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6 Tips to Help You Deliver the Best Customer Support Through Phone

If you've observed consumer-business interactions over the past few years, then you may have noticed that phone calls are still popular. As it turns out, many people still prefer to call customer...

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If you've observed consumer-business interactions over the past few years, then you may have noticed that phone calls are still popular. As it turns out, many people still prefer to call customer support despite the popularity of modern communication tools and platforms. Chat, email, and text have not entirely replaced traditional calling.

customer support

Humans have a natural draw toward phone calls. Most people enjoy hearing the human voice. As such, it's a great idea to embrace and perfect phone support when running any business.

With businesses running on limited resources, you should prioritize functions that impact your organization most. Your organization's willingness to respond to its clients on the phone is often considered a key determinant of future interactions.

Customers shouldn't dread asking for assistance over the phone. It should be a pleasure talking to customer support agents. If you're astute about the process, you can transform the customer support function into a marketing opportunity. Excellent customer services create the feeling of being valued, which explains why phone support is critical.

When customers talk to real people, it makes them feel like they are getting personalized care. In some cases, they may forgive a few mistakes or inconveniences inherent in the core product or service. The call-back option is an excellent solution to highlight your company's client-centric nature.

Phone support is often considered one of the fastest ways to interact with a company. Solutions such as chat and email have improved significantly over the past few years, but they are not quite reaching the experience of basic calling. Here are six tips for excellent customer support over the phone:

  1. Answer with a smile
  2. Acknowledge the caller
  3. Be an active listener
  4. Always be courteous
  5. Handle difficult callers with patience
  6. Always let the caller know that you're paying attention

Answer With a Smile

Body language translates through a phone call. Although people can't see the person they're communicating with, they can detect how they feel from their tone. Simply put, you can hear someone's smile over the phone. The client will subconsciously pick up this friendly vibe on a customer support call.

In addition, the theory of reciprocity suggests that mood is contagious. A happy mood inspires positivity and vice versa. The best way to put a caller at ease is by smiling and being pleasant to talk to.

A great way to get off on the right foot when speaking with customers on the phone is by welcoming them to a pleasant exchange. They may be furious about a specific issue regarding your company, nonetheless, it's always wise to calm them down using positive assurances. For example, using “Good morning” or “It’s a pleasure to speak with you” can start things off on the right foot.

You don't have to wait for a response after the opening phrase and should proceed to state your name, company, and position. An excellent way to invite the caller to share their customer experience is by ending the introduction with, "How may I help you?"

Respecting the customer should be an integral part of any business. Remember, it takes one incidence of poor customer treatment to lose hundreds or thousands of clients in the era of social media. Even if that weren't the case, being respectful is ethical.

Acknowledge the Caller

An excellent way to show your customers that you care about them is through acknowledgment. Asking their names is a great start as it helps establish rapport. Most customers will call to express frustration over something.

Your best response is not to be defensive. If the service or product worked as required, there's a good chance you wouldn't be on the call.

Showing empathy is the best way to address concerns affecting your organization's products or services. Your customer likely knows that the customer support staff isn't responsible for quality assurance or the technical aspects of the company's products. They want to be heard and have the issue addressed.

Acknowledging the caller also means that you make their problem your own. Take ownership of their concerns. Consider sharing additional information such as access to the manager through a dedicated line. Your clients will appreciate this gesture regardless of whether you can solve their problem immediately or not.

Dismissing a customer's concerns as illegitimate will worsen the situation. It could easily lead to a lost customer. If the client has a large network, you may be looking at a massive hit on the company's brand. Let the customer vent. Allowing clients to express their anger is better than losing them to your competitors or having them share negative word-of-mouth about your brand.

Try to understand what the customers ultimately need. There are many situations where customers may be mismatched with a product or service since they weren’t aware of better solutions. Asking your clients to share their end goals with you is the best way to let them open up.

Aligning with your clients might look like this:

"Can you share more details?"

"I understand your frustration."

"Thank you very much for sharing your experience"

Be an Active Listener

Most clients call customer support because they want their concerns to be heard. That means they aren't interested in the "official policy" or "terms of service." Your staff should learn to listen intently.

Active listening confirms a customer's concerns and shows them that you care about their opinion. The support must learn how to be patient with customers even if it doesn't feel right. How a company treats unreasonable customers is more important than how it interacts with reasonable ones.

Listening is a crucial skill in any business. About half of all customers believe that businesses listening to their problems is empathetic and should be emulated. If you listen carefully, customers will tell you the solution. Some will give you hints on ways to deliver on it.

Accepting positive and negative feedback is the best way to shape your products in the 21stcentury. Sometimes, a company may pursue the wrong goals when it's easier to listen to customers' feedback.

Pivoting consumer demands means assuming a humble perspective regarding products and services. To further clarify specific issues, it helps to use follow-up questions. Doing so shows the customers that you're listening and not merely going through the motions without paying attention.

