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Telephone Communication Skills for Call Center Agents

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

There are four main parts to any call center interaction: greeting, information gathering, resolution, and closing. This lesson reviews tips to proceed through calls successfully while concentrating on first call resolution.

Phases of Call Center Engagement

You are at home. The phone rings. Who is it? It could be a friend; maybe her baby is here. It could be the police; maybe your son is in trouble. It is impossible to know what tone the call will take before you answer. While working in a company call center, you know that every incoming call is from a customer (or potential customer) who has business with your company. You are that person's first impression of the company, so setting the right tone is imperative.

A typical call center engagement, or active interaction with a client, has four main parts: greeting, information gathering, resolution and conclusion. This lesson reviews appropriate methods to journey through a call center engagement with first call resolution (FCR), or resolving customer requests in one call.

Call Center Engagement Parts

There is work to be done before a call begins. Make sure you are familiar with the company's products and most frequent call topics. The more knowledgeable you are, the more capable of achieving FCR you will be.

Greeting

Your greeting, arguably one of the most important aspects of the call, sets the tone for your entire interaction and the customer's first impression of the company. Answer with a smile; literally, smile when you answer and begin speaking. When you smile as you speak, your tone automatically comes through as jovial and light. This will set a calm and happy vibe for the conversation.

As concisely as possible, without speaking so quickly that the customer cannot understand you, identify yourself and the company, thank the caller for calling, and ask for their name. Your greeting might be: Hello, my name is Tanya, and you have reached the Customers R Us helpline. Thank you for calling. May I have your name please?

Exchange names to avoid this impersonal call center scenario.
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Exchanging names helps the customer see you as a person and not just a faceless voice. Make sure you use the customer's name when addressing him or her throughout the call. The last act in the greeting is to offer help.

Gather Information

The key to gathering information is active listening. This is a style of listening in which you carefully listen to the speaker, summarizing from time to time in order to allow the speaker to clarify his or her thoughts. When a customer feels heard, like the company is really listening and caring about their problem, it helps to calm their anxiety and may even help them uncover a resolution in the process.

When the customer has finished speaking and you are sure that you have understood everything they have said, follow up with exploratory questions that have not yet been answered. Ask the customer what he or she has already done to resolve the situation. Find out if this is a recurring issue. Ask what was going on just before the problem occurred. Try to guide the customer to give you as much information as possible to help resolve the issue.

Resolution

A great way to start a resolution is to thank the customer for calling and to offer an apology for any difficulty they are having. After learning all you can about the problem, it is time to start trying to find a resolution. If you have familiarized yourself with the company and the most common customer issues, you may already have an easy solution to offer the customer. Offer solutions and, if feasible, stay on the line while he or she tries the solutions.

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