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Telefonieren auf Englisch - So gehen Sie mit verärgerten Kunden um

Schlagwörter: Telefonieren auf Englisch, Englisch Telefonieren, Englisch Telephoning, Englisch am Telefon, Telefon Englisch, Kundengespräch Englisch, Englisch schlichten, Englisch Deeskalation

The phone rings. You answer: "Good morning, Serion Services AG, Jürgen Bloch speaking. How can I help you?"

And then it comes: "Good morning. This is Andrew Simms at Melox Medical in Lancaster. We have a big problem. You sent a technician here on Friday to repair our primary centrifuge. I was out of the office. Not only is the machine still not in working order, but your technician damaged some nearby equipment. This is totally unacceptable!"

No matter what your job normally is, or what you may think your responsibilities may be, your job now is customer service, and your customer's problem is now your problem.

Handling frustrated, disappointed customers can be difficult. Doing it in a foreign language can be especially tricky. Why? Because when a customer calls with a complaint, he expects results from someone who is decisive and trustworthy.

Good customer service
The initial impression you now make will set the tone for the rest of the conversation, or for the problem-solving efforts others will undertake. luckily, there's a well-defined set of standard phrases that people associate with good customer service. Knowing these phrases - and understanding the flow of a successful customer service call - can not only increase your chances of achieving a positive resolution, but can also help take the pain out of the conversation.

Successful call structure

  1. Apologise
  2. Ask for the complete story
  3. Sympathise
  4. Summarise
  5. Propose a solution
  6. Get acceptance
  7. Close the call
Is the customer's claim legitimate? Has the story been inflated? Is he complaining just to get something else? Maybe, but at this point, judging the situation would be premature. The goal is to set the right tone for later. You do that with an apology:

Oh, no.
I'm very sorry to hear that.
I'm very sorry to hear that this has happened.
I'm very sorry about this.
I'm very sorry about the delay/mistake/ misunderstanding.

If handling such issues is not your job, follow the apology with something like:

Unfortunately I'm not the right person to be able to help you, but I'll stay with you until I can connect you with someone who can (or with Mr. X). In case we're cut off, my name again is Bloch. Before I try to connect you, can you give me your name and number again in case we're cut off?

Stay with the caller until you can connect him with the correct person. Brief your colleague before he speaks with the customer, so that he can demonstrate that information in the company flows quickly and efficiently. This helps create the feeling that the issue will likely be handled in the same way.

Ask for the complete story
If you are responsible for handling the call and have not yet apologised yourself, you should do so:

My colleague told me ...
I'm very sorry ...

And then:

Can you please
... give me the full story?
... provide me with more detail?
... explain the problem in more detail?
Could you tell me exactly what ...?
Can you tell me ...?
What's the ...?

You may first need to inform the caller that you need to pull up his record:

I'll pull up your record now to see what is going on, and so I can document everything properly.

You may also need to ask for names, account numbers and the like. Now is not the time to discuss what is in the record or what should have happened. Let the customer talk first.

While the customer is providing more detail, you should show that you are already involved in the problem-solving process, and that you truly care about what has happened. Things you might interject while the customer is providing more detail:

That certainly does not sound good.
Yes, I understand.
Yes, I certainly understand that.
Yes, I understand the situation.
Could you tell me a little more about that?

What you might hear
There seems to be a problem with ...
We haven't received ...
The ... doesn't work.
The quality of the work
... is not what we expected.
... is not what you promised.
... is not in line with specifications.
... is unacceptable.

The customer might also refer to previous problems:

This isn't the first time ...
This is the (fourth) time ...
Two months ago ...
The last time, you promised that ...

Or even make threats:

If the problem is not resolved,
... we'll have to
... renegotiate our contract.
... find another supplier.
... the consequences could be quite serious.

The best way to show that you are in a credible position to propose a solution is to first demonstrate you that understand the situation:

I'd like to make sure I understand the situation properly. You've said that ... and that ...
Because of this,
... you now have to ...
... you need to ...

Buying time
Unless you're handling similar problems on a regular basis, you might need to think about the problem for awhile. Give yourself valuable minutes to think about your strategy by buying time:

I'm afraid I don't have all of the information I need.
Can you wait one moment while I
... check to see if ...
... find out why/where ...
If you could ..., I'll
... call you right back.
... call you in two hours, after I've ...

Propose a solution
Any solution you propose has to address the customer's issues (and feelings) as much as possible within your company's policies. Start by reaffirming your apology, and then make your proposal:

Once again, I'm very sorry ...
I'd like to suggest that we ...
We could ... and then ...

Get acceptance
After proposing a solution, it's important to ask the customer if the solution is acceptable. A solution without buy-in is no solution:

Would this be an acceptable solution?
Do you feel this approach will get things back on track?

Close the call
The way you leave a difficult conversation is almost as important as the way your entered it, especially if you've reached an understanding. Be sure to apologise once more and reaffirm your success before you say goodbye:

Once again, I'm very sorry this has happened.
I'm glad we've been able to
... find/agree on a solution.
... resolve the situation.
I'm glad I could be of assistance! Goodbye!

When things go wrong
Things can go wrong in many ways. The customer might make accusations, make threats, say that your solution is unacceptable or possibly even become angry.

Handling accusations
I'm sorry, but I don't think that's right.
I'm afraid that's not quite right.
... Our contract states that ...
... We agreed that ...
I'm sure there was no intention to ...

Handling refusal
Hmm. Is my proposal in any way close to what you were looking for?
Can you tell me what you were looking for?
I'm afraid I'm at the limit of my authority here.
I'll have to escalate the matter.
Can you hold one moment while I ...

Handling anger
(Create a moment of silence.)
I'm very sorry, but I'm trying to be helpful.
Perhaps we could step back from the situation for a moment?
Perhaps we could focus on what needs to happen to resolve the most immediate problem?

The goal
There's an old saying: the customer is always right. This is true, even when he's wrong! His position may not be valid, but if he's frustrated, disappointed or unhappy, it's his right. Your goal is to keep the customer relationship positive. Professional, friendly service is the key to achieving this goal, even if you can't give the customer what he wants!

Schlagwörter: Telefonieren auf Englisch, Englisch Telefonieren, Englisch Telephoning, Englisch am Telefon, Telefon Englisch, Kundengespräch Englisch, Englisch schlichten, Englisch Deeskalation

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