Phone Etiquette Customer Service

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					       Telephone Etiquette

         Customer Service Begins Here


   Our view of excellence as stated in Southern at 150: Building Excellence
   through Commitment is multi-faceted. One facet of excellence, perhaps the most
   important aspect is communication and the universal tool for communication is the
   telephone. In today’s work world the phone dominates as a tool for selling, buying,
   researching, providing services and making lasting impressions. It can also be a
   source of great frustration, puzzlement and agitation.

   The difference between a positive and negative experience with a phone call is
   you. The human factor in all communications makes the difference. Customers
   need to feel taken care of, well informed and motivated. When you answer the
   phone, it’s that 'human moment' when customers can actually experience what it
   would be like working with you and your people. It's the opportunity to create
   relationships for the future of your department, college or the university.

   We thank you for your efforts on behalf of the students, your department, your
   college and the University. Without you it wouldn’t get done.


                                   Table of Contents

   Clear Your Mind                                     4

   Prepare Your Phone Voice                            5

   Prepare to Offer Your Standard                      5

   Be Prepared Before You Respond                      6

   The Phone Call and the Customer                     6

   Treat the Caller with Respect                       7

   Problem Callers                                     8

   Alternative Dialogue                                9

   Screening Calls                                     10

   Placing Callers on Hold                             11

   Transferring Calls                                  11

   Taking Messages                                     12

   Voice Mail                                          12

   What’s In It for Me                                 13


   A phone is ringing somewhere in your office. By the third ring the call should be
   answered. BUT… before you pick up that phone:

         1.   Clear your mind of all but the task at hand – responding to the caller.
         2.   Prepare your phone voice
         3.   Answer by the 3rd ring
         4.   Offer your standardized greeting.
         5.   Be prepared before you respond.
         6.   Treat the caller with respect; be efficient, effective, empathetic and

       Clear Your Mind of all but the Task at Hand – Responding to the
   There’s nothing worse than trying to carry on a conversation with someone who
   is reading their emails, looking at documents or distracted with something other
   than your conversation. You can always tell; there’s an extended pause in the
   conversation while you wait for a response but, they have none because they
   were looking through a magazine while chatting on the phone. It’s frustrating, it’s
   rude, it makes you feel unimportant and they are likely to miss important
   information for lack of focus.

   Being present requires FOCUS. Your center of interest should be on the caller
   and their conversation. Allowing distractions can result in important information
   being overlooked or worse, the caller identifies you as a poor provider of
   customer service and tells others.

            Turn away from your computer and desk when you answer the phone
            Put down your reading material.
            Focus your attention on the caller
            Take the gum out of your mouth
            No drinking or eating during the conversation

         Take an informal survey of the people you see talking on the phone. How
         many are focusing their attention on the caller? Pay attention when you are
         talking to someone on the phone, do you think they are giving you 100% of
         their attention? What reaction do you have to their phone etiquette?


                           Prepare Your Phone Voice
   How you handle yourself on the phone reflects not only on you, but also your
   department and SIUC. You see it over and over. Someone talking on the phone
   forms an opinion of the person with whom they are talking based on the tone of
   their voice, their language skills, etc. It may not be fair, but it happens.
   According to John Robertson of EZINE @rticles, within 60 seconds people will
   make assumptions about your education, background, ability and personality
   based on your voice alone. What reputation do you want to build? What
   impression do you want to make?

   Do you sound like this on the phone?

   Pay attention to:
      • What you want to say.
      • How you want to say it.

   Your voice is very important to your career                                and
   your personal life. When you are talking 87% of the listener’s opinion of you is
   based on how you say it according to Robertson. That means that only 13%
   remains to make a positive impression about what we are saying. Project a tone
   that conveys enthusiasm, confidence, friendliness and attentiveness.

   Did you know, when you smile while you are talking it comes across in your
   voice? Let your personality shine through on the phone.
          Take a deep breath before you pick up the phone
          Smile before you speak
          Assume your speaking voice, controlling speed, tone and volume
          Speak clearly,
       Call someone and tell them you are conducting an experiment. Ask them to
      give their attention to your call and begin speaking with a grimace on your
      face and then change to a smile. Ask if they noticed a difference and have
      them explain what they heard.

