Help Desk Essentials: Customer Interaction
Learn valuable soft skills and customer service skills for working on an IT help desk.
  1. Introduction - Hello and welcome to Help Desk Essentials: Customer Interaction. My name is Fran Gilbane and my co-author is my brother, Richard Gilbane. Now our course has one key aim and that is to provide you with the soft skills and customer service knowledge to ensure you deliver a positive customer service. Now it may be that at this moment in time you're actually only just thinking about starting a career on an IT help desk, or you might have just been offered a job and you're not quite sure what's involved and what skills you're going to need to be able to do a good job in your new role. Well alternatively you may have actually been the role for quite a while, but things aren't actually going that well and you need to try and work out how you can improve your performance. We hope that our course will help all of you regardless of what your starting point is. Now the approach we've used for the course is really designed to take you through all the key stages. We've split it into different modules and we have the concepts of soft skills and customer service embedded throughout each module because there is no part of the customer journey that doesn't actually involve these concepts. So that said, we're going to look at the customer journey and we're also going to look at the call structure. We're going to use a series of role plays throughout the modules to demonstrate key points so it actually comes to you doing your role, you'll have a very good idea of what to expect and how to work with the various customers you're going to encounter. To make this easy, we've spilt the course into seven distinct modules. Now our first module is going to be perceptions and that will be your perceptions of what the role is, your customer's perception of what your role is, and also your employer's perception of what your role is. We'll then move on to look at communication. Now communication is a wide and varied topic but absolutely vital if you are going to get your call correct. We'll also look at language. Language is a very under-representative subject and it influences how successful our communication often is. We'll then move on to looking at the call opening, a key part of any call. Don't get this bit right or you may lose your customer. Logically the next step will be the body of the call, the main part of the call. What's actually involved? What do you need to do? What you do need to be aware of? And then obviously we need to look at how to close the call, how to leave your customer in a positive and happy place. And then last but not least, we will look at any actions you need to take after the call, so how do you finish that customer's particular journey before starting a new journey with your next customer? We hope you enjoy the course and that it helps you be as successful as possible in your role going forward. Thank you.

  2. Perceptions - Perceptions Introduction Hello and welcome to our module on perceptions. In this module we are going to look at three distinct types of perceptions, or rather perhaps to be more accurate, three different groups of people who hold perceptions about the role of an IT helpdesk worker. The first one we're going to look at is the customer because the customer is going to have perceptions about you and your job role. The second area we're going to consider is you, the IT helpdesk employee. Now we recognize that the perceptions you hold are likely to vary quite a bit, depending on where you are in your career so obviously somebody who is just contemplating this as a job role may be coming at it from a completely different place to somebody who's been doing the job role quite a while, so we're going to look at all the possible perceptions involved regardless of where your starting point actually is. We're also going to look at the perceptions of the business, i.e., your employer. What perceptions do they have about you and your job role? Now I think it's important to pause a moment here and recognize that if we're going to consider all these different perceptions then another key area we have to examine is what the reality of those perceptions actually is. Now before we go any further it's perhaps important to stop and actually define what we mean by perceptions. Now an online dictionary definition gives a perception as being a belief or an opinion often held by many people and based on how things seem, seem being perhaps the key word here. So what it's actually saying is, these perceptions aren't necessarily factual, they are just opinions; some of them may be right, but some of them equally may be wrong. So by looking at the different perceptions we can also look at the way they influence the way we behave and the way we respond to others. You may be surprised quite how big an effect a perception can actually have on not only how you do your job role, but also how you interact with your customer and your employer.

  3. Customer Perceptions - So that brings us on to our first section of perceptions and we're going to start with the customer. Who do they think you are? What do they think you are there to do? So our first perception. You have a magic wand. Now in case you're not quite sure what I mean by that, the customer might perceive that you can basically wave your magic wand and fix everything because you're that good. So what do we think the reality of this situation actually is? Well, unsurprisingly, there is no such thing as a magic wand, so while the customer may perceive that you can do anything, we all know that unfortunately that is not always the case. Let's have a look at another one. The customer might perceive that you are a geek. Now we've all got an image in our head of what is meant by that word and if we're being honest, there's nothing wrong if you are a geek, but is everybody who works in IT a geek? Well, the reality is again, unsurprisingly, not everyone who works in IT is a geek, but some people will fit the stereotype and that's because we're all different and we all bring different skill sets to the employment place. Everybody has value; it doesn't mean we all have to be the same. Our next one, the customer perceives that you know what they mean. Hmmm, it's an interesting one, that one, isn't it? I mean, ask yourself, are we mind readers? Do we always know what they're talking about? And our reality says, actually the customers don't always express themselves clearly, so they may think they've given you a perfectly valid explanation and you should understand it, but that may not actually be the case. Now what's our next one going to be? Ah! That you know everything! Obviously! You work at an IT helpdesk; of course you're going to know everything! There'd be something wrong with the world if you didn't know everything, wouldn't there? Well, let's see, actually, no, you can't possibly know everything; nobody knows everything. It's one of the reason we have colleagues and supervisors, so we've got people to go to help for it if we are stuck. Of course the issue here is actually does your ego stop you asking for help when you're stuck? That's something to consider maybe. Let's have a look at another one. Oh, you're going to have an instant solution. Now I suspect those of you who are starting out in this may think that might be a valid point, where if those of you who've been doing this job for a little while, I suspect will have a different opinion. So let's see. Well, unsurprisingly, not all problems have an instant solution. So this means that while some problems you might be able to fix there and then whilst the customer is on the phone, other ones might actually require a callback. And unsurprisingly there are actually a few more customer perceptions to be considered. So the next one that we're going to look at is that you are there to help. Quite a strange concept, isn't it? Well, the reality of this is, yes, of course you're there to help; it's your primary purpose. It's why you're employed in what is known as helpdesk and that's not meant as sarcastically as that might sound because I think sometimes when we are doing a job, it's very easy to actually forget what our main purpose is. So while you will have other things that have to be considered, maybe targets and things which we will talk about later, your job is to help the customer. Now our next perception, you will provide a solution. I have to be honest, that is true. You will provide a solution, but as it says on the slide, it may not be the one that the customer actually wants to hear, so your solution might be one that involves extra cost to their business. It might be we can fix the problem, but unfortunately that work you were just doing has all been lost. That is the reality of this sort of work. Let's have a look at another one. Your priority is to protect the business' reputation. It's quite an interesting one, that one. Let's have a look at the reality. Well, yes you are representing the company and the service they are trying to deliver. So we would argue that your priority is doing your job in a professional manner. If you do your job correctly that will automatically protect the business' reputation. After all, if you do a bad job, the business will actually lose their customers and you ultimately run the risk of losing your job, so yes, I think you are there to protect the business' reputation by doing your job properly. Now the next one is a little bit different. Your priority is to help the business save money. Now what is the reality of this situation? I think the key thing to remember is it is a business. You are supposed to make money and just because the solution is cost effective doesn't make it a bad solution. What we're looking to do here is to provide the customer with a solution that is going to fix their problem. Now the last one in this particular area is perhaps one of the ones that causes people maybe the most problems, particularly when it comes to communicating with a customer and that's that you will make the customer feel stupid and there's a very simple reality attached to this and it's basically if you do that, you are not doing your job properly. This is all about customer service, customer relations. If you make somebody feel like an idiot, they're not going to be very happy.

  4. IT Helpdesk Employee Perceptions - So let's move on to a new topic: IT helpdesk employee. Who do you think you are? What are you there to do? Let's look at the first perception and I have to admit, this is one of my favorite: I am an IT god! I bet if you look around the room you will spot colleagues who actually do believe that, so what do we think the reality is? Well, you may have a lot of knowledge, but unsurprisingly, you don't know everything, which means you are not an IT god. Really? Keep the ego in check! Keep your feet grounded in reality! We're there to do a job which is help your customer. Let's have a look at another one. Customers are stupid. Anybody having a twinge of conscience at the moment about conversations you might have had with colleagues about somebody you've just spoken to? Well, how true do we think this is? Everyone is good at different things. If the customers had the same IT knowledge as you, they would not need to ring the helpdesk and surprisingly, this does not make them stupid. Perhaps you need to remember there will be things that your customers can do, things that your customers know, that you don't. As I said earlier in this course, we are all good at different things and I think it's important you actually remember that. Don't put your customer down. What's our next one? Customers think they know best. To be honest, I think we're all actually guilty of that one in different circumstances so again, it's important to really think about what the reality of the situation is and in this instance, the onus is very much on you to give the customer the information they need without antagonizing them. That means you're going to need to use tact and diplomacy sometimes to deal with a customer effectively when they do think they might know better than you. That actually takes quite a bit of skill and practice. If you're unsure how to manage them, speak to your colleagues, speak to your supervisor; get the help that is actually available for you. Our next one, it is just a job. Have you ever said that? If you haven't said it, have you felt it? We all know somebody who thinks it's just a job, does it really matter? Who thinks the company is just there to pay your wages regardless of how you do? So the reality. Remember, even if you think it's just a job, it's helping you pay your bills; it's giving you the opportunity to develop a career and if you don't care about the job you're doing, I can pretty much guarantee you won't keep it. Another one, that you can't know everything. Well, what about this one? Yes, you can't know everything; nobody knows everything, but what we can do is ensure the knowledge that we have is as up to date as possible. We can be eager about taking advantage of learning opportunities. We can recognize when we perhaps don't know the answer to something and then go find it. Ask for extra help. Do your research. The strongest employee is the one who recognizes their own weaknesses and then proactively does something to overcome them. And then we have the perception that you are an integral part of the customer experience. And this one, this perception is so very true: you are an integral part of the customer experience. Remember, you're representing the business, and how that customer perceives you has a massive impact on what they think about the company, what they think about the effectiveness of the service that you're trying to provide. And we have a few more perceptions that you as an IT Helpdesk employee might actually hold about yourself and your job role, so let's have a look. Well, the perception that it will be challenging. I wonder what the reality is for this one. As it says quite clearly, sometimes it will be challenging; after all, that's what makes life interesting, isn't it? At other times it will be monotonous. I think perhaps it's important to realize that every job has its boring bits. That's life and it's a case of making sure you perform those actions, you know, whether that be the same problem and another call again and again and again, be performing in a professional manner. People are expecting a service of you; it is your job to deliver a professional and friendly service at all times regardless of what the issue is. Let's have a look at another one. It is a learning opportunity. I like this one. I think this is a very true perception. It's a great learning opportunity. You're going to be able to expand your IT knowledge and experience. You're going to be given opportunities and if you are a proactive and sort of self-developing person, the world as they say is your oyster. This is one of those jobs that will allow you to make of it whatever you actually want to, to expand your knowledge in the way that will benefit both the business and yourself, if you take advantage of your opportunities. Let's have a look at another one. This is quite a common one and I think this is one that causes perhaps the most problems for people who work on the helpdesks, that the customer understands what you are talking about. I think you need to be very, very careful around that perception because customers have different levels of knowledge. That means if you presume the level of knowledge, you may pitch your explanation at the wrong level and this is an area we're going to look at in another module in quite a bit more detail because it has a massive impact on how successful your customer service has actually been. And so that brings us on to the perception of it is all about targets. Now for those of you who are new to the industry, you may not fully appreciate what a target is. It's basically something that your employer has said you have to achieve. Within the core sensor, we're usually talking about things like call length or quality of the actual call. They can be quite varied, the targets and it's something that we will look at a little bit more shortly. So what is the reality of that perception? Well, on practical front, targets are important because they allow businesses to analyze performance and to identify areas for development and improvement. Put more simply, it's a way that your boss can use to basically see if you're doing your job right, so businesses do put an awful lot of emphasis on targets, particularly in this sort of environment. And our last perception for this area; it will be boring. A tricky one, that one and the reality of this is actually, yes, sometimes it's going to be very boring, but as I said earlier, that is life. Every job has its boring bits and it's whether you manage those boring bits in a professional manner which actually dictates how good you are at your job so if we're going to be really quite brutal about it, get over it, deal it with it. You will occasionally be bored.

  5. The Business (IT Helpdesk Employer) Perceptions - And that brings us then to our final category of perceptions, the business, i.e., the IT Helpdesk employer. The company you work for. Who do they think you are? What do they think you are there to do? So let's have a look at our first one and that is that employees should be and will be enthusiastic at all times. I can hear you wince. I can feel you cringing. I mean, really? Is that actually realistic? Well, you're not going to be enthusiastic all of the time. Let's be honest about it, but you can sound it and in one of our later modules we are going to look at how you can manipulate your voice to sound a particular way regardless of how you might actually be feeling. Let's have a look at another one. Good service will lead to return business. Well, I think this is quite an obvious one, to be honest. I mean, the reality is, the customers remember good service and it does influence their buying decisions so the better you do your job, the happier the customer will be and the more likely it is that they will continue to use the service, which in turn gives you greater job security, so it's actually quite important. And then we have, there will be upselling opportunities. Now this one is quite unusual as perceptions go because the reality of the situation is, they will actually depend on your company's business model. Now what this means is that for some of you, you will be expected to upsell and for those who aren't sure what that means, it means basically sell the customer another product, when you have them on the phone, but for others of you it will never, ever be relevant. And that brings us on to our next perception, targets. KPIs and SLAs are key. Now to those of you who are new to the industry, you probably don't have the faintest idea what a KPI is or what an SLA is, so just as a quick summary, a KPI is a key performance indicator and it's a term which is used to cover a wide variety of different things the company might measure to see whether you are doing your job properly and to the right standard and it can include your more traditional targets of like call length and call outcome, but it can also be things like the quality of the call, have you opened the call correctly? Did you close the call correctly? Did you provide the customer with a solution? To be honest, it's a wide and varied area because what KPIs are set are down to each individual company. Now an SLA is a little bit different. An SLA is a service level agreement and that is actually a contractual agreement between your company and the company that you're providing the service to so it's realistically an agreement that says you will perform your job in a particular way, it might have time frames included in it, and it's something that the company has to follow. So I suspect having had these sort of definitions you're going to be very unsurprised to hear that the reality of this is that it's an accurate perception. The business has to adhere to its SLAs and targets are often a good way of checking performance against SLAs. So yes, KPIs, SLAs, they are key. They are important. Now our next one is that customers will be kept happy through proactive solutions and I think this is another one that has a slightly blindingly obvious reality as in, if you can solve the customer's problem then yes, they will probably be happier; however, it's important to remember that they may still be quite unhappy that they had the problem in the first place, so even though you have done your job properly, correctly, to a high standard, you may still sometimes have a disgruntled customer on the other end of the phone. Now our last perception is that employees' knowledge will be extensive and up to date, and you can understand why your employer might perceive this to be the case. I mean, the reality is though that learning is an ongoing process; we always have room for more knowledge, but the business will probably expect you to have a certain level of basic knowledge and if they don't provide ongoing training to ensure your knowledge is both relevant and up to date, then the owners will be on you to ensure that you do gain that extra knowledge. Again, this will vary though, business to business.

