Phone-Based Customer Service

Phone-Based Customer Service
Instructor: Jeff Toister
Released: 6/23/2020Course Details
Skills Covered
Professional Phone Skills
Customer Service
Course Link
Professional Certifications and Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
Customer service expert Jeff Toister helps customer service specialists develop the specific skills needed to help customers over the phone. Learn how to break the ice and develop rapport with the people you serve, even when you’re pressed for time. Tune out distractions and develop listening skills that are critically important to phone service. Last, learn how to express empathy, de-escalate angry callers, and stay focused throughout the day.

Learning objectives
– Developing the perfect phone greeting
– Filling dead air
– Managing holds and transfers
– Listening
– Expressing empathy
– De-escalating angry callers

Source: LinkedIN Learning

Phone service still matters

Customer interactions are more complicated – and more valuable.

We will cover three main topics

  • Building Rapport
  • Exceeding Expectations
  • Solving Problems

Understanding the phone’s unique challenges


  • Body language – can’t see you or your customers body language
  • Distractions – multi-tasking 
  • Fatigue – easy on first call to be energized but it’s a challenged on the 50th call
Build Rapport over the Phone

Develop the perfect phone greeting

Elements of a Phone Greeting

  • Greeting
  • Your name
  • Offer of assistance

Use positive body language and tone.  Body language influences our voice.  

Positive Body Language

  • Sit up straight
  • Focus on your customer
  • Smile

If you must follow a script, make a script your own.

Create personal connections

  • Use names – calling the customer by their name. Learn how to address your customers.
    • At the beginning
    • With a solution
    • At the end
  • Ask questions
  • Understand geography – keep the conversation positive.

How to fill dead air

Dead air occurs when we are entering data in the computer or waiting for the computer to load information.

  • Explain what’s going on – explain you are entering data
  • Create a personal connection
    • Ask questions
    • Comment on location
    • Gather additional information

Manage holds and transfers

How to put a customer on hold

  • Ask permission – explain why the hold is necessary
  • Check in the customer if you have put them on hold for more than 2 minutes

Avoid transfers whenever possible.

Warm Transfer

  • Transfer someone to a specific person
  • Explain the reason for the transfer
  • Give a name
  • Explain the customer’s situation to the transfer recipient

Control the call with friendliness

Call Control Techniques

  • Keep it short
  • Listen without interrupting
  • Redirect the conversation
  • Don’t take the bait – customers might bring up a topic you are passionate about.  Avoid being baited into a longer conversation.
  • Share information slowly
  • Offer to send follow-up via email
Exceed Expectations over the Phone

Tune out distractions

  • Imagine you are face to face
  • Eliminate distractions where you can
    • Store personal cell phone out of sight
    • Noise-canceling headset to reduce background noise
  • Take a break – quiet rooms

Listen over the phone


  • Distractions
  • Time pressure
  • Rambling stories
  • Accents – difficult to understand
  • Bad connections

Listening Tips

  • Imaging you are face to face
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Paraphrase what you hear
  • Take notes
  • Identify emotions

Use advanced communication techniques

Use visual techniques to communicate.  

  1. Identify visual reference.
  2. Guide the customer – send a visual over email

Deliver moments of “wow”

Understanding Customer Expectations

  • Tune out distractions
  • Listen
  • Communicate clearly

Moments of “wow”

  • Send a surprise – gift card for loyalty
  • Send a handwritten note
  • Stay until the end
  • Follow up
  • Solve their next problem

Identify opportunities to deliver a moment of “wow” to your customers and then take action.

You May Enjoy?
Jeff Toister has a short course dedicated to setting expectations.

Check this link for the course
Solve Problems over the Phone

How to express empathy

Identifying or experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another

75% of customers are frustrated after talking to a customer service rep.  Validate the customer’s feelings. 

  1. Describe the problem
  2. Describe why the customer was upset
  3. Think about when you felt the same
  4. Decide how to demonstrate your understanding


  • Listen
  • Acknowledge
  • Understand
  • Relate
  • Act

De-escalate angry calls

Understanding Angry Callers

  • Calling isn’t their first choice
  • The call itself can be frustrating
  • They may be less open to ideas
  • De-escalate your customer’s anger

De-Escalate Anger

  • Take extra time to listen
  • Apologize sincerely
  • Be on their side
    • “I’d really like to help you”
    • “Let find a solution”
  • Check your company policy on handling customers who cross a line
You May Enjoy?

Jeff Toister has a short course dedicated to Working with Upset Customers

Check this link for the course

Friendly follow-up

The friendly follow-up helps relationships.  

  • Make a call
  • Send an email
  • Send postal mail

Stay focused while you work

Emotional Contagion
“Catching” someone else’s mood

Emotional Labor
Effort it takes to display emotion

Attitude Anchors
Ways to improve your mood.  These are personal and the same technique won’t work for everyone.

Maintenance Anchors

  • Eat healthy
  • Be with friends or family
  • Work on a hobby

Repair Anchors

  • Take a walk
  • Listen to music
  • Talk to a friend

Directed Attention Fatigue

  • Distractibility
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Indecisiveness
  • Procrastination

Overcoming these challenges involve taking breaks and ensuring you have enough sleep to recuperate properly.

To experience the full benefit of this guide, I highly recommend you watch the full training session.

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