Basic Etiquette of Telephone Customer Service

telephone customer service

When I jumped right in to apply for a job online, the first thing that came into my mind was to look for a non-voice job.

Because I don’t want to take calls anymore. I felt graduated from this job. 

And for the term non-voice, it’s a job that entails not taking calls. Or so that’s what I thought. Then, I started working with clients online. But I was wrong. 

My false beliefs shattered into pieces. 

Should I be choosy working with clients online and stick to my plan? I got the non-voice job I wanted. It happened that part of my job is to take a few calls a day.

To work as a virtual assistant, it wouldn’t guarantee you won’t take calls. There’s a possibility. Always. 

And open yourself to this possibility. I know it’s not a big deal to some. But others complain.

Clients are looking for people who are good at oral communication, not only in writing. They will test your communication skills during the interview.

I’m writing to non-call center people.

Yes, I’m not writing for call center agents. But this may be a good recap if you are.

I’ve worked as a customer service representative for over five years. After that, I went online and work full-time, and there’s no going back. 

It’s not easy to take calls if you do it all day. I tried it. Though I’m not sure about you. But that was my experience.

Are you planning to apply online and don’t want to take calls? 

Don’t close your mind for this kind of job. 

This will give you more chances of winning clients online and apply for as many jobs as you can. VA jobs have more openings than other specific freelance jobs.

Hence, a few calls a day won’t hurt your mouth. Right? 

You’re lucky if you get a client that taking calls is not part of your job daily. I had one part-time client before.

But again, if you look for a job online, you should be prepared to do a voice job doing customer service.

Today, I’ll share with you the basics of inbound customer service.

Basic etiquette of telephone customer service

1. Answer the call within three rings.

Pick up the phone right away, and don’t wait for more rings. The rule: within three rings, pick up the call.

If you don’t, it will send a negative sign you’re not doing your job right. That you’re doing something else. Out of focus. Distracted. 

It’s a risk if you have a habit of answering calls late. You don’t know that the one’s calling might be an important business partner of your client or an important customer. 

It creates a wrong impression. The caller might report you. Or you might get caught if your client audits your calls randomly.

Be careful on this one. Especially when you’re a new hire. Have a focus and build a habit of answering calls quickly.

2. Immediately introduce yourself and the company.

There’s a proper way of introducing yourself and the company. 

For example, “Thank you for calling ABS. My name is Marleo. How may I help you?” Let the caller knows they are calling the right company and thank them. 

If you do not tell the name of the company right there and then, the other person might be wondering if they got the right number. 

This is pretty basic. Inform the caller they reached the correct line.

Some clients share some script or a call flow. This is good. But with two clients of mine, I don’t have any. 

The good thing is, my experience as a call center agent helps me to prepare for the job.

3. Speak clearly.

Always speak clearly so the other person on the line can understand you. It will reduce both of your time on the phone by repeating each other.

This was my weak part as I tend to mumble. I was coached a lot before about this poor habit of mine. 

Gladly, I overcame this weak spot in communication. By being fully aware of myself with the way I communicate. 

Speaking clearly provides a pleasant experience with people you talk over the phone.

Be conscious of this one.

4. Listen actively and take notes.

Take down notes

You must listen carefully when someone speaks on the phone. 

By taking down notes and capture the primary purpose of the call. It helps you to get the main issue right away.

Now, it is easy to paraphrase the issue. As a result, it creates a beautiful experience for people you are talking on the phone.

Furthermore, you also need to type fast on your keyboard to catch up with customers who talk fast and avoid asking them again.  

Listen carefully and don’t forget to take notes all the time.

5. Use proper language.

Use simple words and avoid jargon on the phone.

Keep the pace, use the same language of the customer, and choose the right words to say.

Make someone on the phone understands your better.

Use appropriate language.

6. Have a cheerful demeanor.

Make sure you carry yourself with a cheerful attitude every time you speak to someone on the phone. 

The other person on the line can sense a weak, lethargic voice. In the same way with an energetic one. 

Exudes a happy demeanor all the time. Of the people that you speak on the phone.

7. Ask permission before putting someone on hold.

If there’s a need to place a call on hold, always ask permission. 

It’s a rule. 

It’s not good to place someone on hold on the phone without the other person aware of it. A lot of people considered it unethical.

Get the caller’s approval if it is okay. This shows you’re polite and respectful and considerate.

Most of the time, callers understand why you need to place the call on hold at a particular time frame. 

Of course, to find some answers to their issues and better assist them. 

8. Be mindful of your voice volume.

Raising your voice volume creates an incredible negative atmosphere during the call. It triggers tension. 

The likelihood of being misunderstood is high. For example, you may deem mad or disappointed with a high voice volume or high pitch. 

I experienced it. 

Be careful on this one. If the other person can’t hear you well, raise the mic or your phone volume. 

Get technical first on the solution if a caller can’t hear you, instead of raising your voice. 

9. Check and respond to voicemails.

That’s the first or last thing I do every day at work. I listen to voicemails and respond to essential messages that require immediate attention. 

What are voicemails? 

These are recorded short messages of someone who called; because the time he called, no one was around to answer the call. 

So they left a message.

10. Be honest if you don’t know the answer

Exactly, be honest. 

Don’t pretend and go around the bush to explain things, and yet you’re not sure of what you’re talking about. 

Set expectations that you don’t know the answer (yet), and you need some time to find the solutions online or to ask your client for an answer.

Follow the old cliche all the time in customer service: that honesty is the best policy.

Final Thoughts

What I share with you today are the basics of customer service. 

You may learn some advanced telephone techniques when you are on the job. If the voice customer service is part of your daily task with a client.

Taking calls (inbound) can be dull and boring and sometimes challenging.

But I believe you can overcome it. And it will become a non-issue when you’re paid well.

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Marleo Enobio

Marleo is a work-at-home father. He blogs about his journey towards learning how to code and some online opportunities and tech news. When he's not working or doing anything online, he spends time with his family and serve a Christian community. He lives in General Santos City, Philippines.

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