When it comes to handling customer complaints, over the phone communication skills, patience and a genuine desire to find a resolution are essential. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to handle customer complaints through telephone conversations.
1. Prepare Yourself Mentally;
Before picking up the phone remind yourself that any frustration expressed by the customer is not directed at you personally but rather aimed at the situation.
2. Active Listening.
- Allow the customer to share their concerns without interruption.
- Show empathy and understanding by using sounds like “uh huh”. I see.”
3. Stay Calm and Polite.
Keep your emotions in check and maintain a tone.
- Avoid becoming defensive or taking the complaint personally.
4. Demonstrate Empathy;
Once the customer has finished explaining their issue express understanding and empathy, towards their situation. You could say phrases like “I’m truly sorry that you’ve had this experience” or “I can understand why this would be upsetting.”
5. Clarify the Issue;
Ensure that you fully comprehend the complaint by asking ended questions and repeating back what you’ve understood to ensure clarity.
- If you have knowledge on how to address the issue explain the steps, to the customer.
- If you are unsure inform the customer that you will find out or direct them to someone who can assist.
7. Take Ownership;
Regardless of whether or not the problem was caused by you or your department assume responsibility on behalf of the company. Avoid assigning blame.
8. Act Swiftly;
Strive to resolve the issue. If it requires time or further investigation provide the customer with a timeframe. Adhere to it.
9. Follow Up;
If you have committed to getting to a customer ensure that you follow through. Even if the problem has been resolved it is advisable to check in after a day or two to confirm customer satisfaction.
10. Document Complaints;
Maintain records of complaints and their resolutions. This aids, in enhancing company services and products while providing guidance for interactions.
Remember, when customers express their concerns, they often seek acknowledgment and resolution. They want to feel heard and taken seriously. Effectively addressing their complaint can transform a customer into a one.
A Handy Guide, to Managing Phone Calls
Whether you’re responsible for handling calls in a setting working at a call center or simply looking to improve your personal phone call management skills adopting a structured approach can greatly enhance the overall experience. Here’s a brief guide to assist you;
- Create an environment; Ensure that your workspace is quiet and free from any distracting background noise.
- Equip yourself accordingly; Make use of high quality headphones or handsets to ensure audio during conversations.
- Keep resources nearby; Have documents, a notepad and a pen accessible.
2. Professional Greetings
- Begin with a friendly salutation such as “Hello” or “Good [morning/afternoon/evening].”
- Introduce yourself professionally; “This is [Your Name] speaking from [Company Name or Department]. How may I assist you today?”
3. Attentive Listening
- Practice listening by refraining from interrupting the caller and providing them opportunity to express their concerns.
- Display engagement through verbal cues like acknowledging statements with phrases such, as “I understand ” “Certainly ” or encouraging them to continue sharing their thoughts.
4. Seeking Clarification
- If there is anything that you find unclear politely ask the caller to provide information.
- Repeat back the points to ensure that you have accurately understood their message.
5. Dealing with Challenging Callers
Remain composed and avoid becoming defensive.
- Show empathy, towards the caller. Reassure them that you will do your utmost to assist them.
- If necessary, suggest briefly putting the call on hold in order to gather information or seek assistance.
6. Providing Information and Resolving Issues
- Offer reliable information. If you are unsure about something it is better to admit it and offer to find out than providing details.
- Propose solutions or alternatives if you are unable to fulfill a specific request.
7. Taking Notes
- Make a note of points during the call particularly if any actions need to be taken.
- If you are utilising a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, ensure that all call details are accurately logged.
8. Concluding the Call
- Summarize the takeaways from the conversation and any agreed upon actions.
- Inquire if there is anything that you can assist with.
- Express gratitude, for their time.
9. Ending the Call
- Wait for the caller to hang up first or politely ask if it’s okay to end the call, such, as saying, “May I conclude our conversation now?”
- Always finish the call on a note like saying “Have a day!”. Thank you for reaching out to [Company Name].”
10. Actions after the Call
- Follow through with any tasks or commitments made during the call.
- Update records or databases with any information.
- Reflect on the conversation. Consider if there are areas where you could have improved.
- Stay Patient; Each caller is unique; some may require time or explanations.
- Continual Learning: Regularly engage in training sessions or workshops to enhance your communication skills.
- Seek Feedback; request feedback, from co-workers or supervisors to enhance your performance.
By following these guidelines, you will be better prepared to handle calls efficiently. Remember, our aim is to leave callers feeling heard, respected and valued.
David Alssema is a Body Language Expert and Motivational Speaker. As a performer in the personal development industry in Australia he has introduced and created new ways to inspire, motivate and develop individuals.
David Alssema started his training career with companies such as Telstra and Optus Communications, and then developed Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) within workplace training as principal of Paramount Training & Development.
As an author/media consultant on body language and professional development David has influenced workplaces across Australia. He contributes to Media such as The West Australian, ABC Radio, Australian Magazines and other Australia Media Sources.