The short answer, is very definitely not. The telephone is still holding its own when it comes to how a customer wants to tell you that they’re unhappy. It still sits above emails, messaging and social media, as being the favoured communication channel for customers, even despite technology having leapt on since it was first invented, or since we both entered the financial services industry.
One simple reason for this is the immediacy of picking up the phone and talking to someone straightaway. While emails and messaging are effective in their own ways, the phone seems to be the favourite as there’s no mistaking when someone is naffed off or upset.
We’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of emotion, so we know what it’s like when someone is screaming or swearing at you. It’s why we see people trying to avoid the phones at times, but we’d urge you not to do this. Read on for why.
You could be thinking that this is just nostalgia and that in today’s world where technology is moving at a pace we’ve never seen before, it’s redundant. But, how many text messages have you seen convey empathy and does an emoji really do it justice? How many emails have you read and come away believing one thing, only to be corrected by the sender?
That’s why for us, being focused on the people in the process means the phone takes some beating. The number of misunderstandings that can be resolved or avoided, or the fact that you’ve been able to turn a situation round from one of entrenchment to meeting in the middle can’t be underestimated.
You could be thinking that the connection you make with that customer, doesn’t really matter, it’s about the resolution. We’ll have to agree to disagree, because we think rapport helps you get to a resolution with the customer, rather than at a cost to the customer.
That’s why that connection over the phone is critical, because it helps to build a genuine rapport with people, even if that person is someone that’s presently unhappy with your business. Building that connection with someone can be hard to do when something has gone wrong, especially when it’s by email or social media, but it’s far from impossible.
We know from experience that even when people had been waiting over 12 months for an outcome on their complaint, we were still able to successfully mediate resolutions, just by picking up the phone.
It means using the phone enables you to build more rapport because you’ve taken the time to speak to that person, rather than whizz off an impersonal email.
Did you know that what you say makes up only 7% of what you’re saying? 55% is body language and the remaining 38% is tone. And all three of these are critical when on the phone, even though you can’t be seen.
Don’t believe us? If you speak over the phone with a smile on your face that comes across in your voice and your engagement. Try speaking over the phone with a frown when you’re trying to be upbeat…the other person will be able to detect it, even if they can’t tell you why.
It also works with dealing with angry customers. If you’re feeling that the customer is trying to shout you into submission, stand up, and even pace it out. It puts you back on an even footing with things and you can put all the emotional energy into walking rather than escalating a challenging call.
In our workshop we cover the key skills to being able to work effectively with customers on the telephone: