Communicate Effectively With Customers - Part 3
Communicating using simple plain English is vital to customer service as the customer service advisor will be dealing with clients from different parts of the world who speak different variations of the English language (different dialects) with different accents. The tone of voice should be looked at when talking to customers and also one needs to be careful and clear about the kind of information we pass on to colleagues for future services to the same customer. Discussions about the above can be found below in this hub
This is a level 2 unit with a credit value of 5.
This unit has been divided into three parts, for ease of navigation and to not overwhelm anyone with massive chunks of text. If you wish to have a look at Part 1 and Part 2 of this unit, please follow the links below.
2.9 Why is it important to use words that your customer will understand?
An important approach to clear speaking is to use words that customers will understand. It involves cutting down on too many technical terms and abbreviations that are industry / company specific. Using too many technical terms can be frustrating for the customer especially if they do not understand what you are talking about.
Company processes will definitely have technical terms, but you can use different 'simple to understand' terms to replace the technical terms or explain the terms to your customer to make understanding easy. Customers always wish to get responses in a language that they understand. Technical words have to be replaced by words that are used in general by the society on a daily basis. This will help with successful customer service, as customer service is all about understanding customer’s needs and communicating with them in simple and clear language so that they are not frustrated and so that they understand the process and discussions easily.
Again customer service is not a national or area specific thing. It can be International. Depending on the company or organisation and its services, one will have to liaise and communicate with clients all over the world. So speaking clearly in simple language is very important. In places where you cannot replace technical terms, it will be wise to give a list of technical words and what they mean to the customer, so they get to understand what you are trying to explain to them.
How to Deal with Difficult People, Danger Phrases, Power Phrases, and more
2.10 Describe how you communicate with customers who have language, dialect or accents that are different from your own.
Accent is pronouncing a word in different ways and it is to do with sound and tone. Dialect is about difference in vocabulary, a word can be used instead of another and it depends on the region or country where you live.
Customer service is a field where we get to meet and talk to people from all over the world. We get to meet and communicate with people from different cultures, traditions, ethnicity and they all speak in different accents. Some people pronounce differently, some people miss out on certain letters in a word etc. Even when it comes to English speaking people, people from different regions of the same country speak English with different accents. Patience and active listening are very important to understand the customers who have different dialects or accents. Also, some customers will find your own accent and dialect difficult to understand. So one needs to speak clearly, slowly and pronounce the words clearly for the other person to thoroughly understand you.
- Pause between certain words where necessary and between sentences.
- Use simple English and repeat words or sentences that the customer hasn’t understood.
- Ask for clarification if you haven’t understood what the customer has said.
- Make sure that you listen completely before giving a response and not interrupt.
- Where understanding is difficult with verbal communication, diagrams, graphs, samples can be used to explain what you are trying to communicate.
- Maintain a good attitude and have a friendly approach and make the customer feel that you are there to listen to them, understand them and help them.
- We might sometimes have to guess what the customer is trying to say and then question them to clarify if our guess was right.
- Also make sure to use proper gestures and facial expressions.
- Avoid any slangs.
- One needs to always keep this in mind, be it customer services or any walk of life, “Never assume, always ask”.
Pronunciation and accent
Have variations in pronunciations and accents ever bothered you while communicating with people?
What The Tone Of Your Voice Communicates
2.11 Explain why the way things are said, and the tone of voice, affect the way a customer experiences customer service.
When dealing with customers, one has to be careful about how they say things, and the tone they use to say things. You need to stay positive and confident in what you say and how you present yourself to the customer. These behaviours create an impression in the customer’s mind and will make them question if they need to use our services another time.
Customer service is not only about services to sell something; it also goes after the sale when customers come back for help and advice regarding the service. There are certain things or phrases that we should not tell a customer, which will have a negative impact on the organisation / company. Even negative responses have to be said in a polite and positive way.
For example, instead of “I don’t know”, try saying, “Let me find it for you” and research or find out from experienced colleagues and find ways to satisfy the customer’s needs or queries.
When a customer is frustrated and angry, wait for them to finish talking. Do not ask them to calm down, but instead you can calm them down by apologising to them even if it is not the company’s mistake and then tell them that the issue can be sorted and you are there to go through with them and get it sorted.
Instead of telling them it is not your department, you can tell them that you are happy to take them or put them through to the right department. Instead of telling the customer that it is not the organisation’s policy, you can tell them what the policy is, and this will stop the customer from getting angry.
Always try to express negative responses in a positive way. Never tell that the customer is wrong, instead tell them that there has been a misunderstanding. Always assure and reassure the customer that problems can be sorted and also get feedback from customers about their experience and if they would recommend us to friends and others and if not why. Thank them for being your customer and tell them how you value your customers.
The tone of voice is another important factor to consider in customer service. Whether you are talking to a customer face-to-face or over the phone, your tone will tell people whether you are sounding positive and confident. Customers will also decide whether you will be able to help them or not. You also need to be clear and smile. A smile can make a big difference even if it is over the phone. The tone in your voice expresses your knowledge and level of professionalism.
Tone of voice tells one’s feelings and attitude towards another. When it comes to customer service over the telephone, the customer does not get to see you, your gestures, your body language or your facial expressions and all these are felt through your tone of voice. So tone of voice is a very important aspect of customer service and it can be improved through practise. You can get feedback from your colleagues and manager and you can record your own voice to see how you sound and make improvements as necessary.
2.12 What kind of information do you pass on in messages to colleagues so that customers receive good service?
Customer service also includes maintaining customer details up to date on the system or database or on their files. This helps any of your colleagues to deal with the client so the client does not have to wait till you are available again. So when passing information give them as much information as possible. For example
- Client’s name
- Any ID they have on the system
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Services they have
- Queries made by client
- Advice provided
- Status of query
- Any references made
- Alternative contact details
- Next of kin details
- Emergency contact details
I hope that you found the information in this hub useful. This is purely for reference purpose only. If you have any questions or wish to share your experience, please do so in the comment section below.
All the best!