The Telephone Doctor - The key to keeping customers happyNancy Friedmantelephone etiquette, customer service
The mortgage business is different that's a fact. However, your
customers aren't so different. Over the years, Telephone Doctor has
culled a list of what frustrates customers. This particular list is
for owners, managers and staff members. You might want to post this
article in plain view so that all of your employees may benefit. Be
honest: Are you guilty of any of these Telephone Doctor no-nos?
1. Your employees are having a bad day, and their foul mood
carries over in conversations with customers. Everyone has bad
days, but customer service employees need to keep theirs to
2. Your employees hang up on angry customers. Ironclad rule:
Never hang up on a customer.
3. Your company doesn't return phone calls or voice mail
messages, despite listing your phone number on your Web site and/or
in ads and directories. Call customers back as soon as you can, or
have the calls returned on your behalf.
4. Your employees put callers on hold without asking them first,
as a courtesy. Ask customers politely if you can put them on hold;
very few will complain or say "No way!"
5. Your employees put callers on a speakerphone without asking
them first if it is okay. Again, ask first, as a courtesy.
6. Your employees eat, drink or chew gum while talking with
customers on the phone. A telephone mouthpiece is like a
microphone; noises are easily amplified. Employees need to eat
their meals away from the phone and save that stick of gum for
7. You have call-waiting on your business lines, and your
employees frequently interrupt existing calls to take new calls.
One interruption in a call might be excusable; beyond that, you are
crossing the "rude" threshold. Do your best to be prepared with
enough staff for peak calling times.
8. Your employees refuse or forget to use the words "please,"
"thank you" or "you're welcome." Please use these words generously.
9. Your employees hold side conversations with friends while
talking to customers on the phone, or they make personal calls on
cell phones in your call center. Don't do either of these.
10. Your employees seem incapable of offering more than one-word
answers. One-word answers come across as rude and uncaring.
11. Your employees do provide more than one-word answers, but
many of the words are grounded in company or industry jargon that
many customers don't understand. If you sell technology products,
for example, don't casually use abbreviations, such as APIs, ISVs,
SMTP or TCP/IP.
12. Your employees request that customers call them back when
the employees aren't so busy. Customers should never be told to
call back. Request the customer's number instead.
13. Your employees rush through calls, forcing customers off the
phone at the earliest opportunity. Be a little more discreet.
Politely suggest that you've got the information you need and must
move on to other calls.
14. Your employees obnoxiously bellow, "What's this in reference
to?" This response humbles customers and belittles their requests.
Screening techniques can be used with a little more warmth and
finesse. If a caller has mistakenly come your way, do your best to
point them in the right direction.
15. Your employees freely admit to customers that they hate
their jobs. This simply makes the entire company look bad. And
don't think such a moment of candor or lapse in judgment won't get
back to the boss.
In defense of customer service workers, customers can be rude
too. And customer service jobs can often be thankless, with little
motivation or incentive to do the job right.
Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor Customer
Service Training in St. Louis, Mo. and was a featured speaker at
the NAMB 2004 Annual Convention and Exposition in Salt Lake City.
For more information, call (314) 291-1012 or visit www.telephonedoctor.com.