  6. Summary - And that really brings us to the end of the module, so we just want to provide you with a quick summary for what's been covered so far. Now obviously everyone has perceptions about IT helpdesks and the people who work on them and we would hope that by having gone through a lot of these perceptions you've recognized the fact that they can influence how we respond in certain circumstances and why it's so important that we keep our perceptions based on reality. So for example, if you are going around thinking, I am an IT god, then the reality is on the phone you're going to come across as arrogant and unfriendly and you will annoy the customer. Now if that occurs, it is not going to be a comfortable phone call for anybody and odds on, the customer will probably complain at the end of it, so we need to be very, very sensible about perceptions. We need to recognize them, but we need to maybe mend our behavior to ensure that we are able to continue to provide that high level of customer service. So if we treat every customer the same without taking into account their perceptions, and if we don't take your perceptions into account either, it's probably going to lead to poor customer service, whereas if you take a step back, you recognize the reality of the situation, then you are more likely to provide the customer with a service that will keep them coming back to the business.

  7. Language - Language Introduction Welcome to our module on language. Now in this module we are going to start by looking at four different areas. The first area we're going to look at is language barriers, so basically if people don't speak the same language as a first language, how do we deal with this? We're then going to look at local colloquialisms, so phrases that are perhaps unique to where you live. Will other people actually understand them? This will be followed by 'tech' speak and I think that one is fairly self-explanatory as to what that means, but we will be looking at that in a little bit of detail and using some role plays to emphasize the points in that. And our final area is going to be communicating with colleagues and really the appropriate way to actually do that.

  8. Language Barrier - And this brings us to the language barrier where the language of communication is a second language. Let's look at this in a bit of detail. Well, there are two people who are likely to be involved in the phone conversation; that's going to be the customer and it's also going to be you and for the purpose of this module we're going to assume that the people's first language is actually English so the question that has to be asked is really, is English the customer's first language? And the other question that has to be asked concerns you and whether English is your first language. If English is a second language for either you or the customer, there may end up being a language barrier because there may be some words or some phrases that one of you does not understand. Let's look at this in a bit more detail. The thing to realize is that there could be some negative effects from this. Now that's where the phrase really, language barrier is coming from because that in ability to communicate clearly in the same language has created a barrier. The first negative effect we're going to have a quick look at is frustration. If English is a second language for one of your or both of you, you may not actually understand each other that well and that can quite easily lead to frustration. Now frustration is an emotion that usually starts to show through in somebody's tone of voice and we're going to examine tone of voice in a lot more detail really, in our communication module. If one of the parties is getting frustrated though, it's unlikely to be a successful call. The next one we're going to look at is anger. Now anger is arguably one step up from frustration. When your frustration hasn't been, should we say, dealt with effectively, it's not a big leap for that to turn into anger and if either you or the customer gets angry on the call, it's going to be tricky turning it into a positive experience for the customer. I think it's perhaps worth mentioning as well that in terms of customer service, if you actually demonstrate either frustration or anger on a call, you're not doing your job properly. Our next category is confusion. It is so easy to get confused when we don't understand each other and that may mean that the information you are trying to give to the customer is misinterpreted, so the customer does the wrong thing and you end up with an unhappy customer. We've also got incorrect advice and that's really again linking into that confusion one. So if you have misunderstood the customer, you may give them the wrong information. If they have misunderstood you, they may give you the wrong information, which leads to you giving them the wrong advice. And our last area is call termination. Now this should never, ever be you hanging up on the customer, but you may find that a customer will hang up on you if they feel that the call is not progressing and that is due to you or them not understanding each other. So how do we deal effectively with a language barrier? Well there are a couple of things you can actually do and some of these are quite obvious, but it's surprising how often people do forget to do the obvious. First one is practice your active listening skills and then use them. So you're looking for the nuances in their tone of voice, what they're saying, the words they're using, clues that are going to tell you that have a communication issue. It is also be willing to ask people to repeat themselves. If you do it the right way, nobody minds saying the same thing again. If you make them feel stupid though, then you may end up with resentment. Be willing to rephrase things. So if you are getting a clue from the customer that there is an element of confusion, then maybe try and use simpler words. Where you have English as a second language, and let's be honest, the English language is somewhat difficult to learn, we'll lucky enough to have a very wide variety of words we can use to substitute, or as a substitute, should we say, for a confusion one. So use your brain. Try and be helpful. You'd be surprised at how effective that can actually be. We also have, have patience. Patience is so important when you have a language barrier and if you exercise patience and smile when you're speaking to the customer, they will feel that you are trying to help them and they are more likely to work with you to clarify any confusion. We also have a practical one; utilize the language skills or your colleagues. Now this does depend a little bit on what your policies are, but what often occurs is if you ask around, many people in the office may be speak at least one other language, if not more than one and it may be that there is somebody available who can perhaps speak to the customer in their own language and just clarify what the issue actually is. Where this can occasionally be problematic is if you have a quality procedure that involves your calls actually being marked because in that instance the person marking the call needs to understand what is being said.

  9. Local Colloquialisms - This brings us on to local colloquialisms, words and phrases that are unique to where you live. Now Richard and I both like in Yorkshire in England and Yorkshire is renowned for many things. As the picture shows, its beautiful moors in the peak district, a special sauce called Henderson's relish and Sheffield steel, of course. There is something else it is unique or renowned for, shall we say, and that's the language that the people use around here and you can very easily go to another part of the U.K., if you're from Yorkshire, and they will not understand a word that you are saying. So it's quite common that people can be speaking the same language and still not understand each other and if we're talking about whether it be American English or British English or English that's spoken in another country, even though technically it's the same language, they can still be communication problems. So we thought we'd have a bit of a lighthearted look at this and we've come up with a range of traditional Yorkshire phrases and sayings and what they actually really mean and we're going to go through these and see if you can guess what the meaning might be before we give you the translation. You may be quite surprised on some of them. So let's start with our first Yorkshire versus the Queen's English phrase. "Ey up, howtha doin?" Now that means, "hello, how are you." "Eeh by gum," which means "Oh my God." "Keep thi neb aht." This means, "mind your own business." "Ta f" brew." You might guess this one. What this one means is, "thank you for the cup of tea." "Fred's popped iz clogs." This means, "Fred has died." "It's gunna bi be off two wahl six." This one means, "it will be switched off from 2 project management until 6 pm." "Put wood inth 'ole." Now I'm willing to bet you haven't guessed what this one means. It's actually "shut the door." "Ahl do it me sen." One of my favorite phrases this is. "I'll do it myself." "Nah cloth ee-erz." Good one this one. "You are deaf." "Iz on tha bog." A very common phrase this is. Not necessarily that polite mind, "he is on the toilet." "Wuh tha born in a bahn?" Now I grew up hearing this one, every single day of the week and what this one means is, "you have left the door open. Close it!" Dealing effectively with the local colloquialisms. So basically what happens if somebody does use phrases like the ones we've just used? What you can actually do? Well, the first thing is, from your point of view, don't use them. You know you're going to only confuse the customer if you do. You need to use basic English skills that everybody will understand. Next, use active listening skills to try and identify when the other person does not understand something that you have said because if we're being honest about this, because you are used to using some of these phrases and sayings, you may accidentally do so, so you need to be switched on to notice if the other person is actually confused. Also, be willing to rephrase things. So if you've picked up on the fact that they are confused, say the same thing again, just in a different way. And maybe something we need to recognize here is when we're talking about local colloquialisms, we're not just talking about you using them, we're also talking about the customer using them. So if the customer does use one, then admit it if you don't understand something that they've actually said. Ask them if they'd mind rephrasing it. Again, if you do this in the right way, with a smile in your voice, they will not be offended, but like we've said all along, communication has to be effective between you and the customer. You both need to understand what the other person is talking about.

  10. 'Tech' Speak - And this brings us on to tech speak. When is it appropriate to use it? Well, let's think about the customer first and foremost. You need to ask yourself several questions. Now the first one is, who is your customer? So what sort of person are they? Where are they calling from? You then need to consider how they phrase their questions, so are they using technical language or are they using non-technical language because this will give you a big clue as to how much understanding they may or may not have. You also need to think about, are they using active and positive listening signals? Are they staying silent as you speak or are you getting sort of little yeses and ah, right, some things like that, because that indicates that they're actually understanding what you're saying. Also, are they starting to sound frustrated and this is back to that tone of voice and you know, as I said, we deal with tone of voice in quite a bit of detail in the communication module, but remember, tone of voice is the emotion in the voice so if you're listening to how they're saying what they're saying, you can often very easily pick up on sounds of frustration. If they're sounding frustrated, odds on they probably don't understand what you're talking about. So we need to make sure that you don't do the following. Don't patronize your customer. That is so annoying when somebody patronizes you and if you presume that they don't understand something when they do, it's very easy to come across as patronizing. Also, don't make assumptions. So don't assume that they do understand when perhaps they don't or assume that they don't understand when perhaps they do. Don't sound frustrated if they don't understand what you are telling them. If you start to sound frustrated, it will very rapidly descend into a negative call and that is not a good situation. Please don't make your customer feel stupid. That is one of the worst possible things you can do and if you do that, then you thoroughly deserve any complaint that comes your way. And don't use language that the customer doesn't understand and again, it's back to listening to your customer, listening for the little signs they will give you by how they respond to what you are saying. And please, don't take pride in proving the customer wrong. Yes, we know you're the expert, that's why you're in the job. You don't have to rub the customer's face in it though that you know more than they do. So we want to suggest that you do the following instead. Listen to the language the customer uses. Do they sound confident? So is their tone of voice a positive one? Ask open questions, and we talk about how to question a customer in quite a lot of detail in the body of the call module, so you can listen to that module to get a lot of guidance on that, but basically short, quick summary, an open question encourages the customer to talk, to get information from them and is a wonderfully useful tool for clarification purposes. Actively listen to the customer. I've already mentioned this a bit already and we will be mentioning this in other modules as well, so let the customer know that you are paying attention and again, that's the little yeses and the, I understand that you're saying, I follow you, and variations on that. It just shows that you are interested in what they are saying. You need to assess their knowledge levels. By assessing their knowledge levels properly you will know how to pitch the information you are giving them. And this brings us on to something known as the mirroring technique. I hope you like the picture of the cat by the way. His name is Jasper. Now the mirroring technique is traditionally used in face-to-face communication, so if you're in an interview situation and the interviewer is sort of leaning back quite relaxed, it's deemed a good idea to sometimes do the same because with mirroring we are essentially giving back this same positive body language that the person we're dealing with is using to us, but you can use this in verbal communications as well and like it involves essentially mirroring the way the customer talks. So if they talk quite quickly, you talk quickly; if they talk quite slowly, you talk quite slowly. It's all based on the idea that people like people who are like them and it's a very subtle way of actually manipulating a communication situation and you can use it to ensure that you use appropriate language, so it's back to that concept of is the customer using technical language and if they are, you do. If they don't, you don't. And this brings us onto our first role play and we're going to look at a non-technical customer for this one. (Ringing) Jasper's World of IT, Rich speaking. Hi, I think I have a problem with my printer, but I'm not sure, it doesn't seem to be working. Right, not a problem. I've just got to ask you a few questions. Can I ask, have you updated your operating system recently on your computer? Uhh, I don't know. Oh, how would I know that? Why would that matter? Well it matters, obviously, if you recently upgraded the software and the operating system on your computer and it's more than likely that you're going to need a new driver for the actual printer to work and it may just require the driver reinstalling or you might have to do a little bit more work, but if you go to the manufacturer's website and download the most recent software for your printer, and install it, it should be working quite soon for you. It's fairly straightforward and it should fix it. Right, eh, well I don't think it will have changed, I mean, I don't get that; why would that affect the printer though? Well, obviously computers have operating systems and that software is installed on them and is required to allow the computer to work and when you change this software, it also changes the software that your peripheral parts need to run on your computer, so without your printer, if you've updated the main operating system, then the old piece of software that your printer uses to communicate will no longer be working, so in order for you to get it working and if you have upgraded your operating system, you need to update your printer software. Okay, eh, I suppose, I will try and get this software then. That should fix it. Thanks very much for calling. Bye! (dial tone) So let's have some feedback on this call. Do you think it went well? Do you think that was a happy customer at the end who clearly understood what she now needed to do? Well, let's see, there were a few errors in this. I mean, the agent did not attempt to assess the customer's knowledge levels so he conducted the whole conversation from his point of view. He didn't use active listening skills so he didn't appreciate that the customer did not understand what he was saying and she clearly did not have the faintest idea what he was talking about so it was really quite poor on the agent's behalf. The agent continued to use technical language even when he actually finally realized that the customer was not following the conversation, so he basically threw the whole concept of customer service straight out the window and went, this is how I'm going to do my job and you will live with it. Totally unacceptable. Then he concluded the call despite not providing the customer the solution they could understand. She had no idea what she needed to do when that call concluded. He didn't even clarify whether she was happy with what she had to now do next. That customer was going to get off that phone and probably not use the service again and she was clearly too embarrassed to ask for further help. So a quick summary; this was a very bad call. So what actually should have happened? Well, first of all, the first thing the agent should have done was listen to the language the customer used. It was very clear that she did not have a large technical knowledge base. Then he should have changed the language he used to suit her level of understanding; put simply, he should have used baby steps and took her through the process gradually. He should have used questions to check her continued understanding as the call progressed, because if you lose the customer at one of the early stages, it doesn't really matter what you do later on in the call. They'll not get the first bit right so the issue is going to remain. And he should have only concluded the call once he was satisfied the customer understood the solution and was happy with the level of service provided. And this brings us on to our second role play with a non-technical customer. Let's hope this one goes a little bit better. (Ringing) Jasper's World of IT, Rich speaking. How can I help? Hi, eh, I think I have a problem with my printer. I'm not sure, it just doesn't seem to be working? Okay, not a problem. I have to ask you a few things to try and resolve your problem; is that okay? Yes, sure, no problem. Can you tell me what operating system are you using? I think it's Windows 8.1. Okay, no problems. Can you tell me what happened when you turned your computer on and you tried to print? Okay, well, the computer came over the message saying I needed to upgrade the operating system to Windows 10, but I didn't really understand what it was, why I had to do it, or what that had to do with my printer. I mean, I followed the on-screen instructions and I pressed next at the appropriate point, but it took ages to do what it wanted to do and well, I never unplugged the computer, but it did switch itself off and on again, but my printer still doesn't work and I've got no idea whether it upgraded itself or not to be honest. Hmmm. Well, if you followed the onscreen instructions then the operating system will have upgraded to Windows 10. Now as you've upgraded your operating system, you will probably need to download a new driver for the printer. Basically this means that the software you've had installed for your printer will only work with the old operating system software on your computer. At the moment, it's like your systems are talking in two different languages to each other and they can't understand each other. This is why things aren't working properly. Does that make sense? Oh, yes, actually that makes a lot more sense. Thank you. Not a problem. Right, I just need to ask a few more questions so we can get your printer working. Do you know the make and model number of your printer? Eh, yes, I do actually. They very helpfully put this information on the front so it's much easier. What do I actually need to do to fix the problem then? Right, you need to go to the website for the manufacturer of your printer and you'll need to access the support section for printers and you will see a section on drivers. The driver is a bit of software you need to get your printer to work with your new operating system. You need to download the latest driver for the printer to allow it to work with Windows 10. Right, no problem. I can do that! Thank you for helping! Not a problem at all. If you have any further problems, please feel free to give us a call back and we'll be happy to help you. Thank you for calling Jasper's World of IT today. (dial tone) Right, let's have some feedback on this call and let's look at why this call was a success, because it was a success. It was a lot better than the previous call. Well, first of all, the agent assessed the customer's knowledge as voiced through an open question and by then listening to the customer's answer, so he wasn't making assumptions and jumping in and ignoring what the customer was actually trying to tell him. He also used active listening skills and this allowed him to appreciate what was confusing the customer. Another way of looking at it is, he actually paid attention to what the customer was saying and what the customer wasn't saying. And he varied his language to suit the customer's knowledge and understanding. So for example, he made sure that he used everyday language to explain why her printer actually wasn't working by talking about, you know, the equipment or software speaking in two different languages and not understanding each other, and finally, the agent only concluded the call when he was confident that the customer understood the solution to their problem and was happy with the level of service provided. It doesn't mean he had to turn around and go and say, so are you happy with the service I provided today? He just needed to actually listen to the tone of voice. It was a question he had to ask himself, not necessarily the customer. So let's have a look at a role play with a technical customer, so that's basically a customer who has a large technical knowledge base. Let's see how this one goes. (Ringing) Jasper's World of IT, Dave speaking. How may I help today? Hi Dave. My printer stopped working after I recently updated my operating system to Windows 10. I'm fairly sure that it will be my driver for the printer that's causing the problem, but I just wanted to make sure that I'm correct. What do you think? Well, before we get into all that tricky technical software issues, can you confirm some basics for me? You say you upgraded your operating system. Now an operating system is the doing and thinking bit of your computer. Did you try and change this by yourself or did you get someone to help you? Also, can you confirm that the printer is actually plugged into a power source? You can usually tell if it's switched on; they'll be some lights showing. Are there any lights showing? Also, can you confirm your printer is connected to the computer by that cable with the little rectangular end? Excuse me? I'm not stupid, you know? I do know how to upgrade and operating system and obviously I checked all the connections before I called you? And no, I did not need any help, thank you! Well done, that's really good work. This is tricky stuff. Now for the difficult bit. Feel free to stop me if you don't understand. If you followed the onscreen instructions then the operating system will have upgraded to Windows 10. Now as you've upgraded your operating system, you will probably need to download a new driver for the printer. Basically this means the software you had installed for your printer will only work with the old operating system. At the moment it's like your systems are talking in two different languages to each other and they can't understand each other. This is why things aren't working properly. Does that make sense? I would suggest downloading a new driver from the manufacturer's website. I just need to ask you a few more questions so we can get your printer working. Do you know the make of your printer and do you know what the model number is? Of course, I know the make and model number of the printer! So it is just my driver then that needs changing? Yes, I think you need to change your driver. If you go to the website for the manufacturer of your printer and access the support section for your printer, you will see a section on drivers. The driver is a bit of software that you need to get your printer to work within your operating system and you'll need to download the latest driver for the printer to allow it to work with Windows 10. Are you serious? Is that all I have to do is access the manufacturer's website? Fine, well I'll do that then! Yep, that should fix it. Thanks for calling today. (dial tone) So let's have some feedback on this call. Do you think it was any good? We don't. What were the errors? Well, the first one, the agent did not attempt to assess the customer's knowledge levels. We can't trust this customer with our previous one. This customer did have a technical knowledge base that was quite clear by the first few sentences that she uttered in the call. The agent didn't use active listening skills. He didn't appreciate that the customer felt patronized and was offended by his choice of language, or he didn't care. It's hard to tell because how he missed that she was getting annoyed is beyond me. And he continued to use non-technical language, even when he should have realized that the customer had that technical knowledge base. He was extremely patronizing. Now the irony of this is that a lot of the call was actually quite similar to the call with the non-technical customer which was deemed a good call and that is because you have to alter what you're saying and how you're saying it to suit the actual customer in front of you, so what is great on one call is terrible on another sometimes. And he concluded the call despite not providing the customer with the level of service that she had anticipated. She was clearly a very unhappy lady at the end of that call. So, what should have happened? Well, first of all, he should have listened to the language she used. That would have allowed him to alter his language, so clearly he should have changed his language to suit her level of understanding and it was not doing that, which I think had a massive contribution to her being as angry as she was, and he should've used questions to check her continued understanding as the call progressed. If he'd actually done that, he would have realized that he didn't need to go down the route of explanation, shall we say, that he chose to do. And he should've only concluded the call once he was satisfied that she understood the solution and was happy with the level of service provided. Remember, you're in a customer service job. You need to make sure the customer is happy. And this brings us on to our final role play, again with a technical customer. Let's see how this one goes. (Ringing) Jasper's World of IT. Dave speaking. How can I help you today? Hi Dave. My printer stopped working after I recently updated my operating system to Windows 10. I'm fairly sure that it will be driver for the printer that's causing the problems, but I just wanted to make sure I'm correct. Okay, no problem. I have to ask you a few things to try and resolve your problem. Is that okay? Yes, sure, no problem. Can you tell me what happened when you turned on your computer? You tried to print? Okay, well, the computer booted up as normal, but it then gave me a message saying that my operating system needed to be upgraded to Windows 10. I upgraded the operating system, which went fine, and the computer rebooted so I loaded up my working text to print a document, but it wouldn't print and it didn't have the printer listed on the dropdown menu. No problem. Before we get into the software issue, I just need to ask you some very basic questions. We always do this just to make sure our analysis of your problem is correct and we give you the correct advice. Is that okay? Sure, no problem. Excellent. Okay, can you confirm the printer is plugged in to a power source and it is powering up? Can you also confirm the printer is connected to a computer via a USB cable? Yes, I checked all of that before I called you. Great! Well, the good news is you are correct. It is a driver that's causing you the problems because of your operating system upgrade. You need to just reinstall the printer on your computer by downloading a new driver for the printer from the support section of the manufacturer's website. Once it is downloaded and installed on the computer, the printer should work fine. Do you know the make and model number of your printer? Well, that's easy enough. Yes, I know the make and model number so I can get that sorted out straight away, not a problem at all. Thanks for your help today. It's no problem at all. If you have any further issues, please feel free to give us a call back and we'll be happy to help you. Thank you for calling Jasper's World of IT today. Bye! (dial tone) So let's have some feedback on this call. It was obviously a much better call so why was it a success? Well, the agent assessed the customer's knowledge levels through an open question and also again by listening to the customer's answer. It makes such a difference if you actually pay attention to what is being said. The agent also used active listening skills so that was allowing him to appreciate what was confusing the customer. Again, we can't emphasize enough how important it is that you use these active listening skills. And the agent varied his language to suit his customer's knowledge and understanding so because the customer had a technical knowledge base, the agent didn't keep explaining what for that customer was blindingly obvious. He spoke to her on the correct level. And finally, he only concluded the call when he was confident that she understood the solution to her problem and was happy with the level of service provided and like in the previous successful call, he achieved that by listening to her tone of voice, by listening to how she sounded. It was a good call.

  11. Communicating with Colleagues - And this brings us on to our final section in this module, communicating with colleagues. Should this be formal or informal? How technical should your communication be? Well, let's start by looking at the formal and informal debates. Well, on the formal side, you need to think about when the colleague is also your customer because even if you work for the same company, it does tend to automatically formalize the relationship and there is still a very large degree of customer service involved and expected. You also need to think about when you've had no previous contact with a colleague, so this is your first impression and if you go in, in an extremely informal manner, they may not be too impressed. Another point is when the customer may have accessed the communication and that does happen quite a bit and you need to make sure that you come across as having provided a professional service at all times. On the informal side, that is sometimes appropriate when you already have an established working relationship. So if this is somebody that you've spoken to two or three times a week for the last six months, automatically it is likely to have taken on a more informal tone because that's just human nature at the end of the day. But still, don't forget that they are the customer. You can also sometimes be more informal when brevity is important. So if there isn't much time and you need to get your message across nice and quick, an informal language can be a lot quicker to use and when that is the standard style of communication within the business. So particularly I think it's important to remember that, you know, we are communicating with colleagues here and okay, so sometimes that colleague is a customer and sometimes they're not and I think that should have a very large influence on whether you choose a formal or an informal style. Let's move on then. Let's look at the different ways we might actually choose to communicate with our colleagues then. Well, we've got the obvious phone call followed by a call log, system update, and finally email. We're going to have a quick look at these in turn and we'll start with a phone call. Now when you are ringing a colleague, whether that colleague be your customer or not, often all calls in a call center environment are recorded, so if you are having, how should we say, an inappropriate conversation, there may be a record of it. You need to be careful. Also, your manager may choose to listen to the call if it's being recorded. If it's not being recorded, they may choose to listen to it live, so there are a couple of different ways here where if you have adopted, how should we say, an inappropriate method of communication, you may be found out and you may get into trouble. The other thing to remember is, everyone walking past can hear you and hear what you are saying and that is something you really need to bear in mind because if you're saying something a little bit inappropriate maybe, they may choose to then go and listen to the call or listen to future calls. You are in a work environment. Professional behavior is expected at all times. Let us have a look now at a call log. Well, this is usually supposed to be a summary of the call, i.e., the customer's problem and your advice, so it should be quite short and sweet and to the point and it needs to be easily understood by all the relevant parties and that can quite often be a colleague. So how you write the call log is actually very important. Call logs also form parts of audit trails so if there has been a customer complaint, they may go back and look at the actual call log, so again, it needs to be easily understood by all parties. From a practical point, you may have space and time limitations and that in itself can be incredibly frustrating if you have more to say then what they're providing room for and it's something though you have to take into account. So you may need to make the message briefer than what you would perhaps choose to do. And finally, depending on the data protection laws in your country, the customer, whether that be colleague or not, may request access to it. Certainly in the U.K. customers often request access to call logs, so if that happens, not only is the customer going to look at it, but I imagine other people in the business will also be looking at it, so it has to be clear. We've then got system updates. Now for some companies a call log and a system update is all one in the same thing, but in other companies it's not; they're two different systems that you're doing, and it's usually a permanent record, so what you put in the system update is going to stay there forever. Now what you put in the system may result in other colleagues having to take further action, so again, they have to be able to understand what it is you are trying to say and again you may have space and time limitations so it's very much a balancing act between being clear to the point, and in showing that everybody can understand it and system updates often provide key evidence during the investigation of complaints. So other people in the business will always need to understand what it is you are trying to say. Our last category is email. These days it's usual for a business to be able to access any emails on its server if it chooses to do so. So, how should we say, inappropriate emails to colleagues? Asking what they are doing that evening or at the weekend or are they free for lunch yet, can all be deemed to be a misuse of company time and to be honest, many people have been dismissed for sending inappropriate emails using work equipment and/or in work time. So it's just something to be very aware of. Emails should be work related. And again, the customer who may or may not be your colleague and/or the regulator if in your country the industry has an independent regulator, they may be entitled to see a copy of the email you sent. Any email you send you need to always be conscious of the fact that somebody else could read it apart from the recipient.

  12. Summary - And this brings us to the summary for this module. So what do we think? Well, the first thing you need to do is identify whether there is a language barrier to be considered. You need to avoid local phrases and colloquialisms and you only use tech speak if you know the customer will understand you. These things are so important. Using the appropriate language always increase the effectiveness of the communication between parties and thus will ultimately improve the service you deliver. At the end of the day, this is all about solving the customers' issues and keeping the customers happy. Good luck!

  13. Communication - Communication Introduction Welcome to our communication module. In this module we're going to look at several different areas. The first area we will look at is what is communication? After all, it's a word that everybody banters around, but what do we actually mean by it? We will then move on to how do we communicate? So how do we pass in information from A to B? We'll then look at why does communication matter? I mean, at the end of the day, is it really that important? This will be followed by controllable factors, so things that we have some control over that may influence how effective our communication is, and we will finish with looking at uncontrollable factors. So the non-controllable factors that again have an impact but we can't necessarily do anything about.

