If you work in a customer service field that requires you to deal with customers and clients mainly through telephone communication, then there are many tips you should be aware of from the training you hopefully received about phone service. Even with knowing many of these tips, like the one about not leaving people on hold for too long without updating them, or being sure to return calls quickly, and other such dos and don’ts, poor customer service still happens. However, there are ways you may be breaking lesser known guidelines for phone service etiquette that do not always occur to you, and that is what I would like to touch on briefly.
Any company that is really concerned with providing great customer service will often have their phone staff tested unbeknownst to them. This is very similar to those in the face-to-face customer service field who occasionally get tested through the use of the “secret shopper” type scenario. Companies that are concerned about their service will hire various types of quality assurance companies to come in and examine what might be broken and in need of fixing, and so these companies will begin a series of tests looking at the normal daily routine of things.
In their field, when they perform a test, they have a check-list type form that they keep track of issues they encounter. These issues are often referred to as “dings,” which is basically an infraction committed by the employee. So when you do something wrong, you get a ding; but there are times when doing one thing wrong may actually be considered a double ding – breaching two different categories at the same time. A good example of this would be leaving the customer on hold for too long without any kind of communication. This is called “dead air” time and is bad enough, but depending on the scale and process in use, might also be classified as “not matching the caller’s pace.” If categorized as a ding in two separate fields, it is commonly called a “double ding” and is often considered to be more grievous than two separate isolated dings.
Of course, in this example, the way to resolve this is to be sure to check back with the customer at a short interval of times (usually less than two minutes) to let them know you are still awaiting an answer. This infraction is probably one of the most common ones in today’s customer service world. Especially with all of the automatic answering and routing services, you can get stuck in a hold pattern for any amount of time.
Then there are the domino dings that can be registered. This is when you cause one infraction that leads to a second one because of it. This is not the same as being registered twice for the same thing, but is being dinged twice in a row because of one main infraction. A good example of this is when someone calls in about a preceding question that isn’t resolved, and upon reviewing the case, you begin to explain to the customer how the previous representative dropped the ball, or was ignorant and did it wrong, or any other kind of disparaging remark about the way it was handled previously.
The main “ding” is for tearing down the customer’s confidence by the way you tear down another company representative (remember, to the customer, the company “is” the person they are dealing with). As a result of this first ding, you have kept the customer on the line while tearing down the co-worker, and have therefore been dinged for “not managing the length of the call” in a proper manner. So one ding, resulted in two separate unrelated ding categories.
The point is, you should always watch how and what you say and remember, you are the company when they speak to you. Do not knock others, it was a “company” error, and you are the “company” so simply apologize, take the blame if need be, and resolve to fix it quickly and without negatively affecting the customer in any additional manner.
Have you ever been through this type of quality assurance testing on the job? Share any experiences or tips you can from this experience in the comment section below.