Many people hate speaking in public. There are bookstores filled with guidebooks helping wedding guests learn how to make the perfect speech.
In our life at work, making a PowerPoint presentation to colleagues is more likely to be the source of stress and anxiety. But the biggest cause of stress when speaking in public is the fear that you won’t (or don’t) know what you are talking about.
When talking about a subject you are very familiar with, it is very natural to talk about it and even answer questions, but as soon as you stray into less familiar territory the anxiety attacks.
The advice for those speaking in public is to know what you are talking about, but this can equally be applied to those who need to talk to customers.
When a customer asks a question, first clarify that you know what they mean – you could be answering a completely different question. There is never any harm in trying to simplify a problem or question, even if it means repeating the question back to ensure that you understood it.
Answering within your field of expertise is essential. If the customer needs specialist help that you can’t provide then it is better to call in the correct expert advice rather than trying to bluff your way out of the situation.
Calmness also speaks volumes. Regardless of what the customer is asking, stay calm and collected – once you start apologising or defending a certain position the customer has a way to attack what you are saying.
I know that I am full of appreciation because our agents manage this everyday. The books full of advice on public speaking don’t take into account that working in a call centre and fielding customer questions all day can be a very similar experience to those fear-filled speeches.
Photo by Jan Brasna licensed under Creative Commons