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Korrespondenz auf Englisch - So wirken Kundenanrufe überzeugend

Schlagwörter: Englissch, Kundenkorrespondenz, Englisch lernen, Geschäftsenglisch

A DHL manager I know once said that she taught her delivery staff to see ‘€30,000’ printed on the forehead of each person they delivered — because that was the average value of a new customer over his or her business lifetime. And if that customer recommended DHL to one or more friends…?
It’s very important we keep our existing customers happy and at the same time attract and keep new business. A survey carried out by the Technical Research Programs Institute in the USA investigated the reasons why customers leave and found the following:

  • 1% leave because they die

  • 3% leave to buy from friends

  • 5% move away

  • 9% are attracted by competitive offers

  • 14% are dissatisfied by the quality or price of a product or service

  • 68% leave because of indifference shown by service personnel

A well-served customer is clearly an appreciating asset that needs to be nurtured and looked after properly. One key tool in that process is the telephone — especially for attracting and maintaining international customers.
Here are three tips for enhancing your customer care skills on the phone:

1. Calling for an appointment
This is often called ‘cold calling’. It might be used to follow up on a general advertising or directed mail-shot campaign, or simply to make first contact with potential customers. Cold calling requires patience, stamina, and a clearly worked-out process for the call. Second-language speakers are often nervous about these calls, but there is a simple process you can use to make cold calls easier to manage.
Usually your goal with cold calling is to get people to give you their time — either there and then over the phone, or at a later appointment.
There are three stages in any cold call:
Step 1: First words
You need to grab your listener’s attention and try to create a positive, friendly at- mosphere right from the start. This means getting your conversation partner’s name right and using it two or three times at the beginning of the call. You should always know the name of the person you are calling. Either research this beforehand or ask the switchboard of the company for help.
Step 2: Linking
Try to create a link between you and your conversation partner or between your two organizations. It’s difficult to hang up on someone when you have mutual interests, experience levels, and acquaintances. These areas are the basis of friendship, so offer and look for links.
Step 3: Awakening interest
Now you have to hook the other person’s interest to keep him or her listening. Have a clear one-line description of your company ready, along with a short summary of why you are calling. Remember that most people in these situations are tuning into an internal radio station — WIIFM — ‘What’s In It For Me?’ So have three benefits ready to help your conversation partner understand why he or she should give you more time, e.g.: ‘…so you will benefit from our long experience in this field and from the effective processes we have developed to speed up your production. You will also benefit from our well-developed and highly responsive after-sales service.’
Try to be a little different in your approach. One German salesperson I know has the ambition to make the person at the other end of the phone laugh or smile once during the conversation. He says it really helps the second time he calls because the contact remembers the positive feeling from the first call. Try the 11-minute approach: if you promise to only take up a limited but odd amount of the person’s time, it can intrigue and amuse him enough to let you continue.
One tip: Whenever anyone objects or disagrees, don’t be defensive. The most usual reasons for not talking to you are lack of time or that the person you’ve called is the wrong person. Simply say: ‘Fine. We often find people like yourself are pressed for time. When would it be convenient to call back?’ Or: ‘Fine. If you are not the right person to talk to, perhaps you could help me identify some other people you think might be right.’
This sequence often works. If you follow it, you’ll find that for every ten people you call, two will hang up, four will listen politely, and two will give you their time. A 20% hit rate is high for cold calls.

2. Be positive, personal, and perceptive
Being positive means telling customers what you can do, and not what you can’t. When you are calling to discuss shipping arrangements, don’t say ‘We can’t deliver before the end of May.’ Say instead: ‘We will be able to get these to you at the beginning of June.’ If you are discussing when to meet, don’t say ‘I can’t make it next week.’ Say instead: ‘Let’s meet in the week beginning the 24th.’ And if you are discussing prices, don’t say ‘We never give a discount of more than 3%.’ Say instead: ‘We can offer you a discount of up to 3%.’ By just looking for the positive way to express yourself, you can often turn bad news around or at least keep the relationship positive — even when the business situation is negative. Remember: people can hear a smile on the phone!
Be personal whenever you can. This is more difficult on the phone than faceto- face, but it’s still possible. Listen for opportunities to make small talk. Often, customers will signal this to you at the end of a call: ‘Thanks for your help, I can go off to the cinema tonight without worrying now.’ This is an opportunity to make small talk about films. Take it — it’s a signal from the other person that he or she wants to be friends. And don’t forget to use people’s names at the beginning and at the end of the call — even when it’s not a cold call.
Be perceptive — listen carefully to what people say. Try not to be working out your next English sentence when your customer is speaking — you may miss something important. Repeat key words to show you have understood, and summarize at regular intervals so that both sides can be sure they are still on the same wavelength. ‘So what you’re saying is….’ ‘If I’ve understood you correctly, the situation is…’ ‘Let me just summarize what we’ve agreed.’

