We all know how frustrated and angry callers can be. We know how they can complain about us if they think we're failing to treat them correctly. So, when the chance arises to build rapport with callers, take advantage of it. Here are some tips and examples.
- Be sincere in what you say
How often do we use the expression, "How are you doing?" Of course, most of the time we really couldn't care less. Some alternate expressions might be better, because they reflect more what you're really thinking or feeling. For example, when taking a new call, ask the caller, "How can I help you?" It's true, right? You really do want to know how you can help the caller. If the caller is returning your call (per your earlier request to do so), tell the caller, "Thanks for returning my call."
- Compliment the caller for doing something right
In a column I wrote, "Your customer could be smarter than you think," http://www.techrepublic.com/article/5100-10881_11-6162309.html I discuss how customers can become upset if they think we think they’re asking stupid questions. On the contrary, if we give them credit for doing something RIGHT, it could give them a better impression of us. I was at a university once, listening to a help desk call, and heard the following statement to the caller:
Analyst: “Professor X, as I understand it, you copied the file instead of moving it?”
Professor X: “Yes, that’s right.”
Analyst: “Good, that was the right thing to do.”
Don't overdo it, though, or it will sound condescending. Ironically, saying such a statement with too much happiness can send such a message. A technique I use, therefore, is to sound as matter-of-fact as possible.
Forewarn the caller about issues he/she may encounter elsewhere
At another university, I heard a help desk analyst talk to a caller about a problem regarding a password. That problem turned out to be related to the software program Banner, which was supported by a different organization. Here’s what the analyst said: “When you call the Banner help desk, make sure you talk about nothing else except passwords. Otherwise, they’ll switch you right back to me, and that’s not what either of us wants.” I'm betting the caller appreciated hearing this advice.
These techniques can help build rapport with callers, and keep them from getting frustrated.
Calvin Sun is an attorney who writes about technology and legal issues for TechRepublic.