Telephone Skills for Customer Service

Take appropriate messages

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Whether or not you handle a large volume of calls, you will probably need to juggle various messages each day. This, too, requires just as much courtesy and tact as your actual telephone conversations.

You can learn to handle messages appropriately if you:

  • Avoid giving the wrong impression
  • Manage telephone messages
  • Offer a customer callback

Avoid Giving the Wrong Impression

Everything you say to a customer leaves an impression and influences the caller’s perception of you and your organization. When you make positive statements, the customer’s impression is positive. When you get careless and fail to think about what you are saying, sometimes the wrong impression may be left inadvertently.

When there are problems on your side, it is very unprofessional to involve the customer or to blame other people you work with for the mistake. When explaining a problem or a mistake to a customer, keep the details of what went wrong to a minimum. Do not get the customer involved in your problems.

Tool: View the Customer Perceptions Worksheet to help you not give callers the wrong impression about your organization.


Tool: Customer Perceptions Worksheet

Read the following statements. If you think the statement might result in a poor customer perception of your company, rewrite it. Here is a tip: Imagine you are a customer hearing the statement during a call.

“The shipping date on your order should be next Friday.”

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“I’m sorry I didn’t call you back. My senior had us in another meeting that lasted all morning.”
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“I hope this will solve your problem.”
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“I don’t understand why Customer Service didn’t help you.”
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“Mr. King is in a meeting. Why don’t you call back in an hour?”
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“I’m sorry that it took so long time. Please tell, Now what do you want?”
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“I’m really very sorry that you had to wait for so long. Our telephone network is a mess, and I didn’t know you were on hold.”
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Manage Telephone Messages

When you manage a high volume of incoming calls or are away from your desk, telephone messages often pile up. If there are many messages, priorities need to be established and to do so requires organization on your part, especially when there is limited time in which to return these calls.

One easy method of determining message priority is quickly comparing one message to another.

For example:

  • Is message #1 more or less important that #2?
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  • Next compare message #1 to message #3 and decide if it is more or less important.

By continuing the process, you will reach the correct decisions. Initially the process may take a few minutes, but with a little experience it can be done with just a quick glance at each message.


Offer a Customer Callback

When you are unable to handle a request at the time of the original telephone call, here are four call back steps to follow:

  1. Briefly explain the need for the callback
  2. Ask for permission to make a callback
  3. Make a commitment to call at an agreed-upon time
  4. Personalize your statements

Remember, customers expect a fast response. When you cannot provide one, you need to commit to an action plan, including the time you will call back. Be sure to offer a return call time that you can meet.

Do not compound your problem by committing to an unrealistic deadline.





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