GREAT Phone Calls

How to have great customer conversations on the telephone

Despite the many ways of contacting companies digitally, telephone support is still the go-to choice for many customers. With easy service, fast resolution and direct contact with a human being a priority for many, it’s no surprise that 62% of customers still prefer to call an organisation. However, without non-verbal cues, it’s easy to misunderstand and be misunderstood on the telephone which can make or break the customer’s experience.

Here are three strategies to help you to have a great customer conversation on the telephone:

  1. Be aware of your Vocal Dashboard

Your vocal dashboard consists of:

  • Pitch – The pitch you adopt dramatically changes the emotion you imply. Being aware of the customer’s pitch helps us to understand what they are feeling. Adopting the correct pitch gives the customer the right messages.
  • Pace – This is the speed at which we speak. Some people naturally speak faster or slower than others but speed of speech can also imply an emotional state. An excited or happy mood is more often reflected in a quicker pace of speech. A more serious, dejected or bored mood is usually reflected in a slower pace.
  • Power – This is the emphasis placed on certain words, by lowering or raising the voice. Emphasising a particular word can change the meaning of a sentence dramatically.
  • Pause – This is when you halt your speech; sometimes pauses are used to show anger or frustration. For example, “I..honestly..cannot…believe this has happened!”
  • Inflection –Our voice naturally changes pitch as we speak and as we express various differences in our thoughts and feelings. Usually an upward slide or inflection at the end of sentence expresses a question or an uncompleted thought, and a downward inflection expresses a completed thought or an instruction.
  • Tone – Our tone expresses emotion. It could be warm or cold, harsh or gentle, tense or relaxed, connected or dismissive, bored or present. We quickly identify someone’s mood by their tone.
  1. Avoid silences and build connection

Sometimes there are silences during a customer telephone conversation. On the telephone though, periods of silence feel much longer and also the customer cannot see why you have gone quiet. Some ideas to help you are:

  • Build rapport – chat about something not related to the call
  • Signpost a pause – Explain that there’s about to be a short period of silence and be honest about how long it will take.
  • Give the customer something to think about: “Perhaps you might take a moment to think about what else you might need today?”
  • Provide a commentary about what you’re doing to keep the customer informed
  • Check, then go and check – If you don’t know the answer to something, avoid by checking the customer is happy to wait while you go and check, then go and check!
  • Acknowledge the pause – If the customer goes silent or doesn’t know how to respond – acknowledge it: “I realise that might come as a surprise…do you need some time to think about it?”
  1. Position positively

There are typically points in customer telephone calls where it is difficult to maintain rapport and connection with the customer. Examples are when you have to read out compliance statements or terms and condition, wait times if you have to transfer a customer, or system issues. Positively position the low points by:

    1. Explaining what is about to happen
    2. Explaining why
    3. Explaining how long it will take


Take a look at our GREAT phone calls programme and if you’d like to explore this topic or any other aspect of customer service training then please do give us a call on 01582 463464. We’re always here to help.

Categories: Customer service

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