C-LEVEL TRAINING Soft Skills & Empathy, 101

C-LEVEL TRAINING Soft Skills & Empathy, 101

Soft Skills & Empathy, 101 Specialty Answering Service The [INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE] Customer Service Philosophy At [COMPANY], it is our continued goal to ensure that the client feels as though they receive the best possible service during our interactions. That service begins with how you choose to approach each call. While you will not be able to please everyone all the time, there are many things entirely within your control that can make or break a phone call. Your approach to customer service can make or break a phone call. 2 2018 Specialty Answering Service

Basic Terminology Empathy: Put simply, empathy is feeling and understanding someones issue as if it were your issue, as opposed to looking at it as an outsider. Sympathy vs. Empathy: I feel sad for you, vs. I feel sad with you. CSRs need to be empathetic, without getting overly involved in a callers issue. Tone: This can be described as the way your voice sounds when you speak, including its pitch and quality. For example, as a CSR, your tone should be warm and friendly. Active Listening: When you are listening intently to another, you are picking up on not only their words, but on their body language and vocal cues, to gain a full understanding of their needs. For a CSR, you cannot see body language, but you can listen to inflection to assess how a caller may be feeling. Transitional Phrase: In conversation, a transition may take you from one thought to another, one subject to another, and one sentence to another, helping you avoid unnecessary pauses. Soft Skills: Communication skills, listening skills, and empathy, for example, are soft skills that are used to engage in polite conversation with another. 3 2018 Specialty Answering Service What makes a great operator?

Just the FACTS, please! An operators professionalism can be defined by five key factors, using the acronym FACTS. F: be Friendly and courteous A: use Active Listening skills C: stay Calm (even when the caller is not) T: use a pleasant Tone of Voice S: use a Smooth Transition to avoid dead air 4 2018 Specialty Answering Service F: be Friendly and courteous A popular home shopping channel uses a style of

presentation they call over the backyard fence. The idea is to keep the flow of conversation friendly and comfortable, just as if you were talking to your neighbor over the backyard fence. For most calls, this should be your approach. You dont want to lengthen the call by adlibbing with a bunch of pleasantries, but you do want to lead the call with courteous conduct. 5 2018 Specialty Answering Service A: use Active Listening skills In person, its easy to spot active listeners. Theyre the people nodding their heads in agreement, making eye contact, and really engaging in the conversation. The caller wont see you nodding your head, and you cant make eye contact through your headset. But when you are truly paying attention to what is being said, the caller will know it. They wont have to repeat themselves because youll reflect back what you heard. And if necessary, youll ask a question or two to clarify details. 6

2018 Specialty Answering Service C: stay Calm (even when the caller is not) When tensions are high, its a natural tendency to echo those tensions in our posture, speech, and actions. When youre fielding a call from someone who is obviously upset and taking it out on you, it may take all of your composure not to get upset right along with them. But its your job to stay calm and reassure the caller that you are here to help. That being said, it doesnt mean you should tolerate verbal abuse. If a caller is out of control, it may be appropriate to say something along the lines of, I can hear how frustrating this is for you, and I will make sure your concern gets to the right party. If you have utilized all the tools at your disposal and you are still unable to regain control of the call, then you may need to escalate it to a supervisor. 7 2018 Specialty Answering Service T: use a pleasant Tone of Voice A call center philosophical question: If a caller cant see a smile through

the phone, do they know youre smiling? The answer to our question is a resounding YES! You can absolutely hear a smile just as clearly as you can hear a frown. This also applies to those times when you arent sure how to do something, its taking you a little longer to document the callers request, you need to call over a supervisor, etc. The idiom, Fake it til you make it, comes to mind. Callers will be considerably more forgiving of any potential confusion on your part if you maintain a friendly, positive tone throughout the call. Sofrom your very first, Hello! all the way through to, Enjoy your day! dont let your tone drone on the phone. A pleasant voice is always the right choice! 8 2018 Specialty Answering Service S: use a Smooth Transition to avoid dead air No, this does not mean chit-chat like youre talking to an old friend. It means that when youre on a call, try to avoid those uncomfortable pauses while youre taking notes, accessing a website, or searching FAQs. Imagine how much better your calls would flow if awkward

silences were kept to a minimum! For example, as youre typing notes, you could say, Okay, let me make sure that I have this correct, and then you repeat back to the caller what youre typing as it is being entered. That sure beats the old, One moment please [insert insanely long pause here]. Phrases such as, Hang on a second for me, Let me see if I can find that out for you, and Im pulling that information up for you now, would all work. 9 2018 Specialty Answering Service PRO TIP: Use your experiences as a guide. Think about the last time you contacted the customer service department of your bank or favorite retailer, or when youve reached your doctors or dentists after-hours answering service. Ask yourself these questions. What stood out to you?

