Telephone training tips for new staff

When you welcome a new employee to your office they may not necessarily know how to operate your telephone system; so you would naturally run through the fundamentals, showing them how to transfer a call, how to put someone on hold and how to operate their voice mail and so on.

You may not, however, give thought to how the new member of your team will communicate with your customers on the phone.  You might assume that they will deal with callers just the way you do, but that can be a dangerous assumption and somewhat unfair on the employee.

By providing a short training session on the first day, all these issues can be put to bed.

Here are a few tips to help you get it right from day one.

1. Explain that telephone customer service skills are an important part of the job and in order to offer customers an exceptional service you have the following guidelines to help.

2. How you would like the telephone answered? There are a number of different ways to greet your customers.  You might like to say your company name so that the caller knows they have come through to the right place.  You may prefer that the operator gives his/her name so the caller knows exactly who they are speaking to.  Be careful of giving too much information, this may result in the operator speaking too quickly and the caller will immediately be overwhelmed.

3. Advise that each caller should be treated courteously using a polite and friendly manner. Remember your tone on the phone.

4. Delays in answering a call should be avoided; one would normally expect to be answered within three rings.

5. Putting the caller on hold. Bearing in mind that being left on hold is a major bug bear for most people, let your staff know that on hold time should be kept to a minimum.  If you cannot connect the caller with the right person then the alternative would be to take a message and offer to call them back.

6. Message taking should obtain the following information. Time, date, name, number and message. Always record who the message is for. It is perfectly acceptable to ask how to spell a name and to take time in getting the details correct. Repeat details back to the customer to confirm that you have understood.

7. Avoid negative statements, such as “I’ve no idea” or “I don’t know” take responsibility and say “let me check that for you” or “I will find out”.

8. Provide some examples of unacceptable telephone techniques, ie mouth noises (eating), rudeness, not paying attention, cutting the caller off, placing a hand over the receiver instead of using on hold feature, being miserable or angry.

9. Make sure every staff member is capable of dealing with a complaint. It is good to have a procedure to follow; this will keep your team confident and able to maintain a good level of customer service.

10. Reassure new staff that you don’t expect them to get it right on the first day, it will take time but convey you have every confidence that they will pick things up really quickly.