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Practicing good customer service on the phone

Graphics | May 1, 2008 | By:

Better customer service starts with a smile; even when it’s a telephone call, it makes good sense to use a friendly tone of voice. Listen to good speakers on the radio and note the warm, inviting tone of voice. You want to replicate this relaxed, easy-going style in all of your telephone calls.

Also, give your caller your full attention. This means not doodling, eating, or drinking coffee while on the phone. Listen carefully andgive positive feedback; let your caller know you understand what they are saying.

Another suggestion is to learn from the best. Invite your stock broker out to lunch, for example, and pick up some useful ideas. Experienced brokers are experts at making productive cold calls and picking up subtle oral clues over the phone.

Steve Browne, President of Raving Service, a consulting firm in Reno, Nev. explains customer service as “the work we perform for those who buy goods and services from us and how we treat them while performing that work.” So it is two things, the work AND how we treat others while performing that work.

He also suggests that it is easiest to just hire people who are friendly and have a desire to serve and please others.

”That is half the battle right there. Moreover, the simplest thing is to insist that everyone in your employ smiles and greets every customer they engage, pass by, or encounter during their work day. Initiating an encounter with a friendly smile and eye contact, or verbal greeting will win you a lot of fans,” Browne says.

Browne suggests two ways that managers can emphasize the importance of excellent customer service for all employees.

“First they have to live the message by setting their own standards and following them, and they should not be a secret to everyone else.”

Second, they must hold their employees to those same standards, he says, by encouraging them to follow the standards every day.

“This can be done with short pre-shift meetings, one-on-one coaching sessions, department or group meetings, bulletins andother collateral, internal newsletters, instant recognition and awards, and only when absolutely necessary use punitive action or discipline,” says Browne.

However you practice and teach good customer service, positive reinforcement is always best, he says.

Roy Katz, M.B.A. is a business journalist based in Las Vegas, NV.

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