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Stuart Avis

DP World London Gateway

Learning and Development Officer

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Telephone calls lengths

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I have been asked to include in phone skills training a section on how to keep the conversation length to a minimum and how to terminate a conversation. Our client gets lots of calls from members of the public which they cannot deal with and need to get answered and dealt with quickly. I already have a course covering basic phone skills but I would very much appricaite any thoughts or exercises which I could include within the training. Thanks Stuart

3 Responses

  1. phone skills training
    Stuart,

    How about investigating the true root cause of these phone messages?
    Are you being asked to run training to cope with the symptoms of a broken system?
    This will give both the training a bad reputation as it will probably be blamed for more and more, but shorter and shorter calls and the ROI of the training will not be there.

    Are they calling to purchase something or to tell you about how good your product is or are they calling because something that they expected did not work out that way? In the latter case, cutting your already disappointed client short will not help your company in the long run, removing the causes for disappointment and thus for the clients having to call, will.

    Regards,
    Robert

  2. Phone skills
    Thanks for your thoughts Robert.

    The training is for an industry advisory body.

    They get complaints from members of the public, about the service provided by individual local authorities, but the body has no power over the local authorities and cannot deal with these complaints. There is a legal process for complaints that needs to be follwed.

    Unfortunalty the body gets a lot of these calls and is not set up to deal with calls of this nature and wants to quickly and efficiently deal with the call by advising that only the local authority can deal with the complaint without taking up lots of their time.

    In essence none of these callers are the bodies customers, however they do find that customers will call them if they have had no joy or do not want to go and complain to the local authority directly.

    Stuart

  3. phone skills
    Stuart,

    Thanks for the more detailed information. I can see your point. It looks like you have no alternative, but still, training the staff feels to me like a short term action because as soon as staff will move on, you will have to re-apply this band-aid (training) as the underlying problem has not been dealt with.

    The question here is what else can be done to stem the flood of calls before or after you jump into training?

    Communication:
    – Is the fact that this body can’t act and has no no power over the local authorities clearly been communicated to the public (e.g. Website, yellow pages, brochures, etc.)

    Information is knowledge:
    – I don’t know anything about the political sensitivity of this project, but you might think in the direction of “Yes, we do have power over these local authorities, because if we actively collect the complaints (e.g. via a website), we can publicly show which local authorities have their act together. This will probably force these local authorities to keep these complaints closer to home and deal with them in a more active way instead of letting them escalate to you. As said this is a sensitive line of thought.

    Positive deflection:
    – Instead of saying, sorry we can’t help you, you might be able to have a process in place where you can say, “Yes, I can direct you in the right way by going to the website mycomplaint.co.uk or to your local library (where you make brochures available) or call the following number where there is a prerecorded message with all the steps involved, there you will find all the information you will need like procedures, telephone numbers and other links. Other than that, there is nothing I can do for you as there is a legal requirement that you follow the steps as outlined on the website (or brochure). You might even consider transfering the callers to this prerecorded message as long as you keep your intention of wanting to help the caller.

    Think outside the box:
    I don’t want to lecture here, I just want to briefly get you out of the mindset that training is the only solution for this issue. I would like you and the other people to brainstorm other solutions because with a public that over the years is becoming less and less accepting, I predict that the flood of unwanted calls will only grow.

    Good luck,

    Robert

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Stuart Avis

Learning and Development Officer

Read more from Stuart Avis
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