Call Handling Techniques – Top 5 Tips

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Call handling techniques vary depending on the purpose of the call, be it outbound or inbound call handling, support, sales or emergency response, but below are our Top 5 Tips which apply across the board:

Call Handling Technique 1: Identify yourself.

People need to know who they’re speaking to. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people think it’s acceptable to answer an inbound call with just “Service Department” or worse “Hello?” The latter is often true of business mobile phones, but the same call handling techniques apply to answering your business mobile as your landline.

If you are handling an inbound call, make sure you greet the caller with your business name when you answer the phone. Knowing they have reached the correct business will avoid unnecessary confusion and instil confidence in the caller from the outset. This call handling technique also reinforces branding and provides a sense of unity, so even if staff are used to answering their direct dials or mobiles with just their name, using your business name first creates a better impression.

For outbound call handling it is just as important to identify yourself properly. You have an opportunity to give a good impression of your business, so train all staff to provide their name and business name when making outbound calls. This will again increase brand awareness, create an impression of professionalism and efficiency, avoid any confusion with the person answering and ensure that they do not have to prompt you for basic information to connect you to the person you wish to speak to. Compare the below transcripts, it’s obvious which caller gives the best impression:

CSnotepad Virtual Receptionist ServicesReceptionist: “Good Morning, ABC Media, how may I help?”

You: “Hi, is John available please?”

Receptionist: “Certainly. May I ask who is calling please?”

You: “Steve.”

Receptionist: “May I take your surname please Steve?”

You: “Smith.”

Receptionist: “Thank you. And may I take your business name?”

You: “XYZ Advertising.”

Receptionist: “Thank you. If you would like to hold the line I will put you through.”

Vs

Receptionist: “Good Morning, ABC Media, how may I help?”

You: “Hello, this is Steve Smith from XYZ Advertising, may I speak to John please?”

Receptionist: “Certainly. If you would like to hold the line I will put you through.”

Call Handling Technique 2: Speak clearly.

All too often we need to repeat the same information over the telephone and with our own familiarity comes laziness. We deteriorate into mumbling, jargon or rattling information off at top speed.

Inbound call handling staff should be trained to deliver information slowly and clearly, while taking time to spell any product names, websites or industry specific jargon. The phonetic alphabet is a very useful call handling tool; even if the person at the other end does not know it well enough to use it themselves, they can usually understand it if their information is repeated back to them using that technique.

When making an outbound call, using the above call handling transcript as a good example, make sure you identify yourself slowly and clearly. Allow the person you are calling enough time to digest and remember your name before launching into the purpose of your call.

Call Handling Technique 3: Listen to the other person.

This is a crucial call handling technique aimed at facilitating the swiftest resolution to the enquiry. At school it is drummed into us that we must answer the question asked. When we enter the world of employment, if we do not answer the question asked it leads to irate callers, repetition of work and wasted resources.

An inbound call handling operative who pays proper attention will make the caller feel valued, resolve the enquiry fully and in the most expedient manner, consequently representing your business in the best possible light.

An outbound call handling operative who focuses on this technique will gain valuable information, allowing him or her to work more efficiently and effectively towards the conclusion of the call. Particularly in areas such as technical support or telesales the person at the other end of the telephone line may mention a key detail in passing, but an effective call handling operator who understands the value of listening carefully will identify the point and use it to resolve the support query or close the sale.

Call Handling Technique 4: Make notes.

Chances are, if you execute call handling technique number 3 well, then you will automatically advance to this one.

Making notes during outbound and inbound call handling ensures you:

  • follow what the caller is saying
  • capture key details first time
  • make the caller feel valued by giving the impression you are focused
  • make them confident in your capabilities if you can easily recall everything they say
  • have a log after the conversation, if need be.

The best tip is, wherever possible, to provide staff access to a computer system integrated with your customer database to facilitate making of notes against a central record.

Call Handling Technique 5: Remain professional.

No matter how well you know someone, or how they behave towards you, where business call handling is concerned the best technique is to favour professionalism over familiarity and always remember that you are being paid to do a job.

If a customer makes a joke you may of course laugh politely, but remember that senses of humour vary greatly, and avoid making any comment yourself. Additionally, if a caller becomes irate, remain calm and keep your tone of voice even. As an inbound call handling operator on a complaints line you may find callers become abusive, so it is important to remember they are not annoyed with you personally, just the situation, and draw on your call handling techniques to conduct your job without taking their comments personally.

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