  14. What Is Communication? - So this brings us on to what is communication? How would you define communication? Let's have a look. Well, is communication talking to someone and hoping they can hear you? Is that sufficient? Does it matter if they can't hear you? Or, is it sending them a letter? I mean, after all, we often send letters, but does it matter if somebody can't read your handwriting? Has that stopped it being communication? What about just looking at someone? I mean, we've all been in that situation where somebody walks past us on the street and they smile and often we smile back. Does that count as communication? Or what about when somebody just looks at you and they stare and they don't say anything? And we often feel uncomfortable. Is that communication? I mean, does it actually matter whether they receive your message? Does that affect whether it counts as communication or not? And also, does it matter whether they understand your message? After all, if two people speak totally different languages, and neither can understand the other, are they still communicating? Well, we thought about this and we thought that really we needed to come up with a definition of communication. Now to be honest, there are lots and lots of different definitions out there and we're not saying that one definition is better than another or this particular definition is right and that one is wrong. You really need to make your own mind up about what you think is appropriate, but for the purpose of this, the definition we came up with, we think works in the scenarios that we're looking at. So our definition is, a means of successfully passing on information from one person to another and the key word there is successfully. So for us, it is very important whether that message is received and also whether that message is understood. So does it really matter what form the information is in, nor does it matter how you actually send it. The key points are, is it actually received and is it understood?

  15. How Do We Communicate? - Which brings us on to how do we communicate? What methods do we use? Let's have a look. There are generally three main types of communication. The first one is nonverbal communication and that's often more commonly known as body language. The next one is verbal communication. And our final category is written communication. We're going to have a look at each one of these in turn so we're going to start with nonverbal communication. Now when people are talking about nonverbal communication, as I just said, what they're actually talking about is body language. So put simply, it's how we use our body to pass on a message to somebody else, and body language itself includes quite a few different things. First one we've got is facial expressions. Smiling, frowning, squinting, staring, all those miniscule little changes that we make continually when we are basically just going through life, all send out a message to somebody else. Eye contact. Now eye contact is an interesting one is because what it means does depend a little bit on your actual culture, so the comments I'm going to make about this really do apply to the U.K. and some other countries, but not necessarily every country. In the U.K., if you do not make eye contact, that can be deemed an issue because people struggle to work out whether you're actually telling the truth or not and that is abundantly apparent if somebody is looking all around, everywhere but actually at the person they're talking to. Whereas if somebody is avoiding eye contact and perhaps looking downwards, they tend to come across as more shy and nervous. On the other end of the extreme though, you've got somebody who makes too much eye contact so essentially they are just staring and that can make the recipient feel very, very, very uncomfortable. Now for you guys who are thinking about starting, you know, this as a career, odds on you're going to need to pass an interview and your body language, so your facial expressions, your eye contact, these are all going to be crucial steps in you successfully passing that interview. What else have we got? Gestures. So what we sort of do with our hands primarily and now some questions can be quite nice and friendly, like a wave and some are, how should we say, slightly more inappropriate and occasionally a little bit rude? And not always the best thing to do in public. So we've got this wide variety of different gestures that we do make that do have different meanings but do send a very, very clear message to people. We've also got posture and that posture is about how you're sat. So if you look around your colleagues at the moment, you may see somebody who is slumped down in the chair. Do they look enthusiastic? Do they look bothered? How much effort do you think they're actually putting into their job at this moment in time? And then we've got somebody else who's sitting upright, maybe leaning forward a little bit. That little leaning forward implies enthusiasm and focus. You can tell a lot from somebody's posture. If you're in doubt on this one, I want you to think about when you walked through the door of your home and you see your nearest and dearest not there. You don't have to see the face, you can often tell whether they're in a good mood or a bad mood from how they're sat. And mannerisms. Now mannerisms are a little bit different because mannerisms tend to be almost unique to the individual, so the interpretation that goes along with mannerisms tends to only work if you actually know the person and you're used to putting that sort of, almost subconscious message together about what they're trying to tell you. But again, it's important to be aware that our mannerisms tell somebody else an awful lot about us. I always think when we talk about nonverbal communication the phrase, a picture tells a thousand words, really does apply because every second that we are going through life, we are showing somebody a picture and we are sending them a message. What interpretation they put on it though can vary, so it's so important that you are conscious what you're doing at every given moment. Now let's have a little look at verbal communication and verbal communication isn't really just about talking; it's really about using sound and what sort of sound can vary. So obviously, it does include speaking. Yes, how can it not? But it also includes noises so sighs, moans, grunts, laughter. If you are raising an eyebrow at this, I want you to think about when you've said something and you hear somebody _____. It's such an annoying noise. It gets you back _____. And then what about when you hear somebody else giggle? Giggling is a noise, but giggling tells you that they found it funny, that they're happy. So again, we've had a message sent through and received. And then we have written communication. Now as it says on the slide, it's very simply, it's words that are written down and it can come in a variety of different formats, so we can have letters. We still get letters, we still send letters, admittedly not as much as we used to, but they are still there. We also send emails. I think in the work environment emails have become a much more common form of communication and it's quicker, it's easier, it's instantaneous. The actual contents between letters and emails though doesn't really vary; it's just the method in which we send that message. And then we have text messages. Now if you're like me, I imagine you send an awful lot of text messages. I know it's hard primarily to communicate with my friends. I have a massive issue with text speak though. It really, really annoys me and half the time I find myself having to hop on the internet to try and work out what on earth somebody's actually trying to say. So I think text speak is a great way of saying, we're sending a message, but we're making an assumption that the other person knows what that abbreviation actually stands for and that in itself can be dangerous. Personally, I think text speak is the worst thing that ever happened to the English language; however, I'm fully aware that my opinion counts for nothing on this, but I do want you to think in a work environment, is it really appropriate to use text speak? Are you sure the other person will understand your message? And we've got code. Now depending in the company you work for, it depends on whether you're knowing and understanding computer code is going to be relevant or not and I think that we have to accept that if both parties understand the code then yes, it's a clear form of communication. We've also got notes. Now you may have to update systems. You may have to pass on notes to colleagues, so it's really important that the recipient understands what it is you're trying to say. However, if you're just making a personal note, you can almost develop your own language; it doesn't matter whether the other person understands or not. The only person who needs to understand is you. Our last one we've included is graffiti. Now I would really, really hope that this does not apply in your work environment, but if we were to think generally in terms of written communication then we all know that graffiti tends to be tagged. A tag is a way of saying, I am here or I was here, so arguably it is still actually a form of written communication. Let's have a little quick look at some communication theories. Now there are an awful lot of communication theories out there and we're not here today to say this theory is better than another or this one is right or this one is wrong. If you're interested in the theory behind, do some research and see what you think. Now a few examples of different communication theories include Mehrabian's theory, Berlos's SMCR model of communication, and the Shannon-Weaver mathematical model. Now perhaps with this we're just going to have a very, very quick look at Mehrabian's therapy as it is quite well known. It's also quite often misunderstood. Now the common interpretation of this theory is that people communicate in three ways in a face-to-face situation and these ways are body language and it's been allocated a weight of 55%. So what it's saying is, you know, in any face-to-face communication situation body language is worth, yes, 55% of how we communicate. It's then followed by tone of voice. Now tone of voice is the emotion in your voice and that has been allocated a percentage of 38%. And the final category is the words we use, and that quite surprisingly has only been allocated 7%. Now if we're looking at this a little bit more closely, the actual theory is quite different because the theory was based around two studies that were done in 1967 and the studies themselves focused on the feelings and attitudes in the context of words versus nonverbal clues. Now what that means is the research was conducted in a very, very specific environment and it was two different lots of research and they brought the results together; they merged the results. So it is questionable how accurate this is as a theory in any environment outside those specific scientific requirements almost, one might say. Now we would say that you cannot apply the theory carte blanch to all face-to-face communication situations, just because the research isn't there. The science isn't there to back it up and say, yes, this applies in every single situation. However, that said, we all know from how life works that these three things are quite important and they do have a big impact, so we did a little bit of playing around and we're not allocating percentages to this; we haven't got the backup to do this. That would require a crazy amount of research, but we can say that it's quite clear that our body language, how we speak, the words we use, all play a major part in face- to-face communications, but they are important. Each one has an impact on how effective our message actually is, so I think it's fair to say that if we don't get the first right, so we don't get the body language right, if we don't get the tone of voice right, no one listens to a word we say. Now the problem we've got on the telephone is they can't see you; you can't see them. So on the telephone or when using the telephone the key things have to be tone of voice and words. So it's important that you realize that the emphasis again has to be right. If you don't get the tone of voice is right, your message is going to get distorted. Now that said, body language can still play a part because what we do with our body language whilst on the phone does affect how we sound. So we're not saying it's completely irrelevant, but it's nowhere near as important as when we're in that face-to-face situation.

  16. Why Does Communication Matter? - Why does communication matter? Is it really that important? Let's have a look and see. Well, if you think back to our earlier definition, we said that communication is a means of successfully passing on information from one person to another. We also want to remind you of one of the accurate perceptions from our perceptions module and that was that you are there to help. It is your primary purpose. That is why you're employed on a helpdesk. So things seem quite logical, don't they? So let's take it a step further because if we think about it, that actually leads to a question. That question is, if you are not able to successfully pass information to the customer and vice versa then how can you meet your primary purpose? Really? How can you help the customer? How can you actually do your job if you have not understood the communication from the customer and they have not understood your communication to them? So it becomes quite obvious that communication is vital. Now if we take it another step further we can say that the successful passing of information is key to all; the call being a success, you actually helping the customer, and you providing a good level of customer service. You're not in a role where you get to pick and choose which bits you want to work or which bits you want to apply. All three of those things have to happen if you are going to help the customer, if you are going to do your job. So good communication skills are probably one of the most important skills you will need to be a success in this role. However, thinking about it, we'd actually quite like to revise that statement and maybe change it to good communication skills are probably one of the most important skills you will need to be a success, full stop. It's not just about this role. Communication skills are key to being a success in life, whether you're talking about friends, family, colleagues, whether you're ambitious and want a promotion, or just thinking about getting along with people. If you cannot communicate clearly and effectively then you will get nowhere.

  17. Controllable Factors - Controllable factors. What can we do to control the impact of our communication? Well, there are four main things that we do have control over. That is the pitch, the pace, the tone, and the volume and these categories all refer to how we actually speak and we'll have a look at each one of these in a little bit of detail. So the first one we're going to look at is pitch. Now put simply, pitch is how deep or high your voice is. So I'm going to re-read this sentence and I'm going to alter my pitch and we're going to try for deep first. So, pitch is put simply how deep or high your voice is. Now let's contrast it with high. Pitch is put simply how deep or high your voice is. Now as you can see from that example, it's pretty difficult to significantly alter your pitch without sounding like a complete and utter idiot. So pitch is a tricky one. We can control our pitch but we can't actually dramatically alter it without sounding a bit stupid. The next one is going to be pace and pace refers to the speed at which you talk and we all have a natural pace which we tend to use and that varies person to person. Now if I slow that sentence down and go pace refers to the speed at which you talk or speed it up and go pitch refers to the speed at which you talk. Again, if you take it to an extreme, it doesn't work, but you can actually change your pace quite a bit without sounding silly and it can be quite useful to alter your patch to match the person's pace that you're speaking to. It allows people to relate to each other a little bit better. Now the next one is going to be tone and tone is the emotion in your voice and it's that which is so, so vital because people can tell whether you're happy and they can tell whether you're sad just from how you speak and we can actually play around with tone quite a lot. The point I'll maybe make here is that you are going to be employed or you are employed in what is actually a customer service environment. This means you have a moral obligation to sound happy. You are employed to sound happy so therefore regardless of what is going off in your home life, because let's be honest, the customer does not care, you have to sound enthusiastic and friendly so you are going to have to become adept at altering the tone of your voice. And our last category was volume and volume is, we're talking about how quiet or loud your voice is. So again, if we look at this again, if I go, when discussing volume we are talking about how quiet or loud your voice is, I imagine you were struggling to hear me then. Let's go to the other extreme. When discussing volume, we are talking about how quiet or loud your voice is! I hope you're awake now, by the way. And again, going to an extreme, it doesn't work, but in a call center, talking to somebody on the phone, you do have to manipulate your volume. There may be lots of background noise. It may be that the customer is struggling to hear you. It may be you're struggling to hear the customer. So you need to be able to alter your volume without necessarily whispering and without necessarily shouting. Now as we mentioned earlier, despite the fact that you can't see each other, body language is still important. Some body language examples which can affect how you sound actually include smiling. Now we've mentioned smiling several times, so you might think, oh god, I'm fed up with hearing about smiling. If I'm being honest, I don't care. Smiling is probably one of the most important things you need to do when using the telephone to communicate with somebody else because it makes you sound friendlier and we all want to speak to somebody who is friendly. The other thing that is important is standing. Now you may think, well why should I stand? What difference does that make? Well actually, if you stand up, it relaxes your diaphragm and if it relaxes your diaphragm your voice becomes a little bit higher so it actually has an impact on your pitch and that again can make you sound friendlier. And the last bit of body language we've got here is gestures. You're thinking, well they can't see me, why should this matter? Well the same applies to the standing and smiling, to be honest, but a lot of people, whether we're talking an IT helpdesk environment or sales environment or customer service environment, a lot of people in a call center find that by standing, by using gestures, by basically using the normal body language they would in a face-to-face situation, are able to actually have an effect on how their voice sounds. It has an impact on the message that the customer is getting. It may only be a subtle impact, but it's actually very, very effective.

