15 Tips On Providing Excellent Customer Experience Over The Phone

There’s a misconception that since customers now have the possibility of contacting brands instantaneously (through chatbots and social media), over-the-phone customer experiences are now outdated. Yet, a study conducted by Interactions has shown that 66% of all customer communication still comes from the phone. 

If implementing AI systems is too expensive for you and, like most small businesses, you and your team need to rely on the good old phone calls to enhance your customer’s experience, don’t worry. I’ve gathered a list of the best tips you and your team should follow to provide an excellent customer experience over the phone: 

Providing Excellent CX Tips for Business Owners or Managers: 

1. Prepare for the job 

It’s no surprise that good preparation is an essential step in any job. In over-the-phone customer service, particularly, good preparation can make or break your customer’s experience with your brand. One thing you can do to prepare for it is: 

  • Equip your company and your team: 

If you own a small business, focus on simple things such as pens, small notebooks, and archival document cases for your team to take notes and store important information and papers. 

2. Invest in quality technology

This could count as equipping your company yet I believe it deserves special attention for how impactful quality technology can be in your services.  .

By quality call center technology, I mean materials with good sound quality. Those can be either telephones or cell phones (the popular smartphones)  or computerized (call center) audio software paired headphone sets (the types that come with a microphone). 

Tip: I recommend that you go for wired headsets rather than Bluetooth or Wi-fi ones, as the latter tend to have quality problems and connection breaks that may affect the quality of the call. 

The investment you make in call center technology will determine the quality of your calls. Good quality calls are always favorable as they allow the customer to have their concerns handled in a short time and without many hurdles. So pay extra attention to whatever decisions you make in this step. 

3. Invest in over the phone customer service training

Invest in training programs for your team. There are many online, for you to choose from and which will give your agents the basis for becoming great (over the phone) customer service agents. 

Some of the online training courses that I suggest are: 

  • EdApp’s Free Call Center Customer Service Course: probably the fittest option for your team, it covers “the basics of customer service in a call center environment” (as stated in the course’s description), in only five (5) main micro lessons:  
  • Preparing for Your Calls; 
  • Voice, Tone & Etiquette; 
  • Parts of a Call; 
  • Holds & Transfers; 
  • Helping Difficult Customers. 
  • Oxford Home Study Center’s Call Center Training QLS Level 3 Course: for a paid fee – approximately four hundred (400) pounds- this course trains individuals in “essential communication skills and techniques”. If you’re lucky, you may get a discount of over a hundred (100) pounds, as the oxford home study center sometimes puts their courses on sale. 

4. Don’t forget omnichannel

Suppose one customer was having problems understanding instructions on how to solve his issue. Say his connection was poor, and he could barely hear your agent, while the latter was able to hear his name and the issue. 

By looking up his name in your system and his contact information, your agent can then go that extra mile and e-mail him the instructions even after they end the call. The efficiency will be a good surprise for your customer and may motivate him to refer you to others. 

Your focus might be on over-the-phone interactions, yet if you can blend that with other mediums and channels, it might help you provide a richer experience for your customers. Remember that the goal is always customer success. 

5. Write a basic customer service call script

A script is a great way to guide your agents through the call without necessarily being physically present. The script gives them a general idea of how to conduct most (regular) calls. It also raises the chances of your over-the-phone call experience being universal. 

Your script should include: 

  • A Greeting:  

 A greeting, followed by the agent’s name and the organization’s name. And both followed by the question, “how are you today?”. It shows that your agents are polite, and it prepares your customer to share what is concerning him. 

  • The Development: 

This is where the agent will ask the customer, “how may I help you?” and pose important questions, depending on the customer’s replies, to find out more about the subject and figure out how to solve the customer’s issue. 

  • The “Just in Case”: 

A ready sentence your agents can use or base themselves on when they need to redirect a customer, respond to a customer complaint, apologize to a customer or turn down a customer request. 

In case of redirection, for example, it can go along the following line: “Miss/Mr. (customer’s name) may I conduct you to my colleague who is a specialist in the area? He will help you solve the issue.”

  • A Goodbye: 

Usually used once the agent has handled the customers’ issue and reached the end of the call. Under these terms, it may be something like, “Is there anything else I can help you with, Miss/Mr. (customer’s name)? Thank you for calling then.

We look forward to working with you in the future.”

6. Focus on consistency

Make sure that your agents are consistent in their interactions with the customers. Teach them the importance of treating all customers equally and the importance of taking each call as if it was the first one of the day. 

