In a phone based role, you don’t have visual clues to give away to the caller, so you may think you’re able to get away with a bit more. Be careful because your attitude can mess it up for you if you have a bad one.
Let’s consider a train with carriages. If the engine of the train represents your attitude, the first carriage could represent your thoughts, the next carriage your words and the third carriage your actions. Think about it: the carriages go the same direction as the engine, so if your attitude (engine) is sluggish, arrogant, ignorant or plain negative, then so will your thoughts, words and actions be. Conversely, if your attitude (engine) is positive, then of course, the carriages of thought, word and action will follow.
So the first point is to get the attitude right. It’s the one thing you have full control over. Even if things are going badly, you can still choose how you react and deal with it. You can help create a positive attitude by:
- Avoiding negative media
- Create a positive vocabulary of words
- Look for the best in each situation
- Ignore the whiners around you.
Be Present and Focus
Next, be present and focus on the caller. Stop anything else you are doing and concentrate on the person on the phone. You may feel like you can multi-task but it will show that you are not fully concentrating on the person you are speaking with. If a call has come through and you absolutely must finish something off, you could answer the call and ask them if they would be okay to hold on for a moment while you write down a note so you can give them your full attention. This should be done with their permission and not as a given.
It’s important that the person you are speaking with feels that you are pleased to be speaking with them. Do not sigh or sound disinterested when you pick up the phone. This is one of the worst experiences a customer can have. Think about all the experiences you have had as a customer. If someone sighs as they pick up the phone, they instantly are telling you that you are not welcome.
One way to greatly aid a positive experience is to smile as you are speaking. This comes through in the voice and naturally helps your attitude. Smiling naturally sounds better and also helps to put you in a good mood.
When you engage in conversation use positive words and phrases. Help the customer to feel like you have a ‘Can do’ attitude and offer a ‘Positive Affirmation’. This is something you say that helps them know they have come through to the right place. You can say something like:
- Yes, I can help you with that.
- I know just the person who can sort that out for you.
- You’ve come through to the right place.
- Let’s see how I can help you get that sorted now.
Using positive words throughout the call will help the person feel like they are dealing with an organisation that takes responsibility and gets things done.
Again, think about what you expect as a customer. Do you want someone that is positive and helpful or someone that treats you as a nuisance or as though they can’t be bothered?
Finally, as part of the initial conversation, listen to the customer. Show them that you are focusing by asking clarifying questions or by paraphrasing. Don’t try to take over too soon. Let them share the reason for calling.
Check out this one-minute video on “Positive First Impressions”:
VIDEO: Positive First Impressions