Challenges in Communicating With Customers Over the Phone

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  • 0:03 Communication via Telephone
  • 0:38 Challenges of…
  • 3:34 Overcoming Phone Challenges
  • 4:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tara Schofield

Tara has a PhD in Marketing & Management

Improving the satisfaction of customers and increasing the effectiveness of telephone calls are goals of most companies. Discover some of the challenges that come from telephone communication.

Communication via Telephone

Telephone calls are one of the most common ways a business communicates with its customers, especially if the customer has a problem or question. Rather than going into a company or sending an email and waiting for a response, a customer can speak with someone immediately by calling the business.

Based on the frequency and length of calls, a company may have an entire department to handle telephone calls and the issues related to those calls. If you are part of a call center department, you can use the tips we'll cover in this lesson to understand the challenges of talking to your customers on the phone.

Challenges of Telephone Communication

While there are many benefits of telephone communication, there are many challenges that can cause frustration or delays:

Lack of Body Language

For instance, when you speak with a customer in person and see the person's facial and body expressions, you can more clearly understand the message he or she is sending. On the phone, however, you can only hear the vocal inflections, tones, and verbal cues.

Imagine you are calling to ask about your cable bill. You are frustrated but want to get the problem resolved. As you talk to the customer service agent, he appears to be indifferent and uninterested in your problem. He speaks slowly, quietly, and has no emotion in his voice. He may be very quiet by nature and very concerned about your problem. Because you cannot see him in person, however, you are left to make assumptions based on his voice. The assumed lack of interest on his part leaves you even more frustrated and disappointed. Consider this frustration as customers call to get help from you.

No Eye Contact

Additionally, when you speak to people in person, looking them in the eye, you can show you care and understand what they are talking about. On the other hand, on the phone you are left to respond only to a voice. The personal connection and understanding that comes from eye contact is missing.

As with the previous example, when you call the cable company, the service rep sounds like he doesn't care or understand your problem. Because you can't look at his eyes, you don't get the reassuring look that he knows what you need and how to help you. This may cause you to have less confidence in his ability to solve your problem. Customers will have the same problem when they call you for help with their account.

Long Wait Times

There's nothing worse than calling for help and getting an automated recording that the wait time is 47 minutes. Customers want help when they call and don't want to wait on hold for an excessive amount of time. Likewise, after talking to a service person, the customer does not want to wait for 10 or 15 minutes for a problem to be handled.

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