Your call script will help them keep their approach to each interaction universal and standardized for the most part. Yet, it will all depend on how much your agents have internalized your company’s values and the adequate phone etiquette that your company demands – this is where team training will pay off.

Providing Excellent CX Tips For Agents: 

7. Learn how to speak

You might be thinking “I know how to speak!” but speaking in customer service, just like in public speaking, is not like talking in day-to-day conversations. 

Over the phone customer service is limited to voice interactions, lacks visual clues and the non verbal clues can easily be misinterpreted. For that reason, it’s important that if you want to become a call center agent, you develop your speaking skills, train your tone of voice and master articulation so you can clearly communicate with the customers. 

Quick-Tip: do speech therapy and speech and articulation exercises to develop your skills. 

8. Have your materials in handy

Before taking in calls, make sure you have your working gear ready, a pen, some papers, a notebook or a computer close, so you can take notes of important aspects of the conversation. 

Companies usually invest in recording call systems but even then, taking notes is a necessary practice as it saves you a lot of time and keeps you from forgetting important details. All of this helps you create a seamless experience for the customer. 

9. Master good phone etiquette 

Besides following a call script provided by your company (if they do provide one), there are some tips that can help you improve the quality of your interactions. If you internalize these, even without over-the-phone customer training, you may master the appropriate phone etiquette for the job. 

  • Start nicely:

Start the call off in a good tone by greeting your customer correctly, introducing yourself, and asking them how they are doing. 

Make sure that you are smiling when you pick up the phone and through the call, as it’s said that contributes to your performance by making you sound friendlier and happier. 

  • Be courteous:

Be polite and show respect for your customers. Ask them how you may help them. Avoid giving instructions in a “bossy” tone or manner. Don’t tell them what to do; suggest it instead and always use “please” and “thank you” when appropriate. 

Nobody likes to be treated rudely. Adopting a courteous approach will contribute to your customer’s satisfaction and will keep things from escalating when the customer calling is already upset and unhappy with the company’s services. 

  • Address them by their name: 

Once the customer has said their name, you should address them by it. It’s a way to connect with them in a more personal tone and break the ice. Yet, don’t forget your courteous manners; even when addressing them by their name, add “Mr.” or “Miss” to it to show them that you respect them. 

  • Listen:

This is one of the most important tips that I’ll give you. To truly be helpful for your customers, you need to possess an ability to actually listen to them, not with the simple intention of replying, but with the willingness to understand where they are coming from and what they are going through. 

Practice active listening to better connect with your customers and their dilemmas. Pay attention to what is said, and don’t interrupt them while they speak. 

  • Empathize with them:  

After listening to a customer and their concerns, your first response should show empathy and highlight understanding. Telling them that you’re sorry they had a poor experience with your company or product goes a long way when a customer is unhappy with their experience. 

Rather than trying to justify or defend your company or product from the customer’s complaint, you should put yourself in the customer’s shoes instead and try to understand how they feel. 

  • Repeat and reflect:

Repeat what’s been said by the customer in your own words. That shows that you understood it, and you can clarify the customer’s point. 

Reflect the customer’s emotions by mirroring them. Pay attention to the context, though, as not all emotions should be mirrored. 

You don’t want to be the annoying happy agent when your customer is clearly upset, for example. By naturally mirroring them after empathizing with their story, you can display the right amount of positivity without seeming insensitive. 

Another example would be if a customer is angry and shouting through the phone. Mirroring them then also wouldn’t be the most intelligent way to defuse the conflict. 

You must demonstrate that you’re on the same page with your customers but don’t overdo it. 

  • Ask questions:

After hearing what your customer had to say and making sure you heard it right, you should ask all the necessary questions to get more insight and clarity on the matter. This is where you clarify all the aspects that weren’t explicit but are essential to help them.

There are three main types of customer service questions that you can ask: 

  • Open questions: 

These are the types of questions that help you identify the issue quickly while being empathic with your customer.

Example: “What can we do to help you with (a certain situation)?” or “How may I help you today?”. 

  • Probing questions: 

These types are all about further exploring the customer’s answer to get closer to the real issue and to what’s indeed going on.

Example: “Just to make sure I’m not missing anything, what were you trying to do when the device started having problems?” or “What would be your ideal outcome for the situation?” 

  • Closed questions: 

These types only allow yes and no answers to confirm that you truly understood the customer and make sure that you’ve adequately addressed their concerns.

Example: “This (read e-mail address) is your email address, is that correct ?” or “We have a vacancy at 3 pm, can I book you for that time?” 

  • Apologize: 

Apologize and take responsibility in the name of the company. This shows humbleness and empathy, and it’s beneficial when dealing with angry and upset customers.

