If you work in a call center, you already know that building a connection over the phone is key for engagement and ultimately, a smooth resolution. Building rapport with customers is an important stepping stone in fostering a positive customer experience, which can largely impact overall customer satisfaction. Sometimes a happy back-and-forth conversation comes very naturally with callers, but other times, it needs to be nurtured and encouraged. Whatever the case may be, building rapport with callers is a skill that can be practiced and improved. If you’re looking for some practical tips for improvement, keep reading.
5 ways to build rapport over the phone
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but it’s true: callers can hear the difference when you smile. Not only can it subtly change the tone of your voice, the physical act of smiling can actually lift your spirits. The next time you’re struggling to get through your day, remember: act the way you want to feel.
Practice active listening
The art of active listening isn’t difficult to master, but it does take some awareness and practice. The goal is to not only hear, but to understand. You can do this by occasionally repeating back to them what they said to you, to ensure you’re getting the whole message. Although much of active listening takes lies in physical cues and body language, you can supplement your phone conversations by subtly quipping in with “verbal nods” such as “uh-huh,” “okay,” and “ah.” This lets your caller know that you are still listening and engaged in the conversation, even though they can’t pick up on physical cues such as eye contact, head nods, and facial expressions.
Empathize with your caller
It can be easy to become frustrated and burned out as a call center agent, but one thing that keeps the best agents at the top of their game is empathy. If you can put yourself in the caller’s shoes and see the situation from their angle, it puts you in a better position to help them resolve the issue.
There will be some callers with whom the conversation flows easily and without any work on your part, but inevitably, there will also be the opposite situation. Sometimes conversation is difficult, awkward, and cold. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to have a few icebreakers ready to deploy whenever necessary. You can ask about the weather or even something as simple as “how are you today?” Try to steer clear of any controversial or potentially triggering topics.
Make it personal
If you read off of a script, try to find places to inject some personality. It will warm up what could otherwise be a robotic, cold conversation.
Just like with any other skill, building rapport over the phone is a talent you can build over time. Becoming a strong conversationalist is a life skill that will serve you well in the call center and beyond.