  18. Non-controllable Factors - Non-controllable factors. What is beyond our control? Well, perhaps the most important thing to do first is to look at what we actually mean by non-controllable factors. Now a non-controllable factor is also known as a barrier, so things which might occur, things which are out of your immediate control. They'll have an effect on the success of your communication by telephone. Let's have a look at a few examples. Now the first one we've got is background noise and background noise can be a whole variety of different things, but when there's too much background noise it can be difficult to hear the other person speak. It can also be difficult for the other person to actually hear what you're saying and the background can be anything from colleagues walking past having a slightly loud conversation, to somebody knocking a drink over and shouting, or paper falling off a cabinet. It can be all sorts of things. It can just be the general chatter that exists in this sort of environment and there's not an awful lot you can actually do for that. If it's perhaps somebody who's standing behind you having a loud conversation, then personally, I see nothing wrong with asking the customer if you mind you putting them on hold for a moment and then turning round and asking your colleagues politely to move away. What else have we got? Poor quality/faulty telephone lines. It's not ideal but unfortunately does happen. Now the fault might be on your line that you're using or it might be from the customer's end. If you suspect the fault is at your end, you need to let your supervisor or your manager know ASAP so they can get it fixed. If it's at the customer's end, there's not a lot you can do about it. Perhaps the best thing you can do is be open with the customer that you are struggling to hear them. Faulty headsets or equipment. It happens, let's be realistic. Headsets to not last forever, they do eventually break down, but you work in a call center. There will be spare headsets so if you suspect there is a fault with yours, don't sit back and just go, oh well, never mind. Be proactive. Speak to your manager. Speak to your supervisor. Ask them to give you a new headset. System failures. It does happen, unfortunately. Now depending on the conversation you're having with the customer, it may be that the most appropriate thing to do is ask if you can call them back when the system is back up and running. That might not be applicable though as a solution, in which case be honest with the customer, apologize. If you keep them in the loop you have a better chance of maintaining the customer service throughout the call. What else do we have? You don't speak the same first language as the customer. If you can't communicate clearly it is going to be very difficult for you to actually maintain the quality of the call. We have talked about this in our language module quite a bit. One solution that may or may not be applicable depending on the rules of the company you work for, might be to ask if a colleague speaks the same first language as the customer and get them to take over the call. That will very much depend though on perhaps your quality departments and how they work. If you have a quality department that listens to the calls and marks the quality of the calls, then they need to understand the language in which the call is occurring to be able to do so, so that can sometimes make that not a practical suggestion. The best thing to do is if in doubt, ask. Ask your manager, ask your supervisor. Say, if this happens, am I okay to do this?

  19. Module Summary - So let's summarize this module. Well, whether your attempt at communication with your customer is successful or not will play a major part in deciding whether the call as a whole is successful. You have to have clear communication. After all, if you've not been involved in an effective process of successfully passing information on from one person to another, then how are you going to help your customer? You need to be understand what their issue is. They need to be able to understand what your proposed solution is. You need to think before you speak and not just about what you're going to say, but also, so, so importantly, how are you going to say it?

  20. Call Opening - Call Opening Introduction - Welcome to our call opening module. Let's have a look at what we're going to cover in this. We're going to look at three areas. Why the call opening matters. I mean, at the end of the day, is it really that important? We're also going to look at the manner of communication and again, thinking about, does this have much of an impact? And our final area is appropriate openings and for this bit we're actually going to do a series of short role plays to give you a bit of an understanding about the best way to actually open a call.

  21. Why the Call Opening Matters - Why the call opening matters. Is it really that important? Well, we've got the bit about first impressions and as most people know, you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you get this wrong, if you make a bad first impression, it could change the whole tenor of the call. The first few seconds of the call will set the tone for the rest of the call so it's important that those first few seconds are positive, enthusiastic, friendly, and that they make a great impression on the customer. The next area to consider is representing the business. Now as far as the customer is concerned, you are the business and as far as the business is concerned, you are their representative, so you've got both these areas to be very much aware of. You cannot get away with the customer going, oh it's nothing to do with me, or I don't know. You've got to be much more proactive. What can I do to help? And if you don't know the solution, you ask somebody.

  22. Manner of Communication - Manner of communication. Control the call with your voice. Now we have actually already talked about this in quite a bit of detail in our communication module, so this is really just a quick refresher. We just want to remind you that pitch, pace, tone, and volume are all absolutely crucial as considerations when talking to customers, to make sure that the manner of your communication is appropriate to the customer's needs.

  23. Appropriate Openings - Appropriate openings. How should you answer the phone? Well, there are two approaches really to this. There's using a script and there's not using a script. Now just for the sake of clarity, a script is a set piece of writing that has been usually given to you by the company, telling you exactly what it is they want you to say. So let's have a look at some of the advantages of using the script. Well, one benefit of using the script is that it allows the company to provide consistent service to all of its customers. Every agent will answer the phone in the same way and that continuity can be quite important in terms of ensuring that a professional and appropriate image is created of the company. So as it says there, a benefit is it sounds professional. It's a controlled way of opening the call. It also may inspire trust and that's very heavily linked into the fact that it sounds professional. We don't want to feel that we're talking to any person on the phone. We want to feel that we're talking to the right person who knows what they're doing. There are some benefits of unscripted as well and one of those is it can be a lot more natural sounding because the person is just speaking, they're not saying something by rote which is said time and time and time and time again. It also is more flexible so you can adapt it to suit the person you're speaking to a little bit. And it's more friendly because you're allowing the agents who answer the calls to be themselves, not a robot. So do we have any disadvantages of these two ways of opening the call? Well, we do. We've got, in terms of scripted, you may sound disinterested because you've said the same thing so many times and that is so easy to come through in your actual voice. It also may sound like you're reading. If you sound like you're reading, do you think you actually sound interested in what you are saying, and if you are not interested in what you're saying, why on earth should they be? And some customers do find a formal approach quite intimidating so that can sometimes make them feel a little bit uncomfortable at the beginning at the call, maybe less likely to open up. Now the disadvantages of non-scripted. We've got the fact that it can be unprofessional. The company is having to use a lot of trust here to allow each person to answer the phone the way they want and we all know that some people are better at using the right words and the right tone of voice than others so a free flowing, unscripted approach leaves a lot of room for error, which logically links into the lack of continuity of service. Who is going to say what? Should a customer be able to ring up and get one impression with one person and a different impression with another or should they be able to ring up and get, I'll say, a professional impression of everybody? So logically there is an argument there is too much freedom in using a non-scripted approach. Now what we're going to do next is we're going to go through a series of very, very short little role plays that are all around those first few seconds of the call to give you some examples of how non-scripted can sound, done badly and done well, and how scripted can sound, again done badly and done well. It is not our place to tell you that you must use a script or you shouldn't use a script. It's actually not your place to decide either. You will find that your company has a policy and they will decide whether you use a script or not, but we think it's important that you understand about them. (Ringing) Welcome to Jasper's World of IT. What's the problem? So let's look at some feedback for that call. What did we think? Well, the combination of words used and the tone of voice was extremely poor. He sounded bored, disinterested, disengaged. He didn't sound at all like he was bothered about speaking to the customer, so the conclusion is the customer will not feel valued. (Ringing) Yeah, what do you want? So the feedback for this call, let's have a think. Well, yet again, the combination of words use and tone of voice was extremely poor. He sounded angry, impatient, not at all interested. We don't even actually know what company we're talking to because he didn't even bother to say who he works for. This was awful and guess what? Yep, the customer is not going to feel valued. (Ringing) Hi yeah! How ya doin'? Bet you think it's all terrible, don't ya? We won't be that bad! We'll sort it! Ha-ha. Probably in here. Well, feedback, what do we think? Uh, not good? The tone was great, but I mean, she sounded friendly, she sounded happy, but the words were so inappropriate. It did not sound like a professional call and that kind of almost irrelevant approach is almost guaranteed to get your customer hopping mad and the call to start off on a very negative footing. So there yet again, the customer will not feel valued. (Ringing) Hello. Jasper's World of IT. Have you tried turning it on and off again? So what do we think to that one? Not a lot would be the short and sweet answer and basically, assumptions are dangerous as they are often wrong. At this point in the call, you have no idea what the problem might be so you have no idea whether turning it on and off again is actually an appropriate suggestion, let alone a solution. So I'm going with an assumption, annoy your customer. So again, the customer will not feel valued. (Ringing) Hello and welcome to Jasper's World of IT. What seems to be the problem today? So feedback for this call. Well, it was a positive and professional start to the call. The tone, the pitch, the pace, the volume were good and the words used were appropriate. Okay, because she wasn't following a script it was maybe slightly more informal than the scripted version would be, but that didn't make it a bad call. So in this instance, we're quite confident in saying the customer will feel valued. So in conclusion, we believe that a scripted introduction is generally considered less risky for the business. That's not to say that unscripted can't be both professional and appropriate as you've seen by the last role play we did, but to take an unscripted approach requires an awful lot of trust from the business and I think the other role plays that we've used do evidence quite how easily this can go badly wrong if the employees get it wrong. So let's have a look at a script. We need to think about what it should include. Well, the most obvious thing is you need to say what company you're representing so the customer knows they've come through the right business. You also need to give your name; it sounds so much more friendly and you need to sound helpful. So this is the proposed script we're going to use in the upcoming role plays. Hello, Jasper's World of It, Francis speaking. How may I help you? It's short, it's simple, but it does everything it needs to. Opening scripts do not need to be complicated. Now we're going to go through a series of role plays using this script and I think it's important that you realize that even with a script, it doesn't always mean that everything will go perfectly, so let's have a look. (Ringing) Hello, Jasper's World of IT, Sarah speaking. How may I help ya? So what do we think to that? Well, the words used were fine, she followed the script, but the tone of voice really wasn't and that obviously means that the customer will not feel valued. (Ringing) (Eating sounds) Hello, Jasper's World of It, John speaking. How can I help you? Well, what can we say? Do not eat whilst on the phone! Don't do it! I don't care how hungry you are! It is extremely unprofessional. You might think the customer can't hear you. Trust us, they can; they will not be impressed. So quite obviously, the customer will not feel valued. (Ringing) (Swallowing sounds) Hello, Jasper's World of IT, John speaking. How can I help? So another interesting call that follows a script but isn't quite how we want it to be. The thing is with drinking, it's not quite as bad as eating, but if you're not careful, like that example, you can still sound unprofessional. Now the reality is you're doing a talking job. You are going to be thirsty, you are going to have a drink next to you, but you need to try and make sure you have a sip in between calls and not be caught out by the phone ringing and the customer being on the other end because if you are, the customer will not feel valued. (Ringing) Hey, did you see what was going on down at the pub the other night with those two from across the office? Oh, I can't believe it! I mean, who would've actually thought that they would be, well, do, oh, good morning! Jasper's World of IT, Emma speaking. How may I help you? The thing with this call is it doesn't really matter that they used the script in a professional manner. The first poor impression was made when the customer overheard that private conversation. We all like to chat with our colleagues and we may sometimes talk about things that perhaps we shouldn't in the work place. If you're in a call center, it is awful easy if you're having an interesting conversation to not realize that the customer is actually on the other end of the phone and if they catch you having a private conversation, well, they're not going to feel valued. (Ringing) Hello, Jasper's World of IT, Emma speaking. How can I help you? So what do we think of this one? Well, the words used were fine; she followed the script, but the pace, oh my god, the pace was far too fast. You have to remember: pitch, pace, volume, tone. It is important that the customer understands you. Think back to our communication module. We looked at this in detail. You cannot talk ridiculously fast and actually expect to communicate clearly with your customer. If you do what Emma did in this example, the customer will not feel valued. (Ringing) Hello, Jasper's World of IT, Selma speaking. How may I help you? In this instance, a positive and professional start to the call occurred. The tone, the pitch, the pace, the volume were good and the script was followed correctly. She got it right, unlike all the previous examples. So in this instance the customer will feel valued and what you have is a professional start to the call.

  24. Module Summary - So let's summarize the module. Well, it's crucial that you appreciate that how you open the call will greatly influence the success of the rest of the call. You have a responsibility to get it right in order to help ensure that the customer has as positive an experience as possible. To achieve this you must sound professional, friendly, and bothered about the call. Good luck with your introductions.

  25. The Body of the Call - Introduction - Welcome to The Body of the Call. In this module we're going to look at three separate topics. The first one is what are you trying to achieve? You really need to have a clear idea of what you want the outcome of the call to be. Our next topic is identifying the customer's main issue. After all, if you don't know what the problem is, how can you help the customer fix it? And our last category is objection handling. For those of you who are new to the industry, you may not know what objection handling is. Do not worry. We guarantee that by the end of this module you will have a much clearer understanding.