In customer service, apologies are not only reserved for when you’re wrong. Even if the customer is wrong, you should always apologize for any inconvenience they claim to have experienced with your services or your product. 

  • Go beyond the script: 

Customer service call scripts may be helpful, yet at times they will make your approach sound robotic. 

Besides, to show that you are committed to being of help to your customers, you need to go beyond the script sometimes and go that extra mile to make your customers happy. That might involve having a more personal conversation with the customer and asking questions that break the script line. 

Good examples of going beyond the script may be: 

  • Performing random acts of kindness, on clients birthday, for example; 
  • Being willing to make small talk with talkative customers, such as elders who usually like to chat, instead of going directly to the point.
  • Taking a customer’s number while you handle the issue, to contact them back once it’s solved, or to check in with them to see how it turned out after the resolution. 
  • Follow transfer and “on hold” etiquette: 

The way you handle call transfers and “holds” will impact your customer’s experience. There are a few rules that dictate the transfer and hold etiquette: 

  • Always ask for permission to put your customers on hold or when you have to transfer their call. And beyond that, wait for their response. 
  • Avoid using the word “transfer” when you ask them for permission to do it. Use “conduct” instead and emphasize the fact that you wish to conduct them to a better agent for their specific case. 
  • Make sure you contextualize the agent who will take on their case, to avoid the inconvenience of your customers having to repeat themselves.
  • Avoid silos by being connected to your teammates and colleagues across departments; this will keep the workflow from slowing down and avoid customer dissatisfaction. 
  • Don’t make your customers wait for long and if you notice that the holding time might be too extended, ask them if you can call them later. Most customers would prefer that to be put on hold for a long time. 
  • Know how to terminate calls:

Never hang up on your customers or terminate the call abruptly. Make sure all their concerns have been discussed and that there’s nothing else they would like to say or hear. Once you are clear of that, thank them for calling and politely excuse yourself, giving them the time to say goodbye before hanging up. 

10. Be positive and confident

The last thing an upset customer needs is to feel that the person who should know how to handle their issues isn’t sure that he can actually do it.

Although that might be the case, and although you shouldn’t lie to your customer, you want to make sure you transmit security and confidence to your customer until any effort has effectively been made. Show them that you will do whatever it takes to make sure the problem gets solved. 

When a customer calls your brand with a complaint, besides immediately solving it, they want to make sure that they and any other customer won’t have to deal with the issue (again) in the future. That’s why a confident and positive attitude is so important. 

Even when delivering negative news that might disappoint your customers, do it with a positive tone, with empathy. It’s incredible how being a positive person can help uplift other people. 

11. Empower your customers

Keeping your customers informed of all possible routes to a resolution, telling them of all the pros and cons of each decision, and then giving them the power of choice is how you empower your customers. 

This will result in them feeling heard and, above all, respected. All ways of satisfying them while guiding them to success. 

12. Master handling angry customers

If you are dealing with customers, you will eventually deal with angry customers. Whether they have valid reasons to be so angry or not shouldn’t be your main focus when that occurs, as that will keep you from distancing yourself from the matter and not getting your feelings involved. 

Your focus should be figuring out how to quickly defuse their anger and mastering that art so that future problems don’t escalate. 

The most valuable tip for handling angry customers that I will give you is to show that you understand them, apologize for the way they are feeling, work on finding a resolution for their issue as fast as possible and diagnose the source of it, so it doesn’t happen again. 

You can also read my article that covers some of the customer service challenges related to the customers and gives tips on dealing with different types of customers and situations. 

13. Master handling calls and walk-in customers at once

Dealing with walk-in customers, besides taking in calls, might seem hard at first, yet it can be pretty simple if you focus on two main rules: 

  • Prioritizing walk-in customers because it’s rude to be on the phone in front of them and for long periods while they wait. 
  • Not keeping over the phone customers on hold for too long, either by keeping it short with the walk-in customer, conducting either of the customers to another agent, or calling them back. 

Both rules will guarantee that none of your customers feels neglected and will help you juggle your customers effectively. 

14. Take breaks

You can easily work yourself to exhaustion in over-the-phone customer service because time usually flies when you are on the phone, especially when you’re taking one call after the other. 

For that reason, you should make a commitment with yourself to take breaks every once in a while (especially after calls with difficult and angry customers). 

Bonus tip: 

15. Keep learning 

Always strive to learn and know more about this subject as that is the key for both the company’s growth and individual growth. You can learn more by training or even staying updated about customer experience and customer service research, reading more on these themes, and experimenting with new approaches. 