                  Prepare to Offer Your Standard Greeting
   YO, Hey, Whazzzzup may be the normal greetings you would expect to hear in
   the academic setting if you are calling the dorms but they are not generally
   accepted telephone etiquette for University offices. Remember the 87% rule?
   Make a good first impression with an effective, efficient greeting. Identify your
   department, then, identify yourself. Name your department (Music Department),
   your name (Glenn Campbell); that’s it, 4 words! It’s crisp, clean and gives all the
   information the caller can handle at this point in the call. Adding phrases such as
   “good morning”, “how may I help you” are ok so long as you sound like you mean


   it. Elaborate, drawn out greetings are distracting and time consuming. You can
   lose your caller before the conversation begins.

                        1. Practice answering the phone using the suggested
                           format of department name, then your name.
                        2. Change your voice mail message to be more efficient
                           and effective.

                                Be Prepared Before You Respond

   Be prepared to answer the phone. It’s not an interruption, it’s your job. Have
   pencil and paper ready; prepare mentally to be present with the caller. Write
   down the caller’s name immediately. If the caller doesn’t identify him or herself –
   ask for a name… “May I say whose calling?” “Could I have your name please?”
   “With whom am I speaking?” All are polite, appropriate ways to get the caller’s
   name. Use their name frequently throughout the conversation.

   Use all of your listening skills, focus your attention on the caller, speak calmly
   and choose your words. Be careful to avoid jargon or acronyms not universally
          Listen not only to what the speaker is saying but to their unspoken
          thoughts as well. What is it this person isn’t saying that is important to the
          Be sure to get clarification. “If I understand you correctly…”, “So you are
          saying that…” “This is what I understand you are telling me…”

   The phone call and Customer Service
   Let’s pause here for a minute to talk about the effect your kindness, courtesy and
   relationship building has on your department and ultimately the University’s
   relationships with our customers. Ah! Customers! And just who are our
   customers? A short, informal Webster definition is “a person with whom one
   must deal”. A phone caller is certainly someone to be dealt with: thus, a

   There are many dealings occurring during the workday outside of your sphere of
   influence. However, how people react to you, perceive you and thus the
   organization you represent are all within your control. If you are a cheerful,
   responsive problem solver, people will react positively to you. You can
   confidently influence your effectiveness with a caller and ultimately the reputation
   of your department, with a strong customer service orientation.

   A famous restaurant trains their greeters to ask when you leave about your
   experience at their restaurant. They ask because they know if you had a bad
   experience you are likely to tell 7-9 people. Those people will tell others and


   quickly the customer base erodes because of one bad experience. Without
   customers, the business fails and employees are out of work.

   If you treat your caller with disrespect, disdain and curtness, you will unwittingly
   send a message to 7-9 people you never had direct contact with that employees
   at SIUC, and you in particular, have no sense of customer service. On the other
   hand, if you treat the caller with respect, focus on their situation and resolve their
   problem, 5 people will hear about the positive experience the caller had with
   SIUC and you. We build our reputation with the community we live in and serve,
   one phone call, one customer service experience at a time. Each one counts
   and each one reflects on you.
   Activity: Smile at people as you meet them. Pay attention, most will smile back;
   and those who didn’t, what was your reaction to them?

   Treat the Caller with Respect; Be Efficient, Effective,
   Empathetic and Responsive

   5 Forbidden Phrases
      1. “I Don’t Know”
      2. “I/We Can’t Do That”
      3. “You Have To”
      4. “Just a Second”
      5. “No”
   Be positive, a problem solver, honest and helpful.

