn how to properly place a caller on HOLD. Bottom line – it’s NOT “hang on a sec, I’ll be right back.” That’s a big fat fib. Nothing takes a second. ALWAYS ask if the caller is able to hold. Tell them the truth. “This could be a minute or two. I need to check with Mr. Jones.” (Or whatever you need to do.) If it will take you toooooo long to get the information, let the caller know. Pride yourself on being honest. If too long, make sure you offer to call them back. (I know, I know, some folks aren’t in a position to call the customer back.) Then again, let the caller know the TRUTH of the length of time they’ll be on hold. Not knowing is a real frustration. Worse is being told ‘just a second.’

9. Do not let the caller “just sit there in silence.” Silence on the phone is another frustration. Callers feel as though they’ve been disconnected. Explain, if you must, “The line will be silent for a short time while I’m checking on this for you; however, I’ll still be here, Mr. Jones.”

10. Make SMILING a condition of employment and grounds for termination. Yes, this is a repeat of Number 1. Why? Because it needs to be said twice; sometimes more than that.

BONUS: “How can I help you?” is NOT necessary on the initial greeting. We’ll go into that on another blog.

Are you aware being put on hold used to be the #1 frustration of the American public? Now? The automated systems have surpassed that!

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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly

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