How did the operators come across? Were they kind or unfriendly? Did they listen, yell at you, or talk over you? Did you feel heard, or did they act as if you were just another call to be answered? 10 2018 Specialty Answering Service PRO TIP: Use your experiences as a guide, contd. A lot can be learned from your personal experiences. As a consumer and a human being, you have every right to expect a certain level of treatment from others. And thus, so does each caller.

The way you interact with each caller in your queue should meet or exceed your own expectations if the roles were reversed. 11 2018 Specialty Answering Service Sure, some days will be a challenge. In a perfect world, wed all wake up happy everyday, and there would be no such things as stress, illness, pain or depression. Outside of the call center environment, you may have days when you feel like tuning everyone out. But, the moment that you put on your headset and prepare for inbound or outbound calls, the outside world needs to remain outside. Yes, this is easier said than

done. We cant just flip a switch to turn off our feelings and experiences. But we can use them in reverse. What does that mean? 12 2018 Specialty Answering Service It means, put yourself in the callers shoes! You may not have had the same exact experience as a caller. When youre under the weather, how do you want people to treat you? However, you can still identify with the feeling behind the

experience, and respond accordingly. When youre angry, what would make you feel validated? When youre stressed, whose soothing tone calms you down? When youre happy, dont you wish your joy were contagious? This is empathy. 13 2018 Specialty Answering Service When calls go well, what is the end result? The end result for callers is simple. Theyll leave the call without a doubt that their request or issue is in good hands. At the end of every customer support call, consider asking

your clients this question: Are you happy with the assistance you received today? If were doing our job right, the answer should almost always be YES. As noted above, you wont be able to make everyone happy all the time. Your phone manner may be the very picture of professionalism and kind, courteous service, and someone may still hang up with a chip on their shoulder. But, as long as you can say that you did your best and followed the principles in this training, then youre doing your job. 14 2018 Specialty Answering Service What is the end result? contd. The end result for the client has many avenues. Their customers will feel valued and validated.

Theyll retain current customers and build new relationships. Theyll see increased revenue and increased referrals. If were taking accurate, thorough messages, theyll have less work to do. They will be confident in what [COMPANY] has to offer. 15 2018 Specialty Answering Service What is the end result? contd. The end result for [COMPANY] is also multi-faceted. Our clients will feel valued and validated. Well retain current customers and build new relationships.

Well see increased revenue and increased referrals. Well field more calls from happy clients than from disgruntled ones. 2018 Specialty Answering Service By building trust and consistently providing exceptional customer care at every level, [COMPANY] will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the call center industry. 16 What is the end result? contd. But what is the end result for YOU? Operators will: receive positive feedback inspire excellence

among coworkers set an example for future hires And most importantly, youll have: JOB SECURITY 17 2018 Specialty Answering Service The Importance of Staying On-Script Scripts are programmed a certain way for a reason, and they are reviewed for exact language and call flow. While it can be acceptable to adlib at times, just as you would in casual conversation or if you need clarification from the caller, following the script is a necessary part of your role as a customer service representative.

This ensures that calls are handled in a timely fashion, and that the client is not being charged for unnecessary minutes. Acceptable adlibbing would be things such as: apologizing, using a transitional phrase, offering empathy, etc. 18 2018 Specialty Answering Service The Importance of Staying OnScript, contd. When is it permissible to go off-script? When you use the FAQs to answer a callers question When the caller is angry / frustrated / upset, and they need reassurance When you do not understand the callers request and need to ask a follow-up question

When the caller is using extremely inappropriate or threatening language When empathy is warranted 19 2018 Specialty Answering Service The Importance of Staying OnScript, contd. If you need to go off script, here are some common expressions and phrases to use. Apologize Empathize Im so sorry to hear that. I apologize for the issues youve been having. That must be frustrating / upsetting.

It sounds like this has been really difficult for you. That seems like a challenging situation. Im sorry that happened, but I would like to help you get this resolved. 20 2018 Specialty Answering Service The Importance of Staying OnScript, contd. Common expressions and phrases, contd. Act Thank Im here to help. Thank you for your feedback.

Ill do my best to help you. Id be happy to look into that for you. Thank you so much for your patience. Lets get this taken care of for you. Thank you for letting us know about this issue. Id be happy to have someone reach out to you. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. Your concerns are important to us. 21 2018 Specialty Answering Service The Importance of Staying OnScript, contd.

Common expressions and phrases, contd. Resolve Ill make sure this gets to the right person. We will work on getting this resolved for you. Ill send this message along for you right away. Ill mark this as urgent so that it gets immediate attention. Dont Forget to Be Enthusiastic! Absolutely! Sure thing! Thats great!