   Instead of:                    Try:
   “I Don’t know”                 “That’s a good question, let me find out for you”
                                  Callers don’t want to be passed from person to
                                  person. If it is absolutely necessary, transfer the
                                  caller to the appropriate department but do not
                                  leave the line until they have been connected to an
                                  individual to whom you can explain who is calling
                                  and why you are transferring them. Never, transfer
                                  a call and hang-up before the transfer is complete.
                                  If the call requires research, assure the person you
                                  will call back and give them a specific time to
                                  expect your call. There is no excuse for not
                                  returning calls. If you haven’t found out the info by
                                  the established deadline, call and say so. Make
                                  yourself a cheat sheet on your department and
                                  other departments. Talk to people outside your
                                  immediate office and use the information to provide
                                  good customer service.
   “I/we can’t do that”           “Here’s what we can do.” Everyone expects that
                                  something can be done about any situation. By


                                  offering hope, you will be seen as a problem solver.
                                  “Here’s how we can help” or “Here’s what needs to
                                  be done” or “I need to” When someone is calling
                                  you for help, avoid putting the responsibility back
                                  on them by using the “you” word. Give options
                                  using the words “we” or “I”.
   “Just a second”                Give an honest answer about how long it will take
                                  you to complete whatever you are doing AND tell
                                  them what you are doing. Use the hold button.
   “No”                           Try to find a way to state the situation positively.
                                  The customer is not always right but s/he is
                                  always the customer. They hate to hear no, as
                                  they expect their situation will be resolved to their
                                  advantage. If you can’t do what they are asking,
                                  be sure to tell them what you can do.
   Problem Callers
                        Problem callers don’t usually start out that way. Something
                        happens to make them go ballistic. Customers have an
                        expectation of how they ought to be treated and if you fail to
                        meet that expectation, they become agitated.

                         When you get a caller on the phone who is getting agitated:
   Listen. Allow them to vent. Stay calm and be sincere. Remember the 87% rule
   – if you aren’t sincere the caller will know immediately. Don’t jump in, even if you
   have heard the same thing 10 times. The caller will be offended. A sincere voice
   will have a calming effect on the caller. If you become upset or defensive you will
   make a bad situation worse.

           Don’t over-react to trigger words. Callers will often try to push your
           Listen completely to the complaint, allow the caller to vent. Only when
           they are finished should you comment.
           If the call is long-distance you might offer to call them back to avoid phone
           charges. This can have an immediate positive impact.
   Empathize. Acknowledge their feelings. “I can hear that you are upset by this”
   or “I can tell this situation is upsetting you”.

          To help with this process, keep family pictures in your work area. Pretend
          you are talking to someone you know and like while you are working with
          your caller.
          Force yourself to focus on solving the problem rather than internalizing the
          caller’s attacks.
          Don’t blame anyone for the problem, no matter who is at fault. It’s counter
          productive to resolving the issue.


   Apologize. It doesn’t matter who’s at fault. Anyone who has been
   inconvenienced wants an apology. You don’t have to agree with the caller, but
   should express regret that there is a problem. Empathize with the person’s
   feelings and apologize, sincerely… “I’m really sorry this happened”. This makes
   the caller feel that you have aligned with them. It’s hard to be upset with
   someone who is sympathetic and trying to help.

          Use the person’s name a lot and apologize frequently.

   Solve the problem. Suggest agreeable solutions. Ask how you can help and if
   it’s reasonable, do it; if not, find a compromise. Make sure something is done.
   Take it upon yourself to ensure the customer gets some satisfaction.

           Handling difficult customers isn’t easy. Remembering the Golden Rule,
          “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and putting it into
          action with difficult customers, will help increase your job satisfaction.
          Paraphrase the problem and repeat it to the caller – get clarification before
          offering solutions.
          Work with your managers to streamline office/departmental procedures so
          people who answer the phone are empowered to solve the customer’s
          Picture how good it feels to solve a problem and send someone away
          satisfied. It makes your whole day better.
                                Alternative Dialogue
                 Instead of                                         Say
   “Hold on”                                      “Will you hold while I…” (and wait for
                                                  the answer)
   “Who is this?”                                 “May I have your name please?” or
                                                  “Who is calling, please?” or “May I ask
                                                  who’s calling?”
   “Thank you for calling the office of the       “College of We Are the World, Global
   Director of Education, Finance and             Warming.”
   Everything Else, in the College of We
   Are the World. My name is Global
   Warming, how may I help you.”
   “We can’t do that.”                            “I believe we can offer (alternative)
                                                  ...will that work for you?”
   “I can take a message.”                        “I’ll be happy to take a message and be
                                                  sure it gets to (the correct person) right
   “So and So is responsible for that.”           “I’m sorry you’re having this problem,
                                                  what can I do to help?”
   “Like I told you before…”                      “I’m really sorry you’re having this