3. Deal with complaints
When Harry S Truman was in the White House, he had a sign on his desk saying ‘The buck stops here!’ What he wanted people to know was that there was no one higher up they could go to with their difficulties and problems. He would deal with them.
At work, we have to deal with difficulties daily. Our customers or clients are not always happy with what we do or the way in which we do it. And they complain. And if they are international customers or clients, they usually complain in English and on the phone.
Here are a few guidelines for dealing with people when something has gone wrong, and some tips on the language to use on the phone at each stage:

1 ) ‘The buck stops here!’
Accept personal responsibility, because at that moment you are your company or organization for the customer.
‘Let me help you with this.’ ‘I’ll see that this is dealt with immediately.’

2 ) Admit the mistake
Don’t try to defend yourself or your organization even if you are ‘right’. If the customer feels something has gone wrong, then it has! Someone once said there are two rules for dealing with the customer:
Rule 1 – The customer is always right.
Rule 2 – If the customer is wrong, Rule 1 applies!
‘I see the difficulty here.’ ‘I see the problem.’ ‘There’s obviously been a mistake.’ ‘There must have been a misunderstanding here.’

3 ) Apologize and empathize
Make sure the customer knows you understand the inconvenience caused, and that you feel for him or her.
‘I’m very sorry about this. It must have caused you a few problems.’
‘I really do apologize. You must have been very irritated.’

4 ) Act now
Do what you can to immediately start the process of remedying things. If it is impossible to deal with it immediately, then give a clear timeframe and get agreement on it.
‘I’ll get on to this right away and I’ll get back to you in ten minutes.’
‘Our technician is out at the moment, but I’ll get him to call before twelve. Is that OK?’
‘Mr Riedle should be able to help you. Let me take you to him and explain the urgency of the situation.’

5 ) Offer recompense
A small token of compensation is often enough to satisfy a customer. It shows you value his or her custom and that you are interested in the long-term relationship.
‘Here’s a voucher for €100 you can apply to your next purchase.’
‘Naturally we’ll pay for the shipping costs.’
‘Please accept this small gift to make up for the inconvenience.’

6 ) Thank the customer
Surveys show that for every customer who complains, there are twenty-six ‘silent sufferers’. So you should be grateful for the feedback.
‘Thanks for letting us know about this.’ ‘Thank you very much for the information and your understanding.’
  • It costs five times as much to gain a new customer than to keep an old one.
  • 90% of unhappy customers will never use you again unless you address their problem.
  • Each unhappy customer tells 10–16 others.

( Statistics from the Technical Assistance Research Program – Washington )

4. Just call
It’s often easier and less time-consuming to compose an email than to ring someone up. But talking is interactive and hearing a voice is more personal. Also, a telephone call allows you to follow up on what is not said as well as what is said. So call your customers regularly, even if it seems old-fashioned. You don’t always have to have a business reason. Call to ask how the customer’s holiday was or whether his or her conference was successful, or just to ‘touch base’. Often a social call will lead to a customer expressing a need, remembering some information they want to pass on, or giving you some feedback. Every such contact helps cement your long-term relationship. British Telecom once had an advertising slogan: ‘It’s good to talk.’ Make this your own slogan for your customer care.

5. Encourage feedback
If you call your customer at regular intervals, you can also use these occasions to encourage and get feedback about the way you do business. Have five key questions ready to ask at any time you think is appropriate e.g.:
  1. Do we keep our promises and deadlines?
  2. Do we keep you informed about progress, changes, and developments?
  3. Do we solve problems openly and quickly?
  4. Do we understand your business?
  5. Are we easy to do business with?

By getting this regular feedback, you can more easily ensure your service responds well to your customer’s need.
You can also get feedback on your personal style on the phone. Ask trusted contacts, customers, and colleagues to rate your telephone skills based on certain criteria. Tip! The telephone is an excellent tool for getting immediate feedback. Just remember not to get defensive. Accept all feedback as subjective and as a tool to help you improve — and don’t forget to thank people for it!

You don’t need to be nervous when coldcalling potential customers. Follow the three-step sequence of getting your first words right, linking yourself to the receiver, and awakening his or her interest.
Think of the three ‘Ps’ — Positive, Personal, and Perceptive. Your attitude to the people you speak with is critical if you want to build good relationships over the phone.
Complaints are good news! If you deal with them correctly, you keep your customer and even strengthen his or her belief in your professionalism.
Keep in touch with customers simply for relationship reasons — and remember that phone calls are more personal than emails.
Get feedback so that you and your organization can learn and improve!

Schlagwörter: Englissch, Kundenkorrespondenz, Englisch lernen, Geschäftsenglisch

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