  26. What Are You Trying to Achieve? - What are you trying to achieve? What is your priority in the call? Well, if we're being honest about it, it can be a bit of a balancing act between lots of different things that need to be considered or need to be done, so let's have a look at a few of those. Well, the first one we've got is actually about meeting your targets. You will be set targets. You will be expected to meet them. And then we have making the customer happy. After all, an unhappy customer leads to complaints and that will cause you problems. You also need to make your manager happy. After all, the manager is the person who ensures that you stay in your job. It's not good if your manager isn't happy with you. We also have solving the customer's problem, which you would think is perhaps one of the most important parts of the call. After all, it's what they're ringing up for, isn't it? And then we have manage expectations and there'll be quite a few different expectations in the call. There will be your expectations, the business' expectations, and most obviously, the customer's expectations. So what does this all mean? Are you expected to do all of these? Do you have to be continually thinking about all of these? Let's have a look. Well, the reality of this situation is unfortunately you are actually trying to do all of these things and it can actually be quite stressful, hence we originally refer to this as a bit of a balancing act. Now one of the most important things you can do if you are getting stressed, is to speak to someone. So if you are struggling to balance the different requirements of your role, then speak to your manager, see what support they can give you. After all, part of their job is to help you do your job. They are there to support, advise, and increase your performance so you may actually be quite surprised by the amount of help they can actually provide. So in light of what we've just been saying, we're going to have a look at the different expectations of the people involved in the call and we're going to start with customer expectations. Now the first one we're going to look at is that you can work miracles. Well, what do we think the reality might be of this? Unsurprisingly, no, you cannot work miracles and no one, realistically should expect you to do so. All you can do is your best to solve the customer's problem. Let's have a look at another one. The problem can be fixed. We hope so, but what is the reality? Well, unfortunately, not all problems can be fixed and that can be a difficult conversation to have with your customer, but it is still the reality. Another expectation, the problem cannot be fixed. You often will find that customers will ring up and they're ringing up because they have to, but they don't actually think you can do anything, so what is the reality? Well, the reality actually is that just because the customer thinks it cannot be fixed does not mean that that is actually the reality. After all, you're the one who works on the helpdesk, aren't you? So logically, your knowledge should be greater than the customer you are trying to help. Another one. You will do what you say you will do. I quite like this one. Let's have a look at the reality. If you say you are going to do something, then it is quite reasonable for the customer to expect you to do it. So perhaps we should say, don't make promises you can't keep. If you go down that route, that is when you will get an angry customer at the other end of the phone. And our last customer expectation: there is a quick solution and I know what some of you will already be smiling at this one because you will have encountered it and if you haven't, I pretty much guarantee you're going to at some point. So what's the reality? Well, sometimes there will be a quick solution and sometimes there will not be. Every problem is different, so perhaps the key thing to do is to make sure you keep the customer in the loop and we're back to that, don't make promises that you can't keep. And this brings us on to the IT helpdesk employee's expectations. In other words, what are your expectations? Well, the first one we've got is that every call will be the same. Hmmm, what do we think? Well, the reality is unsurprisingly, every call is different because on every call you are speaking to a different customer. So even if they are ringing up with similar problems, each call still needs to be handled in a different way. And let's have a look at this. The customer will understand your advice. That's quite a common expectation, I think, of people working helpdesks. And the reality, your advice and style will need to alter to ensure that the customer achieves understanding. Why would that be? Well, that's back to the earlier point. Every customer is different and if you think back to our language module, we've already covered this in quite a bit of detail about how much you will need to vary your approach to suit the needs of the individual customer. Our next one. If you do not hit your targets, you will be in trouble. What do we think? Well, the reality of this one is, I'm afraid a little bit painful because targets are there for a reason. If you consistently do not hit them, you may find yourself being performance managed. For those of you who do not know what that means, it is when you will be working very closely with your manager to make sure that your performance improves so that you are up to standard. If you don't achieve the expected standards, unfortunately you do usually get managed out of the business and targets are good guidance for whether somebody is actually performing in the manner that they should be. Our next one. You should be able to identify the customer's problem. Well, what do we think about this one? The reality of this one is, that is a key part of your job. I mean after all, how can you help the customer if you cannot identify their problem? And we're going to be talking about this in a little bit more detail shortly. And our last one. You can solve every problem, and I bet if you look around, we all know people whether in the workplace or in our personal lives who think they can solve everything. And the reality for this one, you can't solve every problem. You have to accept this. Well what you can do though is your best to try and solve every problem. It's about keeping your feet on the ground, being realistic about what you are actually able to do and you also need to recognize when you need to ask for help of either of a colleague or your supervisor. Personally, we think being willing and able to ask for help when you need it is one of the most important skills in any job role. And our last category of expectations is employer's expectations. So what is the business expecting you to do? Our first one, is that you won't always deliver a high level of customer service and the reality of this, unsurprisingly is this is a key part of your job. There are no excuses at all, whatsoever, for poor customer service. And our next one. You will hit your targets. Well, we've already mentioned targets so I suspect you're going to have quite a good idea of what the reality for this is actually going to be and it is that targets enable employers to assess your capabilities. They're supposed to be achievable. Hence you will be expected to hit them and we've talked about the consequences of what might happen if you don't. We've then got that your knowledge is sufficient to meet the needs of the job. Is this a realistic expectation on the part of the company? Well, let's see. Basically whilst most companies are happy to develop staff, they will still expect you to have a basic level of knowledge that enables you to perform your day to day duties. It's about being able to do your job. Don't let this put you off being willing to ask for help, though. If you are struggling, help will be provided. If you potter on in your ignorance though, you could end up in trouble and if you think you have a weak area of knowledge, then be proactive, do something about it. Go away and learn. Look it up, ask people, but don't think that nobody will notice because I'm afraid they will. What've we got next? You will follow all company policies and procedures. We like policies and procedures, those nice big documents that you often have to read. I mean, are they that important, really? Well, the reality of this is that company policies and procedures detail standards of behavior and performance and they usually form part of your contract, so whether you like them or not, you are expected to follow the policies and procedures and that is a perfectly sensible expectation on the part of your employer. And our last one; you will complete all followup actions. I would hope that this is a common sense reality that completing followup actions within set time frames is usually part of your customer service agreement/policy. So we're back to you need to be able to do what you said you're going to do, when you've said you're going to do it, and if you don't, there may be consequences.

  27. Identifying the Customer's Main Issue - And this brings us on to identifying the customer's main issue. What is the customer really trying to tell you? Well, first thing we want to look at is active listening and what active listening actually is. So we have a question. What part of the body do you listen with? We'd have a little think about this. Is it your ears? Or is it your brain? Now we would argue, particularly in terms of active listening, that it is your brain that you listen with. After all, that is the part of your body that decides what all of those noises and sounds actually mean, so with active listening, it's actually about two things. It is about actually paying attention to what the other person is saying. After all, we've all been there where somebody goes, usually a parent to be honest, but they're oh, can you do this, can you do that? And we're just going yeah, yeah, whatever, yeah. You've got no idea what the person has said, hence it's so important that you do actually pay attention. And our second part is indicating to them that you are paying attention to what they're saying. Now you might think that's a little bit strange, but if you think of a social situation where you're talking to someone and if you don't think they're listening, you start to lose confidence in what it is that you are saying and if you have a slightly twisted streak like I do, you might start chattering about fluffy, pink elephants and flying pigs and various other things, just to see whether the person actually is listening. When you're in a customer service environment it's not really a good situation to be in so the customer feel you are listening. So the approach that we use over the telephone actually differs greatly from that used in a face-to-face situation because remember, over the telephone we don't have that body language to rely on to indicate that we are paying attention. Now what this means is that by paying attention to what the customer is saying and also what they are not saying, which can be equally important, you can often identify what is really bothering them, so what is the issue that they are concerned about? And obviously this links directly back to the communication module and in particular, the tone of voice they are using. The customer's tone of voice is going to give away an awful lot about how they are feeling at that particular moment in time, which is why it is so important. This brings us on to questioning. Questioning is such an important skill. You need to be able to know when to ask the right sort of question to get the information you want out of your customer and questions can fall into different categories. The first category we're going to look at is open questions. We're going to follow that up with probing questions, and then closed questions and our last category is going to be pre-set questions. So we're going to start with having a look at open questions. And really we perhaps need to think about what is an open question? Well, with an open question you are basically handing control of the conversation over to the customer. You are encouraging them to talk, but you need to remember, just because you want them to do something doesn't mean they'll actually do it, so how much they actually say is going to be up to them. Now we've got some examples of some open questions here and what you tend to find is a common theme and how the questions start and you may pick up on this as we go through them. So our first one here we've got is, what seems to be the problem? We've then got, what actions have you already taken? What are you trying to achieve? How are you doing that? Describe the issues you are having. And you can see with each of these questions you have basically gone to the customer, talk to me. Now I mentioned that there may be some words in common and most open questions typically start in the following ways, so they will start with the use of how, what, when, why. It may also start with who and where and sometimes you may find that you will start the question using describe, tell me about. All of these are perfectly acceptable. Now when we look at open questions, we really need to think about when we should actually use them, so we've got a few suggestions here. So we would say that you should use open questions in the following situations. To gather information. To get the customer to think about what they are trying to tell you. And to help the customer feel that their issue is important and that you want to listen to them. Knowing when to use an open question is almost as challenging as thinking how to phrase it, but you will find after a period of time that it becomes instinctive. And this brings us on to our second type of question, probing questions. With a probing question, you are still encouraging the customer to talk, but you are controlling the direction of the conversation so it is a bit different to an open question, though when taken out of context, may sound a little similar. So we've got some examples. What happens after you …. When you click on ... what happens next? How often have to tried to …? You've said … happens so what occurs when you …? See, you can see with each of these questions you are leading the conversation. You are pinning the customer down to a precise piece of information they have given you and then trying to get them to expand on it. This is why they're called probing questions. So how do these questions generally start? Well, they actually often start the same way as the broader open question, e.g.: how, what, why, when, who, where, describe, tell me about. So we can see they are very similar, but the key difference as we already said, is you are linking the open part of the question to something specific. Now when should you use them. Well, you should use probing questions in the following situations. To gather further information on a specific topic. To get the customer to think about what they are trying to tell you and to be more precise. And to help the customer feel that their issue is important and that you want to listen to them. Probing questions are crucial when you are trying to get specific key information from the person you are talking to. Use them wisely and you will find you have a very successful call. And that brings us on to closed questions and perhaps the starting point is really what is a closed question? Well, with a closed question, you keep control of the conversation. Traditionally, the closed question is a question that encourages a yes or a no answer; however, many people view a closed question as any question that encourages any one-word answer. We tend to think of a closed question as being one where you are really trying to pin the person you're speaking to down, to make them make a commitment almost as to an opinion sometimes. Let's have a little look at a few examples. Well, we've got: have you tried turning it on and off again? Is it booting up normally? Has this happened before? Is anyone else in your office having the same problem? And has that fixed the problem? Now it would be pretty much impossible for us to give you a list of all the closed questions you might need in your job role, but what we can see from the examples we've given is that each one of those is trying to get the customer to say yes of now. Now depending on what answer you get, depends on whether you might then choose to go back with another open question or a probing questions, or another closed question. You're using the information you've gathered from your customer to take the conversation in quite a precise direction. Closed questions typically start in the following ways: have, has, is, does, who, could, would, may. They don't have to, but they usually do start using one of those words. When might we actually use a closed question? Well, you can use them in the following situations: To confirm the precise issues you think the customer is having. To aid clarification. To gather facts. To agree a course of action. To confirm customer satisfaction. The key thing here is that you are really pinning that customer down. You are making them tell you a very precise answer. That said, what we have to remember is you are talking to a person and you have no control over what might come out of their mouth. So if we went with an example of a closed question, do you like cabbage? One person might say, yes! Another person goes, no. And another person goes, oh, well, it really depends on what mood I'm in and how you've cooked it, you know, I mean sometimes I do, but sometimes I don't. It's quite irritating when you're after a yes or no answer, but that's human nature for you and you need to expect that to happen on occasion. This brings us on to our last set of questions, pre-set questions. Now this is very much dependent on the company you work for and your employer may have a standard list of questions that they expect you to ask on every call. They may not do though, but if they do, these questions will vary company to company so we can't realistically give you examples, but you need to recognize that if your employer is saying, you must ask these questions and then it becomes part of your job role to ask those questions whether you like them or not. Now let's move on to a slightly different topic. Issues. Well, sometimes your customer might have more than one problem that they are expecting you to fix in that one call, so what should you actually do? Let them talk? Let them tell you what they think the problems are. Use your questioning techniques to clarify exactly what is involved in each problem and this really comes back to what we've just been saying. You need to make sure you use the right question at the right time in order to gain that clarification. You need to try and identify what the customer is most annoyed about. Prioritize that issue. You often find that if somebody is worried and upset, they will give you a whole pile of information, but there's only actually maybe one bit that they are really unhappy about or worried about and you need to identify what that bit is. You need to think about which issues can be fixed whilst the customer is on the phone and which cannot. So being able to perhaps provide a customer with a quick-fix solution to one of their issues might make them more amenable about the fact that they have to have a little bit of a time delay before you're able to come up with a solution to another issue. Again, taking these things into account will improve your customer service and finally, you need to make sure that you give the customer a solution time frame if you cannot fix the issues whilst they're on the line. So it's not a case of saying, I will ring you as when I've got an answer. It needs to be a lot more precise like, I will ring you back by 5 p.m. tonight, or we will have an answer for you by the close of play tomorrow. It doesn't matter what the time frame is, but to help your customer service, you need to give the customer a time frame and then most importantly, you need to actually stick to it. And that brings us on to objection handling. What is stopping the call progressing? What can you do about it? Well, let's first have a bit of a look about what was actually meant by objection handling. So what is it? Well, traditionally objection handling is a phrase associated with sales. The reality, however, is that it can apply to any customer service situation and that includes IT helpdesks. Quite simply, an objection is something that the customer says which stops the call progressing. In other words, it is a barrier so objections really can be anything; it is something that has to be dealt with really before the call can progress in the direction you need it to. So this means that objection handling is really about how you handle the customer's barrier in order to progress the call. So there are lots of different theories about handling objections. Due to the traditional sales association, some theories may need to be modified in order to suitable for your specific customer service needs. There is no right or wrong theory to use. It's about finding a method which works for you in the circumstances that you are dealing with on that particular call. One popular theory is known as APAC and that stands for the A is acknowledge and that's the letting the customer know that you understand their issue or concern. The P stands for probe. So using question techniques to gather relevant information from the customer. We've already talked about question techniques. So this is really about deciding which is the appropriate question to use at that time and you may find you start with an open question and move on to that probing question just to really pin that issue down. Our next A stands for answer. So where possible, giving the customer an answer to their issue or concern. And our C stands for close. So checking the customer is happy and moving on. You may find in a typical call that you will handle multiple different objections. You may use the same technique throughout or you may vary it with another technique. It's really your choice, but we're looking to do is to ensure that the customer feels valued throughout the actual call and when they have given you a barrier, if that is not dealt with, they will not feel valued. Another popular objection handling technique is the "feel, felt, found" theory. Now how this works is, the feel. You can use something like, I know how you feel. So you're showing empathy and understanding. Felt becomes, many of our other customers have felt the same way, so you're letting them know that they're not alone in feeling that way. Found. They have found though that… This allows you to sort of enable them to see that you're helping them move toward the same positive solution that others have enjoyed. I think though there is a word of caution for using feel, felt, found, is that while it can work very effectively once in a call, if you use this as your primary way of handing objections, the call itself will start to sound very repetitive. If every time the customer gives you an objection or in a barrier, again the words feel, felt, found back at them each time, so it is effective but be careful how you choose to use it. So let's have a look in a bit more detail because some of the barriers that you may encounter will be emotional so not necessarily a specific issue that they've got a query over. So the emotional barriers may include anger, frustration, sarcasm, stubbornness. Others may be more practical and stem from a lack of knowledge, a lack of understanding. These barriers may have a very large impact on the effectiveness of the communication between you and your customer and if we're going to be really honest about it, it is hard sometimes to deal with an emotional barrier and if we were looking at two objection handling theories that we've discussed so far, there's an argument, a think that emotional barriers can be dealt with perhaps more effectively by the feel, felt, found model because you're acknowledging the emotion more obviously through that particular theory. Now if we move on a little bit, you may encounter some more specific objections and we've come up with a few examples, so we're moving away from the emotional front more toward things like, "I want to speak to your supervisor." To be quite honest, I've used that a few times on calls when I've had to ring call centers and I've not been happy with the response and you can get quite an interesting response from the individual on that one sometimes. "We cannot afford that." You have to remember your customer is running a business, so they're bothered about the money. "That will take too long." If we're thinking back to our expectations, people do often want a solution immediately and that may not be realistic. "Our system will not support that." That could be quite a practical barrier, not somebody not understanding or being awkward, it's just they know that particular solution will not work. "I do not understand." Well, you get that one and that's really coming back to your communication techniques and you need to think about how you're going to be able to clarify the issue for the customer. If you don't effectively handle these objections, then you may struggle to resolve the customers' issues and progress your calls. And we'll go back to what we've said many times throughout the different modules, unhappy customers lead to complaints; complaints sometimes end up questioning the security of your position. So objection handling is absolutely crucial to ensure that you have a happy customer at the end of the call. We're going to take this a step further now and we're going to look at a few role plays and we're going to use the APAC method and we're going to use the feel, felt, found, just so you've got a bit of an idea of how these can be used in practice. Now that brings us on to the first objection handling role play. I want to speak to your supervisor! I accept that you would like to speak to my supervisor. What is it that you would like to ask them that you feel you can't ask me? I just want to speak to someone that knows what they are talking about! I totally understand that you want to make sure you get the best possible advice. I've received extensive showing to ensure that I can do that for you. Let me just ask you a few more questions to establish exactly what the issue is and see what solution we can offer and then if you're not happy with my solution, I would be more than happy to pass you over to my supervisor. Okay? So let's have a bit of feedback on this. Well, the customer is clearly frustrated and angry. The agent has acknowledged the objection and has asked a probing question. She has then provided an answer and attempted to close the issue. The agent has used the APAC technique, so the acknowledgement and the probing question came on the first slide that we saw with her in. The answer in the attempting to close issue was on her second slide, and what you can hopefully see from this is how you can use the technique within a conversation. Now ideally what would happen at this point is the customer will let the agent do her job and that means we don't have to involve the supervisor. If though they're very insistent about speaking to a supervisor, sometimes in terms of customer service, you do actually need to pass them over. And that brings us on to our second role play for objection handling. Hhhhh, I'm sorry, that will just take way too long. I totally understand how you feel. Time is obviously a major factor for your business. Many of our customers have felt the same way about their own business. They have often found though that finding the right solution for their business meant that it was time well spent and so more beneficial for their business in the long run, than going with a quick-fix temporary solution. The solution we've discussed today would ensure that you don't have this problem again. Okay? So let's have some feedback. Well, the customer is clearly worried about the time impact on his business. The agent has used empathy to acknowledge the objection and then helped the customer move to a more objective place by realizing that they are not the only one who has this concern. The agent is then able to use the other customers' experiences to help the customer move towards the best solution. In this instance, the agent used the feel, felt, found technique. Like I said, it can be very, very effective if used in the right way at the right time, particularly if emotions are coming into the equation. So let's move on a little bit. Well, when you're objection handling, if you get stuck, who should you ask for help? The obvious one is your colleagues because they're going to encounter the same sort of objections and they may have come up with a great way of dealing with different ones. We think of this as sharing best practice and sharing best practice in pretty much any business model is always a good idea. Who else can you ask? Your supervisor. They should have a greater depth of knowledge and experience than you so they should be able to come up with good solutions if you are struggling. You may be surprised by the last person that we've said you should ask for help. That's actually you and this is back to that idea of being proactive about going away and looking for a solution if you are struggling. Good practice is if you get an objection that you don't feel you've dealt with particular well on a call, ask to hear the call again. Think about what was said. By playing a call back, you may, and with a bit more time on your hands, you may come up with a much better approach than what you actually used. Call recordings are incredibly useful for helping you improve your performance. Now what else should we look at? Ah! When you should ask for help. That is quite important and there are three possible times when perhaps you should do this: before the call, so that's particularly relevant if these objections you know you've been struggling with. Before just going straight on to the next call, take your time, ask somebody so if it comes up again, you know how to deal with it. During the call. As long as you do it in a professional manner, there is nothing wrong with saying to the customer, do you mind if I just put you on hold a moment because I want to check that what I'm thinking is the best solution for you, so please just bear with me. If you ask the customer about putting them on hold, they're usually absolutely fine. What you need to be careful though is that you don't then disappear off and have a 10-minute conversation with somebody and leave the customer hanging because they may think that you're actually just avoiding taking the rest of the call. And lastly, after the call. So if you know a call has not gone that well, ask somebody for a bit of help or advice or like I said, have a look at the actual call recording.

