When answering a customer service call, your main objective is to determine who is calling, why they are calling, and how you can assist them. Frustrated callers can make answering these questions, well…difficult. These calls can’t be avoided. So why not prepare?

Imagine returning home to a broken air conditioning unit on a ninety degree summer day spent watching a soccer game, only to realize the HVAC company has also gone home for the day. How frustrating!

This situation requires an after-hours phone call to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company. Who is going to answer that call if the office is closed?  Usually, a call like this is directed to an answering service. A telephone service representative (TSR) answers the call…and as soon as the TSR takes the call, the frustration begins spewing out.

Other scenarios that require after-hour calls, often from people in dire need: medical and veterinary clinics, home health and hospice centers, hitech support, property management, public and private utilities, etc.

When answering a call, one is unable to predict the situation or the caller’s emotions. A caller’s emotions are like a mask, and behind the mask of emotions is a person looking to be heard and offered a lending hand.

A caller’s tone of voice will almost always dictate their current state of emotion, but it does not have to dictate the direction of the phone conversation. Sure they may be frustrated and yelling into the phone, but do not fret!

At Centratel, our TSRs process urgent calls 24/7/365 — hundreds of thousands of calls every month! Here are a few of the guidelines we use for controlling the conversation and assisting the caller. These guidelines will work for you, too:

  • Be patient. Time is of the essence, but calmly and thoroughly focus on the essential details. Isolate the exact problem.
  • Show empathy. They have a reason to be anxious.
  • Keep a calm and collected tone. This comforts the caller and maintains a positive atmosphere.
  • Listen carefully. Let them speak but then take control. You are not a counselor, you are  there to take care of the caller’s problem!
  • How do you take control? Very simple: YOU ask the questions! Remember this: “In a conversation, the person asking the questions is the person in control of the conversation.”
  • Apologize when necessary: more so for the inconvenience, not an error.
  • Identify a solution!
  • Follow up at the end, summarizing what will happen next.
  • After you hang up, will there be further action later on…the next day, the next week? If so, set a reminder and actually do it!

There are some situations in life we can’t control, and stress and frustration are the result; especially when we must rely on another party to help with the resolution. As successful businesses, we must face the heat with a thoughtful mindset. Control the frustration and find a solution! Applying these simple guidelines will do just that!

Note: Centratel’s HVAC Answering Service assists hundreds of heating, ventilation and air conditioning businesses during and after-hours, throughout the United States and is, by a variety of statistics, the highest quality answering service available among the approximately 1,500 services nationwide.

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