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Customer Service Phone Call Etiquette: Don’t Transfer Blindly

Discover Card has some great commercials. Have you seen the one where a woman calls USA Prime Credit and asks “Peggy” to transfer her to a supervisor, only to end up back with “Peggy”?

The horror. It’s a customer’s worst nightmare!

I recently had a great chat with my colleague Mike Miller from Primo Solutions, another mystery shopping company that also provides training to the clients it serves. We talked briefly about customer service phone call etiquette. (Yes, manners do apply here, and I’m talking about beyond the script employees follow to make sure customers know how important their call is and how happy the employee is to assist them!)

RDNS Customer Service Representative practicing good customer service phone call etiquette

Image via Wikipedia

The people in your customer service call center may think it’s helpful enough just to get a customer to the right extension without dropping the call and forcing them to call back and start all over again. But it’s not.

There are a lot of things you can do to improve a customer’s call experience, but this is a big one: Don’t transfer them blindly from extension to extension. The person on the other end has sat there listening to the customer’s problem for at least a few seconds; what’s stopping them from spending another few seconds playing a very valuable game of “Operator” as they prepare to hand the issue off to the next agent?

I can guarantee you that a customer would rather be on hold for a few more seconds while an employee either explains the situation to the next person down the line or enters notes into the customer’s computer file for everyone else’s reference. That’s just good phone call etiquette.

Obviously, the best option is to have a well-designed phone system that will get customers to the right extension on the first try. (No transfers, no room for screw-ups.) But in the event of user error or a highly complex problem, put protocols like this in place to keep your customers collected and free from the frustration of being transferred blindly from extension to extension.

Don’t expect your customers to do your employees’ jobs for them. The simple gesture of passing information down the line so your customer doesn’t go hoarse explaining the same issue to every person they talk to will go a long way.