5 tell-tale signs you need to invest in telephone skills training

Colourfull 5As a learning professional, you may already be monitoring the quality of your organisation’s telephone skills training.

But you also know that just one poor experience can quickly destroy a hard-earned customer relationship.

By listening to calls, you can pick up on some warning signs, before problems appear in quality control reports or customer complaints.

1. The tone of voice is not welcoming

Our tone reveals more about our attitude than the words we use. Do some call handlers sound bored or impatient rather than welcoming and helpful?

Have them compare recordings of themselves and their colleagues to hear how they come across – especially at the end of the day!

2. Call handlers use jargon and buzzwords

Jargon is a useful shorthand among specialists, but can be baffling to non-specialist customers. Some organisations have a list of words like these to avoid – a kind of reverse glossary.

Also listen out for business buzzwords like “ongoing“, “viable” and “interface“.

3. They use negative expressions

Do you keep hearing phrases like “I’m afraid that…“, “I can’t…“, “We don’t…” or “The problem is…“?

Positive phrases make customers more receptive, even when it’s bad news. Have call handlers listen to a call recording and identify any negative phrases. Then ask them to replace these with more positive phrases, like “What I can do is…“, “I’ll be pleased to…” or “I understand you“.

4. They help ‘The System’, not the caller

Does the call handler try to force the caller into your organisation’s procedures rather than meeting their needs? Phrases like “You must…” or “It is our policy to…” are orders rather than polite requests, and suggest that your processes are more important than your client.

In your telephone skills training programme, help call handlers to identify and explain the benefits of following necessary processes. For example “That information helps us do the credit checking more quickly, so we can open your account sooner” or “We ask for your telephone number so we can get in touch with you quickly if there is a problem.

5. Call quality is inconsistent

Do you have specialist staff who sometimes talk to customers, but haven’t had telephone skills training?

Don’t forget to include these calls in your monitoring, so you can address problems quickly with remedial training or coaching.

We are giving away a pack of eight call quality checklists, which you can use to review telephone calls or role plays. You can download these free training materials from the PhoneCoach home page.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

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