How to Improve Customer Service Over the Phone in 5 Steps

The phone call is an integral part of the customer service process. A strong ability to communicate with customers over the phone can make all the difference in winning a customer for life, while a not-so-good rapport can do irreparable damage to your business. That’s why it’s important to continuously optimize your staff to help them learn how to better communicate with customers over the phone.

Ideas to Help Improve Customer Service

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small business or a multi-million dollar company, there’s always room to improve customer service over the phone. Here are five ways to do just that.

1. Role playing

How can you make sure your employees know what to say during a customer call if they’ve never even practiced? It may feel a bit silly at first, but role playing is one of the best ways to make improvements to your customer service process.

So, how do you make your roleplaying sessions successful? First, think back to actual interactions you’ve had with customers over the phone. Make sure to play out a variety of scenarios (both good and bad) to arm your staff with the knowledge necessary to handle incoming calls.

Acting out the customer call experience is a great tactic to better prepare employees for the real deal. It helps instill confidence, hone problem solving abilities and gives you a better idea of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses — all of which you can use to fine-tune their abilities to improve customer service over the phone.

Role playing should be a primary focus of any customer service phone training program to demonstrate how employees should handle certain situations, like an angry customer or a customer with countless questions about your product. Preparing your employees, versus leaving them without any sort of customer service tips or direction, is a giant step forward and can help improve your conversion rate and company reputation by leaps and bounds.

2. Call recording

Recording phone calls between your staff and customers provides a multitude of benefits to both you and your customers.

For starters, recording customer service calls and listening back afterwards gives you valuable insight into how your employees interact with your customers. Gathering this data allows you to measure how well (or poorly) your staff handles incoming calls to better optimize your customer service phone training sessions. You can even use call recordings as material for your roleplaying training sessions — after all, there’s no better example of a customer call than one that’s actually happened.

Call recordings also allow you to recognize which employees are delivering the best customer service to callers … and which ones could use some work. This is especially valuable for training new hires who may just be getting their feet wet in your industry, but it’s always good to keep tabs on all employees to ensure they continue driving results to your business.

In addition, customers may feel more valuable knowing that you listen back to calls for quality assurance purposes. It shows that you care and want to give your customers the best experience possible, which can be achieved through coaching your employees to better cater to their needs.

*Pro-tip: Before adding call recording to your business model, make sure you find out if call recording is legal in your state.

2. Mandatory Meeting Attendance and Product Knowledge Test

It’s always slightly cringeworthy when a customer asks an employee a question, only to discover the employee doesn’t know the answer. Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening with the right customer service training and tools, including mandatory meetings and product tests.

Great customer service employees are knowledgeable about your product or service. They should be able to field any questions from customers with ease, and that ability only comes from making product development and other company meetings mandatory. Shaping your employees’ knowledge about your product or service helps improve the customer experience and build respect among both your customers and your industry.

Another way to teach employees about your product or service? Have them try it out themselves. Whether you’re selling a revolutionary hand cream or an easy-to-use software program, having your employees actually test your product themselves is an easy way to build knowledge, establish trust and develop loyal brand ambassadors for your business. What better way to build a fanbase than by starting with your staff?

4. Communication classes

Communication skills aren’t something that come naturally for many people. That’s why it’s important to hone your employees’ communication and customer service skills as much as possible to ensure they properly handle incoming calls.

Aside from role playing and employee training, offering your customer service reps the opportunity to participate in communication classes can help make them feel more comfortable and confident when interacting with customers. They’ll learn proper customer service phone etiquette — including how to appropriately talk to callers, actively listen to their needs needs, speak more clearly, and resolve problems — to provide a better consumer experience.

In addition, communication classes also teach the psychology of communication to really dig into the customer’s mindset and how your words can impact their actions. By understanding the true mechanics of communications, your employees can do their jobs more effectively.

It’s also worth noting that hiring customer service employees who are easy to understand is crucial to your business. After all, if a customer can’t understand what the operator is saying, how can they expect to receive quality service?

Therefore, it’s worth it to invest in communication classes, especially for employees who may have thicker accents that make them harder to understand over the phone. This way, your employees will learn how to enunciate more clearly in order to better serve customers.

5. Customer satisfaction

Your customers are the cornerstone of your business — without them, you have nothing. Keeping your customers’ happiness top of mind is essential to succeed as a business. It’s absolutely crucial to drive this point home for your employees.

Some customer service tips you should emphasize:

  • Never end the call until the customer is 100% satisfied. Even when you think the call is over, you should always ask your customer if there is anything else you can do for them.
  • Always use positive language or say things in a positive manner. Negativity will get you nowhere — or worse, drive away potential business.
  • Actually listen to your customer! Pay attention to their inquiry or complaint. Active listening enables you to better empathize with and assist your customer.

To encourage your customer reps to go the extra mile, try holding contests or offering other incentives for boosting customer satisfaction. Whether it’s money, gift cards or an extra vacation day, incentivizing your employees to improve customer satisfaction is a win-win for both customers and your staff.

But how do you measure customer satisfaction? By determining identifiable goals, including but not limited to preventing customers from canceling with you, upselling customers, and having customers complete surveys. Track your employees’ progress and reward those who go above and beyond to improve customer experience.

Learning how to improve customer service and properly engage customers over the phone is vital for any customer service team. Taking advantage of these five tips will help prime your employees for success and ensure your customers receive the quality service they deserve.

For more customer service tips, take a look at some of our favorite ways to improve communication with your customers.