Chatting with a client over the phone can be a fun, easy way to create a connection. But there are less opportune moments than others, and holding a less-then-present conversation won’t impress anyone.
Make your chats mean something; the next time your caller has more to say than you have time to spare, try these tips:
Plan your next move.
When your caller enters extreme chat mode, think ahead. What do you need to move your call along? If you’re a receptionist, you’re probably looking for an opportunity to gather the caller’s name or other important info before transferring them to someone with specialized knowledge and/or can further assist them. Maybe you need some specific information to address a tech support concern. Perhaps you want to ask a few intake questions to determine if a potential client is a good fit. Whatever you need from your caller, be prepared to ask for it as soon as the opportunity arises.
May I have your name?
May I have your account number?
Use those little pauses.
Long conversational pauses are a rarity with chatty callers, so keep your pause-hunting ears open. You know those teenytiny breaks you might typically use to utter a supportive mmm hmm to show you’re listening? Trade ’em in for a chance to make some conversational headway! When you find a pause, tiny or otherwise, always start by acknowledging what your caller has said. Then, ask that question you’ve been dying to ask, and keep your call a-movin’!
These are great questions, and I know one of our product specialists will be happy to answer them. I’ll connect you with a specialist now! May I have your name?
This certainly sounds like a frustrating situation! What was the date of the car accident?
I might have just the thing to solve this problem! What operating system does your Mac use?
Know how (and when) to interrupt.
If a pause is nowhere in sight, politely interrupting your caller may be the best option. A gentle interruption is especially helpful when you aren’t the ideal person to address a caller’s concerns. By politely interrupting, you spare your caller the trouble of having to repeat his or her story again:
I apologize for interrupting you — our attorney is the best person to help you, and I’d love to put you in touch with her. I’d hate for you to have to explain your situation twice! I’ll try her line for you now. May I have your name?
When a chatty caller is obviously upset, wait for that pause! While an interruption is likely to exacerbate an already foul mood, listening for an extra couple of beats can help mollify your caller’s frustration. And when that pause finally arrives, acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge — then offer assistance:
I am so sorry for this mix-up! I’ll put you in touch with a member of our shipping department. Your business is important to us, and I want to make sure this get this taken care of! May I have your account number?
If you’re the receptionist, rescue your caller from broken-recordville by relaying their full story to the appropriate party. Your once-unhappy caller will be delighted that you’ve listened diligently and want to save them time!
Above all, be nice.
You may not have time to chat at the moment, but addressing the situation with kindness and honesty will leave you and your caller feeling great:
I’m so excited for you! I’d love to hear all about this when I have a bit more time. Can I call you back in a couple of hours?
Your callers will appreciate that you want to give them your full attention, leading to more meaningful conversations!