                                                problem. Let’s find a way to resolve this

   “No one here would have promised you “If I understand you correctly, you were
   anything like that.”                 promised…”
                                        “Let’s figure out how we can resolve
   “If you would just listen.”          “I understand you are upset, I
                                        apologize for the trouble you’re having
                                        with this.”
   Sentences starting with you          Sentences starting with I

   CONGRATULATIONS!! You’ve successfully handled a difficult situation.
   Take care of yourself. If it was a particularly difficult call, take a quick break, walk
   down the hall, or have a drink of water. Talk over the situation with a colleague
   or your manager. Find some humor in the situation if you can. Pat yourself on
   the back. Remind yourself how good you are at your job and how committed you
   are to good customer service.

   Screening Calls
   Screening calls is often an unpleasant part of the job. But it is sometimes
   necessary because the person for whom you are screening does not always
   have time to talk or want to talk to the caller. Key to handling these situations is
   considering the “availability” of the called party. In order to keep a caller from
   being irate over not finding the person they are calling available to them, try
   sequencing the questions to avoid a conflict.

   Sample Conversation:
                                Receptionist: “Bookkeeping, James Stewart”
                                Caller: “Is Ms. Stell available”
                                Receptionist: “I’m sorry, Ms. Stell is unavailable at this
                                time, may I take your name and number and have her
                                return your call? Or may I help you?” (Note: you have
                                given the caller the expectation a phone call will be
                                returned but also offered immediate assistance if
   Caller: “This is Sam Davis, would you please tell her I called, she has my
   Receptionist: “Mr. Davis, she has asked me to interrupt if you should call, so
   please hold while I tell her you are on the line.” (Had Mr. Davis not been
   someone who should be passed through you have left no room for doubt about
   the availability of Ms. Stell.)



   Review the following conversation.
   Receptionist: Bookkeeping, James Stewart
   Caller: I need to speak with Ms. Stell, right away.
   Receptionist: May I get your name and number please?
   Caller: This is Sam Davis and I need to speak with Ms. Stell
   Receptionist: Let me check to see if she is in, will you hold please?
   Caller: Yes, thank you I’ll hold.
   Receptionist: I’m sorry, Ms Stell is not available, Let me take your number and
   have her return the call.
   Caller: NO, I’ll hold until she can take my call.
   Why do you think Mr. Bellefonte thinks Ms. Stell is in the office?

          Have a list of callers for whom you should always interrupt

                                Placing Callers on Hold
                                    The other line is ringing, and you are anxious to
                                    answer…requiring you to put your current caller on
                                    Hold – it’s a necessary evil. We all hate being on
                                    Hold. So when it’s necessary to place a caller on
                                    Hold, check with them first to determine if they
                                    can/want to Hold. WAIT for an answer. Remember
   back when we talked about “being present” with your caller? If you are present
   with your caller it is only polite to let them decide if they will Hold, go to voice
   mail, or call back. Handle your current caller before you rush off to another…first
   come, first serve.

   Once you have placed a caller on Hold, check back every 15-30 seconds to
   update them. Thank them for holding and be as specific as you can about how
   much longer you expect to keep them on Hold. Each time allow them the
   opportunity to decide if they would like to continue Holding.

   Next time you are on hold – track how many seconds you are on hold and how
   many times someone checks back with you. Would you consider them customer
   service oriented?

   Transferring Calls
   When the caller needs to be transferred, be polite and ask if they would like to be
   transferred. Ask the caller for their number in case you lose them during the
   transfer. Give the caller the name of the person to whom you are transferring
   them along with their number in case the call does not go through or in case they
   would like to call later. If at all possible, stay on the line until the transfer is


   If you have a frustrated caller who has been transferred several times already,
   do not transfer them again. Take ownership of their situation. Call the
   appropriate party; ensure they have a solution to the situation, only then should
   you transfer the caller. If you don’t know how to fix the situation, take the caller’s
   name and number, find the appropriate person and have them return the call.
   Check back to make sure the caller’s situation has been resolved. The caller will
   always remember your kindness and will tell others about your terrific customer
   service skills.

