How To Train Employees in Better Phone Skills

Phone manner skills are very important to both develop and to train people in, whether you’re in a retail-style business or an organization that handles a lot of internal calls.It is possible to evaluate if your team’s skills are effective and how to retrain them if needed.

Step 1: Start with insight.

What are the things that annoy you the most?It could be people who don’t have much product or technical knowledge.You may be annoyed by people who use certain terms, such as a drawn out “ummmm” noise, which suggests they’re not interested in talking to you.Write all of theannoyances down.If you have phone handling issues, it is not a good idea to train others, but you can test the improvements yourself.

Step 2: Train your team member from the beginning of the call.

The customer’s overall impression of the experience can be determined by the speed at which the phone is picked up.If the phone rings more than three times, it is too long for the caller.People who pick up quickly may startle the caller.Pick up after the first ring, but before the second.Consider the greeting.Many people find a greeting such as “Hello, this is Jack speaking” subtly annoying, as they assume the person’s name is really “Jack Speaking”, or that an automated, informal response is suggestive of someone who is not able to help them sort out a problem.”Hello, this is Jack, how can I help you?” is a simple improvement.

Step 3: Take into account the tone and speed of your voice.

It might be speaking too fast, too slowly, in a quiet voice, or someone who places too much emphasis on certain tones.Listen to the calls of your staff members to find out if they have any of these qualities.You might find almost-automated responses frustrating, as if you’re talking to a zombie.

Step 4: The middle and end of the call are crucial.

Many perfectly good calls have been ruined by a bad ending, like an excellent meal that was ruined because of poor service at the cashier’s desk.A near-automated “Have a nice day” finale can turn people off with regards to having anything to do with your company, because if the words lack sincerity it implies the customer service contact likewise has no sincerity.The overall length of the call should be considered.adequate time should be given to the client if the office has in-depth and complex queries that take a while on the phone to sort out.Rushing a call or limiting call time can make the other person feel unimportant, whereas making the call much longer than necessary can be an issue.Train for quality over quantity.In the role your office plays as a consultant, employee knowledge of their industry and product is important.

Step 5: Ensure that the people on the phone know what they’re talking about.

When it is appropriate to recommend referral of the caller to someone who can help as soon as possible, this may mean that additional product or technical knowledge training is required.Call the employee you want to talk to.You can find out very quickly if this person is a cause for concern, as they may have a wonderful social manner face to face, but be rather unpleasant on the phone.

Step 6: You can use DVD or video training programs.

Similar one-to-one or group courses are an alternative.It’s a good idea to pair people up and role play for the purpose of developing their own insight.As they review the way in which they make the role-play calls, they may become more aware of their own phone mannerisms and how to improve.Don’t use the “training recordings” as a learning method.It’s an old fashioned way to record and replay phone calls for training sessions, and everyone listens to a coworker on a call.It can backfire as no one knows if their calls are being listened to or if the phone handler is having a bad day and it may put them on edge.

Step 7: If your staff members are working in a high-profile office, send them for drama or elocution lessons.

This is a great trick for smaller companies.The caller can be encouraged to imagine a person at the other end who is wearing a suit in a huge office, but who in reality is sitting in an informal small-business office or operating from a large, busy corporate call center.Stage techniques can help a person express themselves more clearly and confidently.When the person at the other end is trying to sound happy and helpful, but isn’t really, it’s similar to smiling when you pick up the phone.To speak more naturally and pleasantly, it’s best to relax the face and throat, which is taught in drama classes.A gentle smile is fine if it reaches not just your face, but also your eyes.

Step 8: Do phone roles.

Experiments with different types of user personality will allow your analysts to respond in the moment.Take the time to discuss how it could have been handled differently.This is a great way to see if the training is working.

Step 9: Take into account the cultural influences of your customers.

When misunderstandings arise, what is appropriate for some can cause a lot of problems.Some clients prefer to “chat” for a short time to build a personal connection before moving on to the main purpose of the call, while many customers prefer straight down to business and value speed and efficiency.Time zone differences are a major consideration.On the other side of the world where the client is, phone workers call during the day but not at night.Many people may find intrusions intolerable when they are interrupted during sleep or during family time.Slang that is local to your client’s area or culture on the other end of the phone should not be mimicked.In some cases it can be acceptable and make the person receiving the call feel more at ease, but this is actually a very small and rare demographic.Many people find a false accent to be insincere and fraudulent, or copying an accent as a sign of disrespect.

Step 10: Continue to watch the changes.

It gets easier when people know how to handle a call.Customer service focused people will bloom and possibly become customer service managers in the near future.It may be the result of other conditions such as personal or office relationship issues, hardware, system or procedural issues.Maybe they aren’t a customer service person.These people should be given non-phone work, but also encouraged to seek improvement on their own skills, as it is not just the company who can benefit from increased skills.