Customer service traditionally is a hot topic in the travel industry. In today’s competitive market, few subjects have received as much attention, both in time and money, as the need to have excellent service. For many organizations, providing excellent service has become their competitive edge; it is the strategy that distinguishes one company or product from all the rest.

The long, hot summer is winding down, and fall brings back a desire to renew and revise our processes and create new routines. If your customer service needs a refresh, you can find in-depth learning in the Customer Service module of the Certified Travel Associate (CTA®) course. To learn how this program can help you reach your career goals, sign up for the The CTA– Critical Skills for Frontline Agents webinar presented on Sept. 19 at 1:00 pm (EDT).

For immediate help, read on.

One area of customer service that frequently needs attention is telephone customer care. How do you rate yours? Are you still providing the human touch, or are you finding your telephone demeanor to be robotic or even surly? It’s easy to slip into bad habits without realizing it. But it’s just as easy to start incorporating little tweaks into your phone calls and voicemails to improve your clients’ experience.

20 Simple and Practical Telephone Tips 

    • When leaving a voicemail, clearly and slowly state your name, your company’s name, your telephone number, the message, and your request for a return call if needed. If you have specific times you are available for callbacks, list them. Repeat your name and number so the listener won’t have to replay the message.
    • Keep your voicemail messages short. If a longer statement is needed, you might find email might be the better communication channel.
    • When you answer a telephone call, clearly state your name, the company’s name, and a friendly greeting offering your assistance. If you rush the greeting, the caller cannot decipher your name and is immediately put off.
    • Put a smile on your face when you answer the phone. Doing so is more effective than you may realize.
    • Ask permission before you put the caller on hold or transfer the call. Always provide your number in case the call is dropped.
    • Be courteous by saying “please” and “thank you.”
    • Use the client’s name. Be sure to pronounce it correctly. If you’re unsure of the pronunciation, just ask.
    • Explain information carefully. Put yourself in your listeners’ shoes and provide the information they need. Anticipate their questions and answer them up front.
    • Avoid jargon and technical terms, so you always are clear. If you must use a term unfamiliar to your clients, be sure to explain or define it.
    • Enunciate your words.
    • Use simple language and plain English.
    • Avoid common verbal disruptors or fillers, such as “Um,” “You know,” “Yeah,” “Uh,” and “Like.”
    • Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum while speaking on the phone.
    • Be as responsive as possible. Never say “I don’t know” without adding “But I’ll find out.”
    • Be aware of your vocal qualities. A high-pitched voice can be more pronounced and grating on the phone, so lower your pitch. Don’t speak too loud or too soft, too fast or too slow. Practice modulated speech to increase effectiveness. And don’t speak in a monotone; let your enthusiasm, concern, and interest shine through.
    • Use active listening techniques. Do that by asking questions, giving feedback, paraphrasing and confirming your clients’ comments, avoiding the tendency to daydream, minimizing distractions, not interrupting, and taking copious notes.
    • Before hanging up, summarize all discussion points and action steps.
    • End the call on a positive note and ask if there is anything else you can do. This puts a solid conclusion to the call and ensures that the client leaves feeling satisfied.
    • As in all forms of communication, strive to be clear, complete, concise, courteous, and correct.
    • Always use a positive tone. Remember: This might be your 50th call of the day with a client, but it is your client’s first call of the day with YOU. Your empathetic and kind demeanor is the essence of customer service. 

A Customer Service Secret Shopper

Part of our job is to call to check in with agents. What we are finding has been disappointing because many agents’ telephone skills have slipped over the past few months. It can happen to anyone. In truth, it happens to us. But it is never too late for all of us to do a reality check on our skills. Record your calls, if necessary, to give yourself an honest and accurate view of how you’re doing.

From time to time, it’s a good idea to examine our customer service demeanor and, if necessary, to create and maintain good habits. Doing so today will make it second nature for you tomorrow.

We’d like to hear from YOU, our students, supporters, and partners as we look ahead to 2024 and celebrate our 60th year as your Non-Profit leader in educating the travel industry.  Please take a few minutes to share your stories with us.  

Hot Tip Tuesday
Newsletter Signup