            Treat the caller as you would want to be treated
            Look at those pictures in your work area; help the caller as if they were
            Make it your goal to call them back within 4 hours if you have to do
            research to help them with their situation

   Taking Messages
   When taking a message for someone else, be sure you get the following
   information recorded:
       1. The caller’s name and company/department
       2. The correct spelling of the caller’s name, date
          and time of the call
       3. Complete telephone number
       4. Brief explanation for call.

   Be sure to verify this information with the caller to make
   sure you have taken the message correctly and give him/her the opportunity to
   check what they told you.

            If someone is covering the phones for you, pick up your messages when
            you return. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

   Voice Mail
   Voice mail can be a very effective tool for communication if it is used correctly. In
   general people don’t mind getting transferred to voice mail if it gives them helpful
   information. Your voice mail message should be short and to the point. When
   forced to leave a message, callers prefer to get right to it, not listen to a long-
   winded voice mail greeting. Don’t state the obvious, (I’m away from my desk or
   on the other line). State your department, your name and leave clear instruction
   as to what information you need from the caller such as:
          Name and phone number,
          Best time for you to return the call
          Brief summary of the reason for calling



         Sample voice mail: “Housekeeping; Mary Maid. I will be out of the office
         until Tuesday. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message as
         to the nature of your call. I will respond when I return.”
         Sample voice mail: “Housekeeping; Mary Maid. I will be out of the office
         until Tuesday. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message as
         to the nature of your call. I will respond when I return. If you need
         immediate assistance please contact Jeeves Butler at x5555.
         Sample voice mail if you change your voice mail daily: “School of
         Agriculture; Pepper Greenjeans. Today is (date). At the tone, please
         leave your name, a brief message regarding your call, along with your
         phone number and the best time to call you back.” choose Administration; on this next
         screen under Administration choose Voice Mail; on the next screen
         choose Desktop Messaging Quick Reference Guide for learning how to
         use our university voicemail system.

    If you are going to be away from the office, say so and leave your date of return
   so people will know when they might expect a response. If you are going to be
   out for an extended period, you should consider offering information on another
   source for helping the caller. In this case, you would state your department
   name, your name and information about who the caller can contact for

   If you plan to refer your calls to another member of your department, be sure to
   make arrangements with them ahead of time. Leave them a cheat sheet on how
   to handle special procedures.

                           WIIFM(What’s In It For Me)
   Customer Focus Inc. offers the following:
   “Customers and other employees like to work with people who have a zest for
   life. NO matter what your knowledge or abilities, your enthusiasm and attitude
   have the greatest effect on people…and on you!

   Focus on being enthusiastic
         At the start of each day, set a goal to be enthusiastic.
         Be aware of your energy level during the day, use it wisely.
         Pull yourself up when you are feeling down.


   Choose and use energy words or a pick-me-up song
        Select your own energy word or phrase such as zest, energy, get going,
        YES or
        Select a favorite energy song such as “Old Time Rock n Roll” or “Mony
        Play your song or say your words to help energize you in your down time.

   Accept the challenge
         Know that it is a challenge to meet or exceed customer expectations.
         Use your enthusiasm.
         Take pride and satisfaction in creating a positive experience for someone

   Tap into energy sources
          Let other enthusiastic people zap you with energy.
          Be aware that your energy is contagious.

   Disconnect from energy drains
         Avoid negative people – they can drain you.
         Walk away from discussions that are negative or cynical.

   Measure your accomplishments
        Track your performance and seek feedback.
        Set short term goals and beat them.
        Set long term goals and track your progress.

   Take initiative
         Empower yourself by making your own decisions.
         Go the extra mile at home and work.
         Reward yourself for your accomplishments.


Description: Phone Etiquette Customer Service document sample