Learn strategies and techniques for how to handle customers when no is the only answer, i.e., a product or service is NOT supported.
- Let's continue our look at building rapport over the phone. Using positive words is another key component of building rapport. Often, technicians give too much information or use words that we call geek speak in an attempt to build rapport with the customer. While there's a positive intent, most customers just won't understand. Use of positive and inclusive words like we, us, let's, yes, I can, and I'm happy to help, creates a positive action-oriented tone that moves the conversation forward.
Avoid using geek speak like acronyms or abbreviations as well. They may confuse the customer. Here's an example. Well, let me check the ACL logs to see if the policy blacklisted the user. Huh, is the response the customer's really thinking but may not say out loud. Geek speak comes very naturally to many of us so just be aware of it as we are talking to our customers and save it for the chatrooms. Our next component, empathy, is something we hear a lot about in delivering quality customer service and in building rapport.
The challenge with empathy is that it needs to be genuine and sincere, not scripted. How many times have you heard, I'm sorry, sir, and it sounds like a robot or someone reading from a script that just tells them to say I'm sorry. I once worked with a service desk that required their technicians to say I'm sorry at the beginning of every call or they lost 10 points on their quality scorecard. Talk about not being sincere or genuine.
Empathy can be described as the ability to understand another's feelings or emotions. That's what customers really want, is for someone to understand how they feel or to understand the current situation. Demonstrating empathy has many benefits in customer service. Empathy can diffuse a negative situation, calm an upset customer, and demonstrate that we are listening and understand a situation. All of this leads to building rapport with a customer.
Let's look at some examples of empathy statements that you can add to your toolkit. I apologize for your frustration. I understand how this would be upsetting. I would be upset too if this happened to me. Let's see what I can do to take care of this. These empathy statements help to convey respect, care, and understanding. Keywords that help create effective empathy statements include understand, apologize, can, let's, all positive words that display empathy but also move the contact forward as well.
- I can understand how this frustrating. I apologize for this experience. - Thanks. No, it's not your fault. - It sounds like this is very upsetting. Let's work together to resolve this. - Again, the goal of expressing empathy is to show the customer that you've heard what they're saying and understand how they are feeling. By expressing empathy, you are not saying to the customer that you agree or that you are going to fix their emotions, you simply understand and have heard their issues, their concerns, problems, emotions, and feelings.
Often, customers just want to vent and want to know that someone has heard them loud and clear. Lastly, tied to empathy is understanding the customer perspective, which is another key to building this relationship. Often it can be hard to look at an issue from the customer's perspective because we are knee deep in the trenches with technology and processes. Often, customers haven't been trained properly on the technology they are using or a push, upgrade, process didn't work properly.
A product isn't working right, a system is genuinely slow, or maybe they are even using outdated equipment or software. These are just a few examples of what can make a customer frustrated. If we can take a breath and just listen to the customer's perspective, we can make great strides in relationship building. Let's take a minute and document in our action plan what key component of building rapport over the phone you would like to work on. We know that tone, words, and body language are three core elements of communication and since we can only work with two out of the three, words and tone, over the phone they become crucial for our success.
First, Fancy provides guidance on how to use the right types of questions to gather information about an issue. Then, she explains how to professionally handle common customer service tasks, like escalating and transferring calls. Then, she shows how to hone interactions with customers by refining communications—acknowledging how tone and word choice can diffuse tension. She wraps up by covering common customer behavior scenarios in which the tools, techniques, and strategies from the course can be applied.
- Greeting and validating contacts
- Asking investigative and diagnostic questions
- Confirming and validating responses
- Reaching resolution and closure
- Using mute or hold on a call
- Escalating or transferring a call
- Building rapport over the phone, in writing, and face-to-face
- Refining word choice, style, and tone
- Managing conflict effectively
- Recovering unsatisfied customers
- Redirecting customers
- Identifying customer behavior