Telephone Customer Service: Challenges & Tips

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  • 0:03 Telephone Customer Service
  • 0:55 Challenges
  • 2:30 Tips for Handling Challenges
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jerri Glover
Telephone customer service creates an interesting environment for customer service professionals. In this lesson, we'll discuss the challenges associated with providing telephone customer support and tips for providing superb service.

Telephone Customer Service

Beth called to get a merchandise return number to exchange a pair of jeans she ordered. Jim was the customer service representative she talked to and he answered the call with his scripted greeting. As Beth began to explain her reason for calling, Jim interrupted to ask for her customer number. Jim then began to quickly read through his support script. He was mumbling, difficult to understand and kept interrupting Beth. Beth sharply asked Jim to stop interrupting her, but Jim fired back that he was just following company procedures. Beth demanded to speak to Jim's supervisor to report his rude behavior.

There was a lot that went wrong with this customer service call. There are a number of challenges that customer service professionals face when providing support via telephone. We will focus on four of them. Later, we'll look at some tips to help you provide excellent telephone customer support.


Recognizing the challenges that may come up during telephone customer service is important to being able to understand how to avoid them. Let's look at four of the main challenges you may face:

  • Visual cues: When providing customer service via telephone you do not have any visual cues, meaning you cannot see the customer's face and body language. You have to depend on the person's voice inflections and tone. This can be difficult. You may encounter some customers whose voice appears gruff or stern. But if you were able to see them, they would have a smile on their face and appear relaxed.

  • Wait times: If you are providing customer service in an environment where customers enter an automated queue or are placed on hold until their call is answered, they can experience significant wait times. This can increase the customer's anxiety or agitation.

  • Script requirements: As a customer service professional, you may be provided with a script to follow when offering customer support. This can be helpful in keeping a call on track. However, sticking to the script can also make you appear wooden and unempathetic. Also, if you are so focused on following the script, you may fall into the trap of interrupting customers.

  • Noise interference: If you are providing customer service from a large call center, you may experience noise from other representatives on calls, foot traffic, and the clicking of keyboards. This can make it difficult for you to hear your customer and for them to hear you. If you experience this, let your company leadership know immediately. There are good noise canceling headphones and microphones that should help with this issue.

Tips for Handling Challenges

While the challenges you face can be troublesome, there are ways you can overcome them. Let's talk about some tips to help you provide excellent telephone customer support:

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