Tips for handling customer inquiries over the phone

Don’t leave ‘em hanging

So, you’ve assembled a crack team of excellent customer service representatives for handling customer inquiries over the phone. But you can’t just hand them a phone and a script and leave it at that. There are a number of things you must do to train your team and familiarize them with the business before they can start picking up those ringing lines.

Before we begin, here are a few statistics from Hubspot that show why excellent customer service is so important for the health of your business:

  • Companies that prioritize the customer experience generate 60 percent higher profits than their competitors.
  • 73 percent of consumers love a brand because of friendly customer service.
  • 78 percent of customers say that competent customer service reps are most responsible for a happy customer experience.
  • 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated.
  • 68 percent of customers leave because they were upset with the treatment they received whilst speaking to a customer service rep.

So, how exactly do you and your team go about handling customer inquiries over the phone?

Editor’s note: Need a dedicated phone line for your business? Check out GoDaddy’s SmartLine app to add a second phone number on your current smartphone in about five minutes.

Handling customer inquiries over the phone

When customers call in with questions, they’ll already have a number of expectations for how their inquiry should be handled. One is that they’ll be treated courteously, and the other is that they’ll be speaking with a knowledgeable customer service representative who can answer their question or resolve their issue.

Have a script

Handling Customer Inquiries Script

It is a good idea to have a basic script for handling customer inquiries. A good script will effectively express courtesy and will efficiently get to the heart of the issue. Here are some tips to help you start building your script:

  • Greet the caller courteously.
  • Say the name of the organization.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Find out why the customer is calling.
  • Listen to the customer and take notes if necessary.
  • Repeat the information to the customer to show them that you’ve understood the question, and apologize if there is an issue.
  • Thank the customer for calling.

Be knowledgeable

While it’s a good idea to put as much useful information on your website as possible, no business can anticipate every question that a customer might have. That’s what you have your customer service representatives for.

They’re there to provide the information that you can’t possibly list online.

To accomplish this, make sure that your customer service representatives understand all aspects of your business/service/product so they can field customer inquiries with efficiency and confidence.

Related: Start-to-finish eStore customer service tips

Resolving a customer issue over the phone

If you have a knowledgeable team of customer service representatives, then handling customer inquiries over the phone should be a piece of cake. However, as a business owner, you more than anyone else knows that running a business and keeping customers happy isn’t always so simple.

Customers won’t always call in with an easy question. Sometimes they need an issue resolved, and this is where well-trained customer service representatives really prove their value. Here are a few tips on handling customer issues over the phone:

Empathize

One of the most important and humanizing things you can do for your customers is to empathize with them. This is especially important if the customer is angry. If you acknowledge that there is an issue and validate their feelings of frustration by telling them you understand, this could go a long way in de-escalating the situation.

Be timely

Your customer service representatives might not always be able to resolve an issue in one call, and may have to call the customer back. That’s OK. The most important thing when doing a callback is timeliness. So, if you need to call a customer back, give them a specific time when you will do so.

The next part is crucial.

You MUST call them back when you say you will, even if the problem is not yet resolved. Just knowing that you’re working on the issue and that it hasn’t been forgotten can go a long way toward fostering customer satisfaction and even customer loyalty.

According to the Hubspot survey, 82 percent of consumers in the U.S. said they stopped doing business with a company due to a poor customer service experience. Of these, 55 percent said a company’s failure to resolve their problems in a timely manner drove them away. Moreover, 69 percent of customers said they were on hold for too long when seeking help from a company.

Don’t be that company.

Be familiar with customer history

If a customer calls in with an issue, you want to be able to pull up their history to better serve them. For this, you’ll need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. CRMs help you manage all customer relations, keep track of leads, record previous customer interactions, store all customer information and data, provide analytics, and more.

Handling Customer Inquiries Call

With this stored data, you can quickly see if the customer has had any issues in the past and how they were resolved. This is important because their current issue may be relevant to one they’ve had in the past. You’ll also want to know if their previous issue was resolved, and how it was done. This might help you resolve the current issue.

Beyond the practicalities of handling customer inquiries, a customer will most likely expect your representatives to be familiar with their history so they don’t have to explain it again. Plus, if your CRM tracks customer data, like buying habits, you might know what to offer them to appease them if necessary.

Business News Daily recommends the best CRM software based on different criteria. They recommend Zoho for small business, Hubspot for very small business, SugarCRM for startups, Less Annoying CRM for low cost, and Salesforce overall.

Related: How to use Outlook Customer Manager to better manage customer relationships 

Follow up

Once you’ve resolved the issue, don’t forget to let the customer know! Send an email or make a phone call letting your customer know that the issue has been resolved and asking them if there’s anything else you can do.

Even if the issue is resolved in one phone call, it doesn’t hurt to send a follow-up email asking how they’re doing, and if there’s anything else you can do for them.

Closing thoughts on handling customer inquiries

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that every customer inquiry and issue is a chance to learn and gather data. Keep in mind that 96 percent of customers don’t bother to complain to the business, and 91 percent never come back after they’ve left due to a bad customer service experience.

On the flip side, customers who have complained about a product or service and had that complaint successfully dealt with are 70 percent more likely to order from the vendor again, and 95 percent of those customers will give a supplier a second chance if they deal with the complaint in a timely and positive manner.

So don’t be afraid of handling customer inquiries or issues. If you’re aware of customer inquiries or issues and can resolve them in a timely, courteous manner, you’ll find that this is one of the best things you can do to keep your customers happy.

Image by: Alexander Andrews on Unsplash