Tips for Providing an Excellent Customer Experience Over The Phone

For Managers For Agents 
Prepare for the jobLearn how to speak
Invest in technologyHave your materials in handy
Invest in online training Master good phone etiquette 
Don’t forget omnichannelBe confident and confident 
Write CX* and CS** scriptEmpower your customers
Focus on consistency Handle angry customers
Handle both calls and 
Take breaks
Keep Learning 

*Customer Experience

**Customer Service 

When it comes to customer service, what matters is that you keep growing and that you understand your impact in your customer’s life.

What Does It Mean For You to Provide Excellent Customer Service Over The Phone? 

Overall, giving your customers an excellent experience over the phone is ultimately about making them feel valued by your company. 

It’s about reminding them of your company’s value in their life by having your team go out of their way to help your customers meet their goals (even after failing them initially) and ultimately satisfy them.

It means handling customers with courtesy and pleasantness, even when they come from a place of hostility. Also, making sure they understand that their good feeling is your company’s main priority. 

Being over the phone is very impactful for the customer. The human interaction between them and your agents serves as reassurance that they have indeed been heard, just as it gives your customer insight into your brand’s values by the way your agents carry themselves. 

Making an effort to guarantee that your customers have a seamless interaction with your brand has many benefits for your company. 

Benefits of Providing Excellent Customer Service Over The Phone

A positively impactful interaction with your customers can bear many good fruits for your company. 

  • Helps a company’s reputation

From one side, because by making your customers happy, you increase the chances of referring your product or services. It also prevents scrutiny through word of mouth, a common consequence of poor customer experience.  

  • Helps customer success 

An excellent customer experience (even over the phone) can be just what your customer needs to achieve their goal with your product or service. Your agents are responsible for making sure that happens. 

  • Customer attraction and retention 

If a stranger’s first interaction with your brand is remarkably positive, that might motivate them to stick to your brand. The same is valid with customer retention; whichever way the interaction between your customer and your agent goes, it can either result in them deciding to continue their relationship with your brand or terminating it for good. 

  • Practical 

Over-the-phone customer service is practical for small businesses that don’t have the staff and the means to have more complex, high-tech, expensive systems. It’s also beneficial for online-based companies which could benefit from human interactions with their customers to gain more credibility.  

  • Cheap

Over-the-phone customer service can be really cheap even when you strive for quality. Its gear doesn’t require many things, and even for those who can’t afford computerized call systems, a good phone can be a good substitute. 

Whether you have decided to adhere to over-the-phone customer service or not, it will be helpful to know what options you have to choose from, to implement it effectively. 

What Phone Systems Do Call Centers Use? 

When talking about call responses, there are two main systems that companies choose from: 

  1. Live Response

The most common way of response. It’s when the call is directly answered by an agent, collaborator, or representative within the company. In these cases, when redirection is necessary, it’s done by the agent by passing the caller to another agent. 

  1. Interactive Voice System Response or IVR 

Have you ever called a customer care or service line and were greeted by a recorded voice that gave you a series of instructions until you got your resolve or were finally directed to an agent? That’s what we call an IVR system. 

This is the system used by most corporate companies. Although seemingly modern and less time-consuming -for your agents- it has some disadvantages on the customer’s side. 

Disadvantages of IVR:

  •  It tends to be a hurdle for customers. That is especially true if they are angry and in search of a quick resolution to their situation.
  •  It doesn’t favor a seamless experience.
  •  It makes it hard for customers to solve their issues. 

To Sum It Up 

Over-the-phone customer interactions can be crucial to a business. The impact that talking to your agents may have on a customer and their vision of your brand is sometimes stronger than that of the actual product or service. 

Following these tips that I‘ve carefully gathered through research will elevate the quality of your customers’ experience, possibly build a good reputation for your brand and motivate your customers to refer as a  study by Experience Matters has shown that 77% of customers said that they would recommend a business if they had a positive experience.

The most important of all the tips is staying committed to delivering the best experience possible and motivating your agents to make the same commitment. 

Further Readings

13 Tips on How to Improve Digital Customer Experience – Grooming Thought Leaders


Emidio Amadebai

For the past 2 years, I have been working as the head of Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Finance at an international pay as you go solar home system company working in rural areas in Africa. After my previous 7 years working in B2B, IT&Telecoms industry, as a Service Delivery and Project Manager, having worked with Vodacom, Huawei, and other multinational companies. My job is to make sure we improve the lives of thousands of families, with access to electricity, utilities (radio, TV, lights), doing our very best so that they get the best-in-class customer experience, and succeed in acquiring the products for themselves.

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