Are talkative customers clogging up the phone lines?
One of our previous posts talked about strategies you can use to talk with angry customers and turn the situation around.
Another unenviable situation you might face is when the caller just loves the sound of their own voice.
Sometimes they will meander into stories that have no relevance to the matter at hand.
Sometimes they will be down with a severe case of beating around the bush-itis.
And sometimes, they will jump from subject to subject, topic to topic- the verbal equivalent of a hopelessly tangled ball of wool.
Ending these calls are important because every minute wasted on an unproductive call is one more minute another customer is put on hold. But they being your customers, you just can’t slam down on the phone and forget about it.
Use these tips to end a call tactfully without any hurt feelings or negativity
1. Give customers some time to vent
Every customer on a long winded tirade is not a passenger on that train to Ramblingville. Sometimes, especially if they had a bad experience with your product or service they might feel the need to let off some steam.
It’s only when this goes on and on and on without any signs of stopping that you need to step in and take control of the conversation. Use your judgment and common sense to decide just when that point has been reached.
2. Be familiar with what you are supposed to troubleshoot
Some customers talk longer than they need because they are not confident that the customer service rep has understood their problem. The easiest way to take care of this sub species of talkative customers is to ask intelligent and relevant questions. This will signal to the caller that she is in the hands of an experienced professional.
This entails the rep knowing everything that is worth knowing about the product or service in question.
3. Ask questions that end in close ended answers
Always try asking questions that end in a definite answer. Even better, ask questions that end with yes and no.
This approach gives callers less opportunity to go off on a tangent and forces them to stick to business.
4. Indicate that you are working under a time limit
Conveying to your caller tactfully at the beginning of a call that you are working on a time limit keeps the conversation meaningful.
Say something along the lines of “Sir, this is not going to take more that 10 minutes but can you….”. When those 10 minutes are up and you have got what you wanted, remind them gently about not wanting to waste their time and end the call.
5. Stick to business and don’t stray into personal topics
Some callers by nature take some time to come around to business and will talk about a game or the weather. Don’t get down that fork in the road and encourage the conversation. If a customer remarks how hot the weather is, reply back along these lines “Yes John, it’s warm here too. How can I be of assistance today?”
Also, keep your eyes on the ball and be non committal about controversial topics like politics and religion.
6. Don’t shy away from cutting off callers in the middle of a conversation
Some callers talk really fast. From the moment they call, they will drown you in a torrent of words as you try futilely to join the conversation. With such callers, there is only one plan of action- listen actively, note down salient points and jump in when they pause for breath (they always will).
Take control of the conversation by asking a few intelligent questions, and if they start off again, be firm and repeat them until you get the answer. If you are polite there will be no hard feelings.
7. Repeat what the customer has said about the problem
Other customers keep on talking in circles because they are not sure whether you have understood their problem or not. The easiest way to shorten your call times with them is to give a short summary of the call, outlining the problem or the issue that they have mentioned. This tactic will get rid of a lot of miscommunication issues that plague good service delivery.
Another benefit with this repetition tactic is that the customer won’t hesitate to call you back if they remember something important that they have not mentioned in the call before.
8. Use psychology to indicate that the call is ending soon
The customer on the service line is a bit of a Chatty Cathy but so far you have navigated the minefield safely and hope to reach the end of the call unscathed. But at the crucial moment when you are just about to sign off she goes off in another direction , maybe contradicting herself. Oh shoot!
Using a derivation of the previous point deploy the “Before we hang up I want to be clear about…” line. This phrase indicates that you are nearing the end of the conversation and the caller will not feel like they have been rushed through when you finally hang up.
What are your go-to strategies for ending a long winded customer call?