Ask the Coach

Below are answers to questions that have been written by visitors to the Impact Communications, Inc. web site. If you have a question for Impact Communications’ Ask the Coach please use the form on the “Contact” web page.

Q: Dear Coach, How can I stop getting impatient or huffy with people on the other end of the phone, in a service driven environment, after 10-15 telephone calls in a row? Especially when it is day after day. Thank you if you can help provide me with some practical tips. Thank you. J. B, June 2010

A: Hello J. B., Thanks for your question. You do have a difficult job and keeping an even temperament all day, call after call, is challenging. However, you are the face of the company. How you act indicates how the company values its customers. Thus, it is critical to keep from reacting emotionally. Here are some tips:

  1. Pause and take a deep breath before saying anything. Deep breathing forces the adrenalin from your bloodstream and you will calm down.
  2. Never interrupt the caller for information. When someone is upset, they need to get it out.
  3. Repeat what the customer said but neutralize it. It will show the caller, you are listening attentively. Don’t say, “So you think the company is trying to cheat you by making you pay for the upgrade.” Instead say this, “I can appreciate your concern about paying for an upgrade when you thought it would be free. Did I get that correct?”
  4. Align or acknowledge the customer’s upset, not just once but constantly throughout the call. “Yes, I am sorry that the delivery wasn’t there on the agreed date. That has to be annoying.”
  5. After your acknowledgement, pause again. Do not say, “But.” That erases what you just said and says to the caller, “you’re wrong.”
  6. Ask the caller what he/she would like to see happen to resolve this. Often, it is not all that much.
  7. If the call has been really frustrating. Do not go back on the phone. Walk around. Go get a drink. Go to the bathroom, but to not go back in cue. Your tone of voice will reveal you are annoyed.

Q: Dear Coach, I’m a Quality Assurance Coach for an outsourced call center. We work for an American company and sometimes we have an issue where the customer does not understand the Agent. Please offer some pointers for myself and other QACs that we can use to coach our Agents to have better enunciation, grammatical and general language skills so we can provide better service to our customers. Thank you. Joy – April 2010

A: Hello Joy, Thank you for your inquiry. Your issue is difficult because Americans are not very patient when they deal with call center agents. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Determine if any individuals need one on one help and hire an English speaking coach. People have difficulty with placing their tongue in the right position when enunciating certain syllables. Many individuals can’t seem to master this alone because they don’t hear the differences.
  2. Make your agents speak slowly. Sometimes the native language is spoken at a faster clip.
  3. Make sure your agents enunciate every syllable in the word and place the emphasis on the correct syllable. You can do this as a round robin game at a staff meeting and award a small prize.
  4. Write to the TopIncorrect grammar will be noticed in e-mails so this is something that does need to be tackled. There is a book called Write to the Top: Writing for Corporate Success that can help, and it is offered on Make sure agents proof their e-mails very carefully.