How much of your companies business is done over the phone?
As today’s business market changes, more and more time is being spent talking to clients over the phone. Here we rely completely on our voices and how we speak. Are your Tele-staff giving out a professional image? Or are they chasing your clients away?

Often our only line of contact with a company is their call center staff.
It is interesting how much thought, money and time is spent on getting the glossy colored brochure just right. But very little attention is given to the most valuable marketing tool we have, the constant point of contact with our clients - THE CALL CENTRE STAFF. We just fill the empty seats, not paying too much attention to this recruitment. Often companies don’t even bother to train these staff members properly as staff turn over is so high in the industry. Yet we let them loose to personify our company on a call to a customer. There are several companies I will never buy from again, due to a bad experience with an incompetent call operator.

The most common complaint about call center staff is that they mumble and callers cannot understand what they are saying. South Africans in general are very lazy to open their mouths when they speak. As well as a large amount of staff have English as their second language, and their accent makes it difficult to understand what they are saying. These can easily be corrected and we can be taught to speak properly. It is difficult to feel confident that you will be efficiently helped if the voice on the other end of the line sounds mumbled and unsure. If they don’t sound like they believe what they are saying how can we!

A poor attitude towards customer service is also a huge problem. I sadly, often have to remind a service consultant that I am in fact the client not them.The right personality is important; staff must really care about the client and their needs. Don’t think that a good script will ensure successful calls. It’s not what you say that brings across the meaning but how you say it.

Here are some tips to help your call center staff:

• Use correct breathing for a good voice.
• Articulate your words to ensure crisp, clear speech.
• Neutralize your accent by using the correct English Vowel sounds. (There are 21 vowel sounds in English and many are not used in the African languages or in Afrikaans)
• Actively listen to your client.
• Ensure you have all the product knowledge you will need.
• Have a friendly, caring attitude.
• Love what you do.

With all of these steps in place our clients will be happier to conduct business with us over the phone. And we will give out the professional image we worked so hard on creating.

Delia Thompson is CEO of The Communication Academy. They run a one-day workshop nationally entitled “Professional Voice over the phone”: where all these issues and more are addressed. www.thecommunicationacademy.co.za ;
Email delia@thecommunicationacademy.co.za or call us on (012) 3455828 / (012) 345 6861. In-house workshops available.

Author's Bio: 

Delia Thompson has an ATCL and LTCL Speech tuition,from the Trinity College of LONDON. Associated to Cambridge University.
Her experience in media includes presenting a business show for SABC. She was interviewed live on World News SABC ( a six minute interview) in 2006. She is a working voice specialist for radio and has had several educational articles she authored published in the Star Newspaper in 2006.
She has been featured in several magazines over the last 10 years.

She was trained by and conducted workshops on behalf of Speakers International A training company based in LONDON.
There clients include:
MANCHESTER UNITED
The ENGLISH RUGBY TEAM
ENGLAND'S OLYMPIC TEAM
And as the Communication Academy many of the fortune 200 companies in London, have gained from her personal coaching