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Call Handling Skills: 4 Phrases to Avoid on a Phone Call

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Establishing and maintaining a personal connection with your customers is the key to any successful business. But what’s the best way to build a great relationship with your clientele? Most great business relationships begin with a phone call. With this in mind, there’s no doubt that how you answer your calls is essential.

Answering your business calls in a warm, friendly tone is important to any lasting connection with your customers. A negative phrase can easily leave your customers feeling frustrated and, worse yet, it may escalate a situation that could have otherwise been easily resolved.

So, what phrases should you be mindful of over the phone? We have put together a list of phrases that you should avoid, to help give your call handling skills a boost.

#1 I don’t know...

Right, let’s be honest, when a customer needs support, this is not the answer they want (or need) to hear. By saying, “I don’t know” what you’re really putting across to your customer is that not only is there a gap in your knowledge but also that you aren’t interested in finding them a solution. This phrase will frustrate your callers and may result in them hanging up when they know you cannot help answer their questions.

Instead, try saying, “Good question, let me find out for you”, as this tells your caller that you want to help and are going to find a solution to their problem.

#2 I am only a receptionist...

When your receptionist tells a customer that they are “only a receptionist” or a “message taking service” there is only one thing that they hear – “I don’t want to take responsibility”. Having this mentality not only devalues the important role receptionists play but also demeans the customer.

So, instead, try saying, “What I can do is escalate this to my manager and ensure that they call you back as soon as they are available. Is that okay?” This offers a real solution to their problem, in a polite and friendly manner.

#3 There’s nothing I can do...

As a customer service agent, you are bound to receive complaints or queries that are not related to your role and are out of your control. For example, a customer may need technical support or another issue that you don’t deal with.

When a customer comes to you with a query that you cannot deal with directly, instead of saying “There’s nothing I can do”, try saying:

“I’m sorry to hear this, I wish we could resolve this for you. Maybe you could try...”

“I realise your situation and I’m sorry that there isn’t more I can do to assist with this. I will...”

Even though they won’t be happy that you can’t help them, they will appreciate the suggestion of who may be able to assist them.

#3 There’s nothing I can do...

When a caller is reporting a problem, they may often talk faster than you can keep up, making it difficult for you to understand what their problem is. However, as a customer service agent, your job is to help define the problem and take steps to resolve it for them. If you don’t fully understand the situation, you simply won’t be able to help them properly.

When this happens, instead of telling the caller, “I don’t understand” try asking them specific questions to help clarify this:

“Okay, to clarify, the problem is...”

“May I ask you to be a bit more specific...”

Ask specific questions about anything that you didn’t understand and let the customer know that you are listening very carefully, so you can help find a solution as quickly as possible.

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