No problem! My pleasure! Yes, of course! 22 2018 Specialty Answering Service Important Side Notes about Going Off-Script 1: Avoid the blame game. When it comes to apologizing and empathizing, be careful to avoid any phrases that may put the client in a bad light. For example, I would feel the same way. I cant believe they did that! If you agree with the caller that they were wronged, then youre essentially stating that the client is at fault. A better way to push through a challenging call is to say something along the lines of:

I am sorry for the issues youve been having, but Im here to help. What I can do is take down your information and make sure it gets to the right person. 23 2018 Specialty Answering Service Important Side Notes about Going Off-Script, contd. 2: Keep things moving. No problem. Let me get a message started for you. It will just take me a minute to type this up / pull this up. How is your day going so far? This will help to avoid lengthy calls and unhappy clients. If you dont mind, I just want to read this

back to you to make sure I have all the details. Try a few transitional phrases to keep the ball rolling. I definitely understand where youre coming from. Lets see what we can do about this. While Im notating this for you, is there anything else that youd like to include? Let me see if I can find that out for you. Can you hang on a second for me? Bear in mind that although it is important to demonstrate to the caller that they are not just another message ticket, you still need to stick to the script as much as possible. 2018 Specialty Answering Service 24 Important Side Notes about Going Off-Script, contd. 3: Beware of the never-ending story. In some cases, empathizing

may trigger the caller to tell you their life story, so to speak. Find the next available gap in conversation, and interject. Something like this should work: If it sounds like that is the case, quickly steer the call back to the questions without cutting the caller off. I am so sorry, [FirstName]. I know this is frustrating, but the sooner I can get a message over to the office, the sooner they can help you. 25 2018 Specialty Answering Service Important Side Notes about Going Off-Script, contd. 4: You are NOT a doctor, therapist, or expert. Remember that as an operator, answering calls is your area of expertise.

So, whatever the business, you must refrain from: giving advice, especially regarding medical calls offering your opinion providing any details that are not expressly noted for you to offer 2018 Specialty Answering Service Even if you happen to be an expert on the industry or subject matter, you are not the business owner. More importantly, when you take on the role as therapist, advice giver, medical staff, or any other expert, you are creating a legal liability issue for [COMPANY] and the client. 26

Soft Skills and In-Call Procedures Active Listening for Accurate Message Taking If you are actively listening to a caller, then you are focusing on not only their words, but on their tone. What is gained by really paying attention? What is gained by really paying attention? contd. The call will flow more easily and comfortably. Call time will not be extended as a result of poor call handling, and clients will not be charged for unnecessary minutes. Youll quickly determine which script path best suits the callers need. Their tone will help you understand their frame of mind and use empathy, when appropriate.

Our client will not receive incorrect contact information or message details. You will not have to ask questions multiple times. [COMPANY] will receive less complaints regarding incorrect messages and poor call handling. The caller will not have to repeat themselves, resulting in frustration. 2018 Specialty Answering Service 27 Soft Skills and In-Call Procedures, contd. Placing the Caller on Hold There will be times when youll need to put the caller on hold to look for information or

document call details. Always ask before you put the caller on hold, and do not leave them on hold for more than a few seconds. Every second on hold can feel like an eternity. Transferring the Caller Prior to transferring, always ask before you put the caller on hold. Let them know that itll just be a moment while you connect their call, see if someone is available, try to reach so-and-so, etc. If you are unable to reach the party, be sure to thank the caller for their patience before continuing. 28 2018 Specialty Answering Service Soft Skills and In-Call Procedures, contd. Fielding Questions Using the FAQs

If the FAQs are short, there is really no need to put the caller on hold to search for an answer. If they are lengthy, ask the caller if they wouldnt mind holding a moment while you look for the information they requested. This is better than long pauses in speech, ums, etc. Do not guess or offer information that is not specifically noted in the account. When you arent sure of what to say, make use of one of the 2018 Specialty Answering Service phrases on the right to continue the You know, Im not sure about that. Let me take down your information, and Ill look into it for you. I dont have that information in front of me, but Id be happy to have someone follow up with more details. Thats a great question. Let me send a message along for you so that we can get you the right information.

That question is a little advanced for me, but I can definitely take a message and get those details to you. Im not really the best person to answer that. How about I send over your information, and Ill have someone reach out to you? 29 Soft Skills and In-Call Procedures, contd. Accessing External Calendars or Websites When you are accessing an external site, let the caller know what you are doing. For example: Okay, hang on just a second while I pull up the calendar, and then we can get you scheduled. Always be sure to read all script instructions before completing any website action. This will lessen the amount

of time that the caller is waiting for assistance. 30 2018 Specialty Answering Service Soft Skills and Empathy Recap! Be Friendly and Courteous, and always maintain a professional demeanor. Actively Listen to everything the caller is saying and how they are saying it. Stay Calm, especially when the caller becomes frustrated or angry. If you maintain a calm approach, eventually, the callers frustration level will subside, and he or she will match your tone. Tone of Voice is hugely important! It reflects your willingness to assist each caller. And remember: the way you conduct yourself has a direct impact on [COMPANY], our clients, you, and your coworkers.

Smooth Transitions are short phrases that will help you when youre feeling stuck. A transitional phrase is always better than a long stretch of dead air. 31 2018 Specialty Answering Service THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING ALONG! Please let us know if you have any questions. 32 2018 Specialty Answering Service

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