  28. Summary - So let's summarize what we've learned in this module. Well, how you handle the body of the call is vital to ensuring the success of the call. After all, this is the main part. This is all about the information the customer is giving you about their problem and this is about you coming up with a good solution. So using appropriate questions will help you establish what the customer's issue is. So you really, really need to think about your communication skills, but about your question techniques and combining the two skills together will help that call be a success. Identifying what is bothering the customer and being realistic about what you can solve and within what time frame will help ensure a positive customer relationship. So I would perhaps at this point reiterate that if a solution is going to involve a time delay, make sure you agree it with the customer and make sure you do what you said you will in that time frame. And lastly, adapting objection handling techniques will help you progress the call to a satisfactory conclusion for all parties. If you can't get past a particular barrier, whether that be a practical one or an emotional one, the call will not have a happy ending. Good luck with your calls.

  29. Closing the Call - Introduction to Closing The Call - Welcome to Closing the Call. In this module we are going to look at key questions to ask yourself and these are really the questions you need to ask before concluding the call, and we're also going to look at how to actually end the call, so what you should say, what approach you should use.

  30. Key Questions to Ask Yourself - Key questions to ask yourself. What do you need to make certain of before finishing the call? We decided to tackle this with two different flow charts because we feel there are two key questions that really have to be answered before you're able to conclude the call. So let's have a look at the first one of these. Now the first question is really what is the crux of the whole call: have you solved the customer's problem? Well, if the answer to that is yes, then you can go straight to the second question, which we'll be looking at shortly, but if the answer is no, then you need to ask yourself, have you identified the customer's problem? After all, how can you solve something if you haven't identified it? If the answer is no, then you need to use open questions to establish the issue and for that we recommend that you follow the guidance in the body of the call module, which we dealt with earlier. That will then take you back to the original question of, have you solved the customer's problem? And obviously by this stage, one would hope the answer would be yes. So if we go back to, have you identified the customer's problem, and the answer to that is yes, then that takes us on to asking, do you require extra time to solve the problem? I mean, we've already discussed this. Not all problems are a quick-fix solution. If the answer is yes, then you can arrange a callback, but if the answer is no, then you need to ask yourself do you need help to solve the problem? Remember, you are here to help the customer. If the answer to that is yes, then ask a colleague. See if they've got the knowledge that your require. And that will allow you to step back to that question of have you solved the customer's problem, and ideally, at this point the answer would then be yes. If we go back to do you need help to solve the problem though and the answer is no, then why haven't you actually done your job? If you've identified the problem, you don't require extra time, you don't need help, then very simply, do your job and that should then take you back to that original question of have you solved the customer's problem? And that brings us on to our second key question and that is, is the customer happy? Because that's crucial when you're delivering customer service, that you do make the customer happy. So let's have a look. Well, if the answer is yes, then you're in a position to basically look at closing the call, so you can make sure that you follow your reporting procedures and that you do your followup actions. You may need to apologize to the customer for the inconvenience, but that really does depend on what the problem actually was. Now if your company has a closing script, then you need to use it. If not, then thank the customer for the time, invite them to call back if they have any further issues, and you get to say goodbye at this point. Now if your answer to is the customer happy is no, well, we've got another question at this point and that's going to be, is this because they had the problem in the first place? And let's be honest. A lot of people get quite annoyed when something goes wrong and that can have quite a big effect on how they feel about having had to make the call to you originally. So if the answer there is yes, well, that's going to take us back to our reporting procedures box and I'm not going to go through that box each time we get to this stage in the call, but you need to be aware that it applies and you need to follow the actions. If the answer to whether, you know, they had the problem in the first place was no though, then you need to ask is it because they didn't like your solution? Again, we don't always want to hear what's the best way to fix it because it might be something that is going to cost us money. So if the answer to that is yes, you have actually, if it was the right solution, got to accept that there is not a lot you can actually do and that takes you back to that reporting procedure box. However, if we go back to was it because they didn't like your solution, the answer was actually no, then you have to ask is it because they didn't like your service? And if the answer to that is no, then sometimes you do just have to accept that you can't make everyone happy. You've done your best. You've done your job properly. That is all you actually can be expected to do. So again, logically, that takes us back to the reporting procedure box. If we go back to the service question and the answer to that was yes, then after the call is concluded, you need to listen to the call with your manager and you need to identify areas for improvement because how you deliver your service is a key part of whether that call is deemed a success or not. So obviously once this call has concluded, they may act to concluding it, you're going to have had to have followed those reporting procedures again and done your followup actions.

  31. Why the Call Ending Matters - How to end the call. Is it really that important? Let's have a look. Well, everybody's heard of first impressions and everybody knows that a first impression often dictates the success of the communication or the meeting that you are having. What is maybe less well known is that last impressions are equally important. How you end the call will strongly influence how the customer feels about the company you work for. Now this means that there are certain things you need to take into account and you need to try and leave the customer feeling happy, valued, and with a positive impression of the company. If you don't do this, then arguably you are not doing your job properly and the customer may, going forward, decline to use the service that you are offering. So what we really need to do is have a look at what sort of things you need to think about and really what actually constitutes an appropriate ending. We're going to look at four categories here. We're going to look at language and communication, being polite, personal versus professional, and finally use of scripts. We're only going to have a quick overview of these, but these are areas that you need to consider when you are ending a call and we're going to start with language and communication. Now in our earlier modules we have looked to both these as separate topics and gone into quite a bit of detail so this is really just a brief reminder of some of the things we've talked about. So first thing you need to do is to remember to use appropriate language. So you need to think, should I be using technical speak or not, and that depends on the actual customer's knowledge which is something that as we've mentioned in previous modules, you need to assess quite early on in the call. You also need to remember that use of colloquialisms, i.e., local phrases is not generally appropriate because the other person may not know what you're talking about. And the final thing you need to remember to think about is whether English is the customer's second language or your second language so you may need to change your phrasing to ensure that understanding actually occurs. The language you use combined with how you use your voice will be a major factor in how the customer feels when they put the phone down. So if we were thinking again about how we use our voice, we're thinking about the pitch, the pace, the volume, and the tone. All these things combine to add to the chances of the call being a success. We need to have a think about being polite. Is that that important? Well, they are the customer that you are speaking to. You can never forget this. It is your job to be polite to them regardless of the provocation. Now you might think what do we mean by that? Well, if you're new to the job, you may be in for a little bit of a shock on this because customers sometimes, I'm afraid, are really, really rude and annoying. That is the reality of life, but unlike when you were socializing with your friends, you cannot react to this. You're there to provide a service and that service involves being polite at all times. Then we need to think about personal versus professional. No unfortunately, there is such a thing as too friendly and if you're curious as to what we mean by that, well, that might be talking to somebody as though they are a friend. They're not, they're the customer. We've mentioned earlier inappropriate conversations, asking customers out, all of this kind of stuff, which some people might say, well it's just being friendly. You're in a professional environment; it's not appropriate. You have to remember that you are delivering a professional service. You also want to remember that your calls are probably recorded so that could mean that somebody is listening live to what you're saying, or somebody will be listened to a pre-recorded version and analyzing it in terms of quality. Be friendly. Be polite. But always be professional. And our final area to consider here is use of scripts. Now many companies like their agents to provide a consistent professional service to their customers, hence their insistence on agents finishing calls according to a specified script, and many companies don't ask you to and this is very much down to the business you actually work for. If they require you to use a script, you must use a script. If they do not require this though, then you need to think about what is an appropriate way to end the call? What phrases should you use? How do you leave the customer feeling that they have been treated in an appropriate manner. So let's have a look at a few little role plays, just to see what the best way of ending a call actually is. And that brings us to our first role play, one with an unscripted ending. Well, thank you very much for your help today. Whatever. I mean, let's be honest. It wasn't exactly difficult, was it? I mean, I really don't get why you couldn't have just sorted this out yourself rather than using my time. And yeah, thanks for your time. Bye. So what do we think of this call? Well, to be honest, it wasn't very good now was it? I mean, it doesn't matter whether you use words, tone of voice, or both to be rude to a customer; it is not acceptable. It can and should lead to customer complaints and it may result in your dismissal. Your job is to be polite, to offer a service. There is no excuse for being rude. If you are, well, the customer will not feel valued. And that brings us on to another role play, again with an unscripted ending. Thank you very much for that. I have to say that I'm still a bit confused by what you said. Well, I'm not being funny but I've already given you an answer so that's not really my problem; thanks for your time. Bye. (dial tone) So let's have some feedback on that. Yes, I have nothing actually. You can't do that; you cannot hang up on a customer. I mean, to be honest, hanging up on a customer is about the worst thing you can do. Generally, you can expect to lose your job. If you don't, you should consider yourself extremely lucky because if you were my employee and you hung up on a customer, I'd sack ya. And that brings on to another role play with an unscripted ending. I just want to say thank you again ever so much for your time today. Oh, you've been a star! You've been incredibly helpful and I really, really do appreciate it. Thank you, so much! It's not a problem at all. I've quite enjoyed taking this call to be honest with you. In fact, I've really, really, really, really enjoyed myself. You seem like a really, really, really friendly person and I was wondering, if you're not busy later on tonight, do you fancy going out for a drink? Well, what do we think? Uhh, no! Don't ask your customers out. Don't do that, would be a good start. You're at work, you're not in a bar. Hitting on a customer is extremely unprofessional. Do not do it. If they take it the wrong way, you could find yourself in a little bit of trouble on the sexual harassment front as well. Exercise some common sense, please. And we have another role play, again with an unscripted ending. I just want to say, thanks for your help today. I appreciate it. Not a problem. Thanks for calling. So feedback on this. Not very good on the agent's part. I mean, if the customer doesn't feel like their service is appreciated, and you make them feel uncomfortable, then they may very easily complain and then this call, the agent just sounded bored, disinterested, and really like they'd forgotten what the concept of customer service was all about. And this brings us on to our final role play for unscripted endings. Thanks for your help today. I've really appreciated it. Not a problem. I'm just glad we were able to fix your issue, so I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and thank you for your time today and again, I'd just like to apologize for the inconvenience. Have a good day. Thank you. Goodbye. So feedback, what do we think? Uh, there's nothing wrong with it. Okay, so she was not using a script, but it was still an acceptable way to end the call. Unscripted call endings can be very effective if they're done in the right manner. In this instance it was polite, it was friendly, and it was personal, but it was over familiar and that's what makes it acceptable. It's about finding the right balance. Let's have a look at a final role play, this time with a scripted ending and let's see how it sounds. Thank you for your help today. I really appreciate it. It's not a problem. Thank you for calling Jasper's World of IT and I hope you have a good day. Thank you. Goodbye. So feedback, what do we think? It was fine. He crossed that script. Okay it's not the most exciting script in the world, but it doesn't matter, it did what it was supposed to do. Using a script for call ending helps ensure that the company's standards are maintained. So in this instance, the call ending sounded polite, friendly, and professional.

