Speed Up Calls With Chatty Customers

Occasionally, everyone has to deal with the delicate situation of disengaging from a chatty customer who simply doesn’t want to hang up.

“We’re in the habit of waiting for permission to terminate a conversation,” says Richard Gallagher of Skills Development International. However, “there are some people who will never give you that permission.”

To get off the line with a talkative caller, he suggests using a technique he calls the “acknowledging close.” Here’s how it works:

Step 1. Interrupt the caller to enthusiastically acknowledge the last thing they said.

Step 2. Follow with what Gallagher calls a “binary” question — ask a yes/no question and, as soon as the caller answers, follow immediately with another yes/no question. For instance: The caller is telling you a long story about a recent vacation in which the car broke down, the weather didn’t cooperate, etc.

You interrupt with: “You know what I hate about situations like that? You plan a vacation and then all of these things go wrong. By the way, while we’re talking, I just need to confirm …”

“It works like a charm because the talkative person knows that you’re paying attention to them,” Gallagher says. “I’ve never seen anyone get upset when I use that technique.”

More on handling chatty customers, plus articles on service recovery and reducing stress appear in the June issue of Customer Communicator, the training newsletter for frontline reps.

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