Verbal Communication Techniques
Some people are naturally strong communicators, while some of us have to really work at it. In the call center, most of us can learn to be better and take advantage of developing those skills so that we become very effective.
In this lesson, you’ll learn about being yourself, sounding your best, and creating a service image.
Being Yourself and Sounding Your Best
Think for a moment about the fact that you work on the phone to make your living. Acknowledge that and allow yourself to feel excited about the potential for being someone who makes his or her living through telephone-based conversations. The ability for you to manage your voice – something that you have complete control over – means that you can exercise a lot of influence in any phone call.
Some people have a phone voice (a tone that they adopt when they pick up the phone and answer it at home or at work). Your phone voice might actually sound quite different from what you might think. In addition to the qualities of your own voice, telephones and headsets can really distort your voice.
Many, if not all call centers, use some kind of one-piece headset with a built-in earpiece. Depending on the quality of that equipment, as well as the telephone lines, your voice can sound distorted and interfere with the impact of your message. Trying to sound sincere? You might come across as condescending. Trying to sound committed? You could be heard as threatening. That’s why it is so important to become aware of your voice and to make it an instrument in your toolbox, just like your keyboard, computer screen, and chair help you do your job.
Symphony of Voice
Your voice is a symphony created by the following elements.
Breath control gives your voice its power. Good breath control is a result of proper posture and good care of your physical health, particularly the lungs and diaphragm. You are not breathing effectively if you are slumped and slouching at your desk. Make it a habit to sit up straight when you talk on the telephone. You will also notice that the more physically fit you are, the better control you have over your lung capacity and the more effectively you speak.
Tone is the quality of your voice as air moves from your chest through your larynx. If you are angry or upset, surprised or excited, callers will hear it in your voice and notice it. Although you cannot eliminate negative aspects of tone completely, you can manage them with concentration and practice.
Articulation is the way that your pronounce sound by using your mouth, lips, and jaw to form words. Articulation is highly responsive to practice, so if you wish to change the way you pronounce things, practice can certainly make perfect.
There are no right and wrong rules about speech patterns. Just be aware of your accent and vocal patterns and think about how they are helping you at work. Although a regional accent may provide more appeal in some areas, for example, you have to think about whether that same accent interferes with clear communication. As our workplaces continue to diversify, and as call centers are opened in different regions to provide 24/7 or global service, the number of accents and regional variations will increase.
As well, it is not possible to speak clearly when you have something in your mouth. A call center is not somewhere that you can eat or drink and expect to work successfully at the same time. Gum, food, and smoking will all interfere with clear speech.
The Four E’s
The four E’s of an effective telephone voice are as follows.
Use your voice to vary the tone of what you say and rate to make it interesting to hear.
Use clear enunciation and master articulation. We can be casual when speaking with friends or family, dropping a final consonant like the “g” in an “ing” ending or truncating the middle letters of a word. Unfortunately, when we do that on the telephone, the sound of these shortcuts gets exaggerated. Open your mouth and speak clearly.
Your voice should be smooth and pleasant, not whining or complaining. Communicate that you are happy in your work (and a happy person overall) in order to engage your caller. Speaking in anger or being curt will put your call – and your company – in a negative light.
Your voice needs to really shine when you use the telephone as your instrument. You need to feel energy and pass that positive flow through to your callers. This means that you approach your job as if it the only thing that matters right now, and that the caller you currently have on the line is the most important caller ever. Although it sounds corny and will probably feel uncomfortable sometimes, think about the call center agents you speak to in your own life, and what it was that led you to talk to them, buy from them, or made the conversation pleasant. Inject energy and joy into your voice and work from the attitude that you are there to serve your customer, and you will be more likely to meet your targets.
A Service Image
|Service Provider||Roberts nan lewis n we have yer winsheeld hullo.|
|Caller||Uh, hello, is this the windshield shop?|
|Service Provider||Ya this iz roberts nan lewis n we have yer winsheeld how can i help you?|
|Caller||I have an appointment Saturday to replace my windshield.|
|Caller||I need to confirm the time. I cannot remember the time.|
|Service Provider||Just as e can ill transer you to someone elz.|
The service image that you promote is just as important as the service itself. In that phone call, you represent the company, and like it or not, the company pays you to promote their image. The conversation should have gone as follows:Have you ever had an experience like that, where you call a number to find out some information and then cannot even tell if you’ve reached the right number because you cannot understand a word that’s being said? To the caller, the credibility of the organization is now in question.
|Service Provider||Robertson and Lewis. We have your windshield. How can I help you?||Caller||I have an appointment on Saturday, but I cannot remember the time.|
|Service Provider||Let me pull up your record, sir. Can you please give me your telephone number?|