  32. Summary - And that brings us on to the summary for this module. Well, let's have a look. How you close the call will leave a lasting impression of the company with the customer. Like with opening the call, you've got a responsibility to get it right in order to help ensure that the customer has as positive an experience as possible. If you're going to put it more simply, how you close the call is vital to the success of the call. Now to achieve this you must sound professional, friendly, and like you care about the call, so again we're back to thinking pitch, pace, tone, volume. These things are what give that positive impression to the customer. The end of the call represents the end of the customer journey on this occasion and will either leave the customer feeling positive and satisfied or annoyed, frustrated, and dissatisfied. Logically, this can affect future business interactions, so if you don't get it right, you are risking an awful lot.

  33. After the Call - After The Call Introduction Welcome to our final module, After the Call. So we need to consider certain things that might be relevant once you've actually put the phone down from your last customer. These are: Legal obligations. Actions and systems. And preparing for the next call.

  34. Legal Obligations - So first of all, we're going to have a look at legal obligations. What things do you need to actually be aware of? Well, part of that actually is going to depend on which country you're actually working in because we're all aware that every country has different laws that have to be abided by. Now if you're supporting customers who are based in another country, you may actually have additional legal obligations as well. The good news about this, before you start to panic, is it's not your job to work out what those legal obligations are. It's your employer's and they will be fully aware of what rules and regulations you will have to follow and they will tell you what they are. So I think the key thing to take out of this is really, put quite simply, make sure you do what you're told. Now if we wanted to go into perhaps a little bit more detail, in the U.K., which is obviously where we're based, there are two main laws which can affect the business and how it manages information. Now obviously, we appreciate that you guys are based all over the world, so we're not going to go into lots and lots of detail about legal obligations that are realistically only relevant in the U.K., but we did want to mention these two because I think it gives you a better understanding of how much these things can actually vary. Now the two main laws in the U.K. are the Freedom of Information Act, and the Data Protection Act and if we focus very briefly on the Data Protection Act, that is a legal act that's been designed by Parliament which dictates how people in the U.K. have to handle information and there are quite a few sort of different rules and obligations. An obvious one is around the confidentiality of the information. There's another one that deals with how long companies can store the information for, and it's really something that has been designed to be suitable for the U.K. So just be aware of how much these things can actually vary. Now if we expand it back out again and think more in terms of a world view, legal obligations may include that customers have the right to access any information that you hold about them, including call notes and recordings. That's certainly the case in the U.K. So if I've been speaking to a customer and I think, oh, what a complete idiot, and I write that down on a call note, there is a good chance if that customer decides, well I'm not happy with the service I've received, they may ask to access all their information. That will include my note saying, what an idiot. So you can imagine the repercussions of that are not going to be great. Also calls may have to be recorded. That may actually have an impact on how you open the call. You may have an obligation to say, I just need to let you know that this call is being recorded for security and training purposes. That phrase may sound familiar to some of you. But you might not; it depends on the country. There may be things, you know, that you have to let the customer know about, like the example I've just given with the call being recorded. There may also be legal obligations around how accurate records are kept. I suppose there's often two sides, but in view of the fact that the record is accurate in the first place, but also about how long it is kept for and there may be legal obligations around the confidentiality of the data being maintained. So it means that Fred Bloggs can't just ring up and access information about any customer because it's none of his business, and again, these are things that matter if your country's legal system says it matters. Now it's very obvious what's on this slide. If you're not sure what you should do and what you should not do, check with your manager. We're a big believe in asking your manager questions if you're stuck. If you ask, you can't get it wrong. If you guess, you could find yourself in trouble. So really, if you follow your company's policies and procedures, you will be fine. The policies and procedures will have been written to ensure you operate within the laws of the country you work in. So it's a very, very simple and straightforward process this, and goes back to what was said earlier. If you do what you're told, you will be fine. If you forget about the company policies and procedures, if you forget about the legal obligations, not only might you find yourself in trouble, but you might actually make the business in trouble and that can have very negative financial implications for all parties.

  35. Actions and Systems - So our next section, actions and systems. What things do you need to do after the call has finished? We're going to start with a quick look at emails. Now, with emails, it may be that, I suppose a customer's query that you've received may require you to take further action in order to resolve it and it may be that it's appropriate to send an email in order to achieve this. It might not be, but it may be. Remember, every call is different so every post action is potentially going to be different as well. Now when looking at sending an email there are certain things that you need to consider. So always remember the following when you're writing an email. It may be read by someone other than the addressee at some point in the future. That could be somebody within your company checking on the quality of the emails you're sending out, or unfortunately, it may be the customer's legal advisor if they think that you have given them misinformation. So that idea it could be read by somebody else is something you need to take into account in respect of how you phrase things in the email. Also, it is a professional document. That by itself places certain obligations on you; the structure of it, the words you use, using formal language and not informal. I mean, personally, I would always start an email to a customer set with dear mister, missus or miss. I certainly wouldn't be looking at starting it hi-ya! Remember, professional is key. It's also a permanent record, so you can't pretend you didn't say it. It is incredibly easy for emails to be traced, whether that be from an internal department in your company who is again gathering information or checking on things, or if it has become a very, very negative situation, for the other people involved to request it. So just be careful how you phrase things and what you put. And the other big thing that I think is one that we sometimes perhaps forget is that the other person actually needs to be able to understand your message. So you need to make sure you're using appropriate language as we discussed in our earlier language module. You also may have obligations with regard to the actual systems and creating call logs. Now many companies require their agents to update their internal systems with call outcomes and this is often viewed as vital because it provides an audit trail and can be crucial evidence in the event of a complaint. These systems will vary company to company, but they tend to be there and I think you will often find that you are updating these things. Now that said, that means there are certain obligations again, so you always need to remember the following when updating the system or creating a call log. Be accurate and succinct. In other words, keep to the point, don't waffle, and make sure the information you put down is correct. Again, it is a professional document so we need to make sure we're using the appropriate language. Like the email, it is also a permanent record and can be pulled at will by other people in the company. Other colleagues may actually need to refer to it in the future, so again, it must be easily understandable by all. I mean, for example, say you've been dealing with an ongoing issue and you've been updating the system and then unfortunately, you get run over by a bus and are off work for the next six weeks with two broken legs. Somebody's going to have to be able to pick up that call. They're going to need to understand the history. They're going to need to understand what device you have actually given. They need to understand what the next actions are supposed to be. If you haven't left a clear trail for somebody to be able to follow, then the customer service experience that that particular customer has is likely to be poor. Now moving on, managing escalations. So, we need to think, what is an escalation? Well, an escalation happens when you're basically not able to resolve and issue and you escalate it, basically to a more experienced and knowledgeable colleague. Now sometimes that your supervisor, sometimes that's the person sat next to you. Again, you will get guidance on these sort of things from your managers, but the other thing you have to remember is if you annoy the customer, or they are not happy with the information you are providing, they may actually just ask to speak to your manager. I suspect all of us who are listening to this have actually done that ourselves at some point. So it's not personal, it's more that the customer is worried or is unhappy, or maybe just has the lack of trust in the situation. So again, there are certain things we need to remember to do when escalating a call. So first one is you have to have a valid reason for escalating the call because you can't necessarily pass every single call over to your manager just because somebody is gone I want to speak to my manager! In my experience, managers will often refuse to take the call if you cannot explain why you need to escalate it. You're only going to have a short piece of time in which to summarize the call so far, because you're not going to pass the phone over to somebody else without giving them a brief explanation of what has happened so far. But if you keep the customer waiting for 5 or 10 minutes while you go into lots of detail, you're going to have an annoyed customer when you do pass them over. And if you don't transfer the call properly or use the mute button, the customer will be able to hear what you're saying about them. So if you have given into temptation and you've been a bit annoyed by the customer and you tell the person that you're passing the call to what you think of that customer, if that customer can hear you, you are going to be in trouble. And perhaps the other thing to remember is if you are sat in a busy call center and you are loudly explaining what you think of this particular customer, the customers your colleagues are speaking to may actually hear you as well, so be careful and be considerate of the situation.

  36. Preparing for the Next Call - And that brings us on to preparing for the next call. Are you actually ready? What is your mindset? Well, let's have a look. Was your previous call a good one or a bad one? Do you feel angry and frustrated or happy and enthusiastic? Do you think your customers appreciate you? Does the company appreciate you and all your hard work? These all seem like quite valid questions, don't they? And I suspect, have a massive influence on your mindset at that given moment in time, so that really does bring us on to perhaps what is the most crucial question of all. Does your next customer care? Really? You think they might? Of course, they don't. You must treat every call as a fresh opportunity to deliver a professional service. That is your job. Every customer is a new customer. Every customer is expecting a high level of customer service. If your transfer the emotions from your previous call, it will affect your professionalism and the quality of the service you deliver. You are there to do a job and you are there to do that job to a high standard with every customer you speak to. You cannot afford to carry any negative emotions through from a previous call. You cannot afford to carry any negative emotions about whether or not you're appreciated through to your next call. You need to really think about the following before answering the next call. Make sure you actually do these actions. Wipe your mind clear of the previous call. Put a smile back on your face. If you remember back to our earlier modules about communication, you'll remember why smiling is so important. You sound happier, you sound friendly and it's one of those ways of manipulating your tone of voice regardless of what you're actually feeling. You need to remember, you're the first point of contact for the new customer on the other end of the line. So from their point of view, you are the company, you are the business. So if you greet them in a negative manner or a silly manner, or an excited manner, or basically any sort of inappropriate manner, you have just ruined their impression of the company you work for. You have to treat the new call as a fresh start. You have to follow the call journey process in order to make sure that you provide that customer with the level of service they both require and expect.

  37. Your Call Journey - And that brings us onto your call journey. So let's see what our starting point is. Answer the call professionally. Every call is answered professionally. Obviously we've already talked about call opening and how to approach it, so you should already have a very clear idea of what we mean by this. Our next step, identify the customer's issue. If you don't know what their problem is, how can you resolve it? That leads us on to, obviously, resolving the customer's issue. After all, you work on a helpdesk. That is your job. And that becomes followed with closing the call professionally. Again, something else we've already talked about and then maybe a set procedure you have to use that may not be, but the key thing is that the call finishes in a professional manner. Which leads us in turn to complete all followup call actions, which will vary according to your business' processes and procedures, and also the actual call itself. There may be no need for a followup call action, or there may be quite a bit to do; it's going to depend. And then that brings us to preparing for your next call, getting your mind in the right place, having an appropriate mindset, remembering this is a new call, this is a new impression; you are speaking to a new customer, which creates an obvious link. Back to answering the call professionally. Your working day is going to follow this cycle call after call after call and if done properly, you will repeatedly have happy customers.

  38. Module Summary - And so to the summary of this module. Well, first of all, after a call has finished, you have two duties to fulfill, one to the customer you were just speaking to and one to your next customer. So your first duty is to complete all the necessary followup actions accurately and professionally. Post call actions play a major part in cementing the customer experience with the call that has just completed. We've already been through quite a wide variety of things that you may be required to do, whether that be emails, call logs, system updates, followup calls. That happens quite a bit. There's quite a few things you need to consider. Maybe you need to actually derive some of these things if it's for bringing back the customer in a week. You have got to be organized. And then your second duty, prepare your mind for your new customer. You have a duty to ensure that the best level of customer service possible is provided to your next customer. Remember, they are on a new customer journey that is unique to them and your job is to make sure that customer journey is a positive, pleasant, and professional experience that provides them with the help that that they actually require.

  39. Course Summary - And so that brings us to the end of this course. We really hope you've enjoyed it. Congratulations on finishing the course! Now you should have a good understanding of the following areas now: How perceptions can influence behavior. The importance of using the correct language. How to communicate effectively. The key considerations when opening a call. Managing the body of the call. How to close a call effectively. What you need to do after the call. We'd like to thank you for taking your time to go through this course with us. We hope you've enjoyed it and we hope you find it helpful, whether you're like, we said right at the beginning, you are looking at starting a new career on an IT helpdesk, you've just been offered a job on an IT helpdesk, or you are looking to improve your performance going forward. Either way, good luck in your role going forward and thank you.