I’d like to make it very clear at this point that a lot of these techniques and observations in the last few posts are very small stepping-stones. They are small little LEGO bricks that, when put on top of each other, put altogether and used consistently and effectively, will build to the picture of a more positive call experience for your clients and customers. If you’re thinking at this point that these techniques are very simplistic or easy, the truth is, they are. They are very simple steps. At the end of the day, it’s all these steps put together that make the difference.
If you think about it in the terms of an Olympic athlete; an Olympic athlete spends most of his or her time working on the milliseconds, the small tiny little steps that they need to take that’s the difference between the silver and gold medal. Dave Scott, a world-class athlete and 6 time iron man Triathlon winner was once asked ‘How is it that you are so good at what you do? What step is it that you take to make you the best?’ He replied by saying: “Do you wash your cottage cheese?” and the person asking the question was a little taken aback and asked him to clarify. Cottage cheese is a low-fat cheese. To begin with, there’s only a tiny amount of fat, but he took the extraordinary step of still spending the time of washing off the tiny little bit of fat that remained.
This seemingly small and overlooked thing was one of the many small steps that he took to make him more effective, make him more committed, make him a better athlete. And it was all these steps put together that he saw as the reason why he was the best. So if at this point you’re thinking that ‘I can do all these things’ or ‘I do do all these things’ that is great, but what we want to do is ensure that we do each one consistently, on every single call and every interaction with our clients. This makes the difference between a good call and a great call. It makes the difference between a silver medal and a gold medal.
By now we are smiling on the call, we are sitting up straight, we also want to affect our tone and our pitch and pace a little bit more. Pitch and pace is how quickly we talk on the call and how high or low-pitched the voice can be. Now, in a lot of instances, our natural pitch and pace is what we want to go for, but in certain instances it may be a good idea to affect your pitch and pace. We’ll talk about this again in terms of controlling the call later. But what do you think a customer hears when they hear somebody talking rapidly or high pitch at the beginning of the call? First and foremost, they may think that this person is quite young. It may be that they are nervous, that it’s their first call or they have something else on their mind. Maybe that they’re not used to dealing with challenging or professional calls, and that the nerves and adrenaline has kicked in and, as a result, they tensed up a little bit have started to talk quite quickly and with a high pitch.
The other thing a caller may hear is that the person doesn’t know what they are talking about. That they may perceive it as inexperience, they may perceive it as ‘this person is not quite sure of what they’re doing’ and they will want to deal with somebody else. They may also think that you are trying to hurry them or hustle them off the call. If you’re pace is quite quick, they may feel like ‘this person doesn’t really want to take me seriously, they just want me off the call as quickly as humanly possible’. At the same time, if our pace is quite slow and labored, the person on the other end may feel that we are not interested, that we’re being very lethargic, that we are sitting here, going through the humdrum of our day-to-day life and that we have no interest in dealing with whatever their query is. Or it may come across that this person has been there for too long and is simply just checked out.
We need to adjust our pitch and pace, if this is the case, so that we are quite natural with the customer; we are talking at a nice pace that the customer can hear, clearly, and that we can articulate clearly. Again, if your pace is quite quick, it’s very very difficult for you to get the words out clearly and customers may need you to repeat yourself. So pitch and pace is quite important. Be aware it’s very easy at the beginning to get to pitch and pace wrong. In fact the majority of trainees that I have had, even with call experience, on their first day in a new role, doing something different, their first few calls tend to have a pitch and pace that’s incorrect.
The majority will go with the energy, the over-enthusiastic, they really want to get involved with their call but adrenaline and nerves kind of kick in so they talk too rapidly, and often high-pitched. This is fine, it’s going to happen for the first few calls but don’t over-adjust. I have seen instances where someone has started their very first call, talking 90 miles an hour, the customer could barely understand because the words were coming out just as a jumbled blur and they realized they were doing it so, on their next call, they deliberately slowed themselves down to a labored pace where there was nearly a second or two pause between each and every word. Now, while for articulation this is great, it did come across a little bit like this person is half asleep, and not really interested in the issue.
Getting a balance is important as it conveys the energy level of the call across to the person at the other end, but at the same time you can adjust depending on the person you are talking to. This one is all a matter of practice and it’s no harm to take a moment to note how you deal with calls to family and friends. These calls tend to be more relaxed and therefore at a better speed. If you can replicate this your calls will come across more friendly and open to the clients.