Talkative Thursday

Let’s face it. In every crowd, there’s always that one person who can talk faster than most people’s brains can process. I know some folks like this. I’ve even been accused of it once or twice in my life. Note the sarcasm. Yet, in the same breath, I find it refreshing sometimes because these folks wear their heart on their sleeve and what you see is pretty much what you get. I’d say a vast majority of the folks that I’ve encountered who frequently do this have hearts of gold and don’t mean to get so animated but they can’t help it.

On Wednesday, I had a customer who talked my ear off. We had a great conversation but she doesn’t know when to stop talking. I had several phone calls come in and she finally decided to let me get back to work but it was only after I had the phone ringing off the hook that she understood that I couldn’t talk to her for long. Sometimes people just need someone to listen. It’s a lesson that I try not to forget but it can be exasperating when you don’t want to be rude but they may not leave you much choice.

In today’s world, it’s easy to get frustrated with those who are very talkative. I have a friend of mine who can never give you a direct answer. She’ll answer everything but the question you ask and when you finally can get her to answer you, it can feel like you just entered a never-ending talk show. Here are some things that I’ve found that help me when I deal with extremely talkative customers.

How to handle a talkative Customer on the Phone

  1. Remain in Control of the Conversation. The first step in ensuring talkative customers don’t drive up handle times is to remain in control of the conversation. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile. Remember that you are working and to have a productive work environment, you must keep conversations focused.
  2. Ask Direct Questions. This isn’t always foolproof. As I mentioned previously, I have friends who test this theory but if you ask direct questions, you force the customer to think. Most of the time when people think, they have to engage in direct answers.
  3. Politely Redirect the Caller. This doesn’t always work because there are some jobs where this isn’t feasible but if you can redirect them to a better venue, it might be a wise move.
  4. Listen Carefully. You don’t have to talk like they do. If you listen to what they are telling you, then you have a better opportunity to let that person feel that they are truly being heard.
  5. Explain Yourself Clearly. Don’t be vague in your explanations. Part of what is such a struggle for many customers is when there are vague terms in re: to purchases and other needs. There’s nothing worse than having signs up that are not clear. If there’s any room for confusion, a customer will find it.

Granted, these items will help you in dealing with customers over the phone but what happens when that person is in your office or your space and won’t be deterred?

1. Set the Tone for the Conversation

People react to different tones in various ways. The tone of your voice says a lot about how you are. If you have a strong tone of firmness, you can come across as being serious and no nonsense. That doesn’t mean you are an uncaring person. It just means you set the tone for how others will deal with you. If you have a sugary too nice tone, people tend to use that to their advantage. I’ve found that when I’m too niPeople react to different tones in various ways. The tone of your voice says a lot about how you are. If you have a strong tone of firmness, you can come across as being serious and no-nonsense. That doesn’t mean you are an uncaring person. It just means you set the tone for how others will deal with you. If you have a sugary too nice tone, people tend to use that to their advantage. I’ve found that when I’m too nice about things, people will talk my ear off and not let me get back to work without me all but having to walk away

2. Paraphrase Back What the Customer Has Said

This is important. It goes back to listening. If you paraphrase what someone says, then you are essentially saying that you want to make sure you are understanding what they are conveying to you. Misunderstandings happen all the time. Some of those misunderstandings could be prevented. Paraphrasing helps to minimize misunderstandings and maximize productivity.

3. It’s a Human-to-Human Thing

Most of the time people are just lonely. They may not be able to talk to those that they interact with or they may not have friends or family who are willing to listen. There’s a fine line in handling some of these conversations. The important thing is that we treat each other as humans. We don’t have to treat one another like a business transaction on everything. Learn how to distinguish when it’s appropriate to keep a conversation going and when it isn’t.
So let’s say that you’ve applied all these things and realized that the customer is dissatisfied with not only how you are handling things but also with the company itself. What are some of the things you can do?

Tips to avoid customer dissatisfaction

  • Be pro-active. Don’t wait until the customer complains. If your gut tells you that someone is going to complain, be sure to cover yourself with upper management. Communication is always a good thing. If you aren’t able to handle a situation and diffuse it, getting to someone who can is a good thing.
  • Be responsive. When there’s an issue, resolve it immediately. Resolving issues quickly not only is a smart business practice but it’s smart for you as well. If you get something resolved in a fairly quick manner, it won’t eat away at you.
  • Be honest. Telling customers the truth usually goes over better than lying to them. I hate being lied to by a company or a representative. I’d rather know the truth about something that will allow me to see the company as being honest and reputable rather than dishonest and untrustworthy. Most people are the same way.
  • Be realistic. Some customers have expectations that are just aren’t attainable. This is true in every facet of our lives. Recognize that you won’t always make the customer happy. Quality assurance practices are best when we recognize that not every incident is fixable.

I hope some of these tips help. After dealing with the customers I had on Wednesday, they helped me remember a few important facts. One of them is that pleasing everyone is impossible. Be true to yourself and treat others with respect, kindness, and dignity. It will make your days feel friendlier and more productive. Have fun with your job. Not every job is fun but try to make the best of what you have. A lot of folks would love to have a job. If you are blessed enough to have one, make the most of it, and keep doors open with others. Some of the best networking folks I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with have been very talkative. It was through them that I have learned and continue to learn about opportunities all around me. You never know. One of the most talkative people could be a very strong influence on your life.

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