By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training
I won’t use names, but a few years ago while presenting a customer service training program at a rather large communication company with a director who had a lot of issues with his team, hiring practices came up for discussion.
He had a lot of issues with customer service and a lot of complaints about his team. Customers were complaining.
So I said, “First, explain to me how these folks are hired? Walk me through the hiring process.”
The list of tests they gave the applicants were long and involved. The normal and obvious ones were there as well as some I’ve never heard of. All “OK” and he got a lot of the information he needed about their personality, skills and such.
When he finished how they choose someone to come on board I asked a simple question, “How do you handle their voice?”
“What do you mean,” he asked.
“I mean how do you know if they have a pleasing voice; speak proper English; can be clearly understood; and more.”
I got the deer in the headlight stare. After 45 seconds of thinking, “What should I say to Nancy?” he admitted they don’t do any voice test.
So here was a manager at of one of the largest communication companies in the world and when they hired folks to communicate with their customers they had NO VOICE TEST.
Yeah, I was shocked too.
Yet still, in today’s world, when I ask that question, if even in casual conversation, most of the folks tell me they don’t give the person applying for the job a voice test; even secretaries, sales folks, and other jobs where you hold a phone to talk.
And you wonder why we as customers get annoyed? Why we’re disappointed? Words are slurred, mispronounced, voice patterns are too fast, too slow, too nasal, too squeaky, too loud, too soft…yada, yada.
We’re not looking for Mr./Mrs. Perfection, but we should be looking for people who speak fairly proper English, talk with a speed that is easily understood, and someone who has a ‘tone’ that doesn’t sound as though they’re at a funeral.
Accents are fine – when the customer can understand them. IDEA: Get potential new hires on the PHONE to talk with you for 5 minutes. See how they respond and handle your questions on the phone. You could save yourself lots of problems.
A reminder: The face-to-face voice can be slightly, and sometime very different, than the phone voice.
Happy New Year. Love to hear from you . . . and please share!