For most of us, there’s not much science to it; we pick up the phone, we start talking. Even if you have a naturally soothing voice that reassures and delights everyone who hears it, you can still benefit from the techniques and suggestions below, for not only the tone that you use, but also for your choice of words—and even your timing.
Even & Calm
If you can manage to keep your voice calm, clear, and even at all times, this is at the core of achieving a professional tone and attitude. It’s what people expect from someone who is representing a business. Additionally, keeping an even tone of voice is one of your best weapons for handling a customer who is upset.
Polite & Patient, yet Confident
It’s basically the Holy Grail for a customer support representative: The ability to be always polite to the customer, no matter how mean or insulting they are. If it gets that bad, though, no one should have to take verbally abusive treatment. See the following post about dealing with customers who cross the line:
Think of Them as Your Boss
Speaking to the customer on the phone as if they were your boss is an exercise that can help you verbally show them respect and a willingness to help. It will automatically lend you a tone of someone who is there to serve and be useful.
Choice of Words
No Slang & Casual Language
Speaking to a customer as if they are a close friend rarely works well and can be off-putting to them. Be friendly, but not too friendly. It comes off as a kind of invasion of personal space; they want you to provide them with support and solutions, not necessarily to make a new friend.
Use Your Words
Try to speak as if you were writing an office memo. Use correct grammar, speak in complete sentences, and be as brief and concise as possible. This will take more practice for some people than it will for others.
Avoid Inflammatory Language
You should be careful not to use inflammatory words that are inappropriate for a professional conversation, like “stupid”, or “hate”, and definitely no curse words—not even the Christian ones like “hell” or “damn”. This kind of language can quickly escalate a conversation with an irritable or frustrated customer, and it has a way of taking away your credibility, as well.
A Proper Introduction
If you are placing the call, you should immediately greet the customer and identify yourself and your company. It’s a good idea to do this first, rather than launching right away into the details of why you are calling.
Skip the “How Are You Today”
Many professionals would disagree with this assertion (and they could be right), but you might want to just bypass this inherently disingenuous old chestnut, which the other person will then have to reciprocate. Honestly, it seems like a waste of everyone’s time.
Be a good listener, and try to retain everything they’re saying so they don’t have to repeat themselves. Listening to your customer is literally more than half the battle; most people fall short in this capacity.
After you ask a question, wait for the person to finish answering you before you respond. Don’t interrupt them or cut them off unless it’s absolutely necessary. Talking over your customer not only has the potential to anger them, but it’s also a time-waster. Patience is paramount in any professional conversation.