Top ten tips to be an exceptional telephonist

It’s National Telephonists’ Day, the annual celebration recognising the role of the telephonist, and we think they’re a team of people who deserve a lot of recognition!

Whether it’s in a busy call centre, a small telephony team, or a one person call answering service, the impact of the service they provide should never be underestimated.

We may be using more channels of communication than ever before but people still like to deal with a real person at the end of a phone and there’s a real skill in making every caller feel special. Here’s our top ten tips to being an exceptional telephonist:

1. Stay focused – prevent yourself from being distracted by colleagues or external noises and concentrate on what your caller is saying.

2. Pen and paper at the ready – have a pen and paper to hand and get into the habit of making short quick references to any questions you want to ask or points you need to raise or comment on. When your caller has finished speaking refer back to your notes and take action. If you’re thinking of answers and responses while the caller is speaking, you are not really listening.

3. Listen to your caller – listen to the emotion in your caller’s voice. Does it match or endorse the words they are using? You listen more effectively when you’re not talking, so refrain from interrupting. Let them finish what they are saying as interruptions may break their train of thought.

4. Clarity – ask questions to gain more information on points you need to clarify.

5. Pronunciation and enunciation – ask yourself – am I being as clear as I possibly can be? If the person on the phone does not understand maybe your communication technique needs adjusting.

6. Don’t pre-empt – avoid pre-empting what your caller is going to say. Chances are you’ll be wrong and miss some of the content of their conversation if you do so.

7. Recap key facts – summarise and reflect back to check you have heard the key facts and content of the caller’s conversation correctly. It also lets the caller know you have understood them. Statements such as “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…” are great ways to reflect back and summarise.

8. Your pitch and tone – think about how you sound to the caller. Is your pitch and tone correct? Do you sound interested and friendly?

9. Watch the stereotypes – avoid stereotyping individuals by making assumptions about how you expect them to act and what you expect them to say. This will bias your listening.

10. Be aware of the barriers to listening:

  • We think we’re right and the other person is wrong
  • We feel we have to provide help right away
  • We prefer to talk rather than listen
  • We are waiting for gaps or pauses to jump in with our response

Let’s celebrate the skills of our telephony teams.  If you’re passionate about delivering exceptional customer service, it’s a great profession to get into.

Stephen Ritchie is a Learning and Development Advisor for Mitie Client Services

Mitie Client Services has over 100 telephonists’ across the UK, answering 13,000 calls a day for more than 150 buildings. If you want to find out more about what we do, or how to join our business, visit us here and follow us on Twitter.

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