Hurrying customers may create a hostile reaction. There's nothing more embarrassing than a customer asking the support agent why they are trying to end the call before addressing the matter. Depending on the level of frustration, there's a chance the customer will share the disparaging treatment with their friends and family.

Below are a few listening skills that'll align your call agents with customer needs:

  • Track what the customer is saying
  • Don't interrupt
  • Demonstrate concern for the issues
  • Repeat and rephrase
  • Avoid distractions
  • Ask questions
  • Build trust
  • Be personable
  • Use positive language

Always Be Courteous

Customers understand that there are hierarchies in all organizations. The customer support agent may not have the power or skills to solve a specific problem, however, the interaction will calm down or escalate the situation. Staff members that have mastered the art of speaking politely can successfully calm a frustrated client through assurances and positive feedback.

You should pay close attention to intonation, as words may come across differently than they were meant. Remember, frustrated customers may be more sensitive to what they hear.

Being polite includes mastering several skills, such as careful listening, empathy, and humility. Once you've understood the issue plaguing a customer, you should apologize on behalf of the company. It doesn't matter if the customer is angry or unreasonable; you should let them know you’re sorry for the negative outcome they had with the service or product.

In some cases, the company may be in the right, but taking responsibility lets your clients know that the company cares about their feelings and experience.

Being courteous is not easy, because it demands a high level of maturity and humility. However, it's one of the best ways to avoid losing clients due to poor customer support services. Other benefits include:

  • Decreased escalations
  • Increased loyalty
  • Better atmosphere
  • Measurable statistics

Handle Difficult Callers with Patience

As a customer support staff member, you'll be required to deal with various customers daily. Some will be highly irritable, while others may be rude. Some clients will ask the same questions repetitively. As a professional, you must talk to them appropriately.

You can use a few tips to handle difficult customers without losing your temper or composure:

  • Staying calm
  • Picking words wisely
  • Letting the customers talk
  • Not putting callers on hold
  • Being honest
  • Maintaining positivity

When a frustrated customer contacts the care center, they're likely annoyed and would like a solution. Such callers are usually pessimistic about other aspects of the company. They may see faults where none exist due to the issue they encountered.

The key to maintaining a calm demeanor throughout the process is speaking about how you would like a customer support agent to talk to you if you were angry. Like other emotions, anger is contagious, but you can't let it get to you. It takes time to master attempting to calm others down without worsening the situation.

Honesty is the best policy. Lying to customers because the truth is too difficult to admit is a mistake. Therefore, what do you do when disappointing information needs to be delivered to a customer who's already angry?

You should present the information in the most empathetic, yet direct way. If what the customer is requesting is beyond the company's solutions, you should explain that your business cannot fully satisfy the request, but you’re happy to seek another solution.

The following skills can help diffuse the majority of customer outbursts and complaints:

  • Patience
  • Listening skills
  • Empathy
  • Positivity
  • Problem-solving

Always Let the Caller Know that You're Paying Attention

Customers make calls to businesses because they believe an important issue needs to be addressed. Therefore, failure to pay attention to them is insulting, as it conveys that their concerns are not valid.

Customer support should use different verbal cues to show they are engaged in what customers say. Interestingly, paying attention is one of the easiest communication skills to pick up. To practice this skill, consider trying the following:

  • Connect with customers
  • Use a friendly tone
  • Avoid the pronoun "we"
  • Use "verbal nods" for affirmation
  • Show compassion
  • Request confirmation appropriately

The fourth method, "using verbal nods," is particularly vital in showing customers that you're following the information they provide. Avoid interrupting the customer, even if you feel that they're inaccurate or unrealistic. Doing so will often worsen the situation.

The goal is to remain highly focused during a customer call. You can't do that if your mind keeps wandering to things outside the topic at hand. If you can anticipate a call, it's always a good idea to do some homework beforehand.

Handling customers' complaints and objections should never leave the client on the losing side of the argument. Remember, losing a client is worse than surrendering a sale. Sometimes, offering a refund where none is deserved will attract more sales due to positive word-of-mouth.

Integrating Great Customer Service with Helpware

Making phone calls to companies isn't out of fashion despite the availability of chat, email, and videoconferencing. This traditional communication method is still considered one of the most effective ways to work with customer support.

Upset customers expect to be respected, heard, and assisted as quickly as possible. The last thing they'll tolerate is an inexperienced or rude staff member. Helpware offers an excellent answering service that addresses all your concerns in the BPO industry.

You can expect Helpware to execute various tasks, including receiving messages, reviewing requests, handling communication orders, scheduling phone appointments, and supporting your teams. Helpware gives you access to a highly professional front office team with support for multiple languages.

Contact us today to learn how to take customer support to the next level.

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