How to ask someone to speak up in customer service

Peyton Duplechien • 19 Aug 2019 • 3 min read

As we’re sure you’re aware, having good customer service is essential for having positive interactions with clients and customers, both in person, online, and over the phone – with the impact of bad customer service often lost business or poor reviews. However, sometimes things can get in the way. 

Whether it’s a bad phone signal, a language barrier, or something else entirely, there’s certainly going to be occasions where your customer service representatives have a hard time hearing clients over the phone. 

But with that being said, one of the core soft skills of any receptionist is to maintain telephone etiquette and courtesy at all times, even when asking someone to speak louder and more clearly. To make sure you do it right, here are our top tips on how to ask someone to speak up in customer service.

When might you need to ask a customer to speak up?

We’ve all been in situations when it’s hard to hear the person on the other end of the line, and there might be many reasons for it. Below are just some of the leading causes of miscommunication over the phone:

  • Soft tones – some people naturally speak softer than others and when you’re on the phone with someone who naturally speaks a little more quietly, it can be tough to have a conversation.
  • Language barriers: language barriers can also make it difficult to understand someone when you’re not in person, and speaking to someone who is struggling to find the right words can really stilt the quality of a conversation.
  • Poor connections: sometimes bad cellular reception is unavoidable and it’s one of the leading causes of poor phone conversations. If someone is cutting in and out, or if their voice sounds like it’s on a delay, it can be hard to chat.
  • Phone issues: in some cases, a caller may have the volume turned too far down on their phone for you to hear them or vice-versa, and similarly, some people may think they are on speaker when they’re not. Others may even accidentally hit the mute button during the conversation so that they think the line is dead.

As you can see, there are many scenarios you can encounter, and its likely everyone has experienced a challenging phone conversation at some point in their life, whether it was due to one of the reasons listed above or otherwise.

So, if you want to avoid annoying a potential customer because of these issues, the tips we’ve outlined below will go a long way towards maintaining good phone etiquette and meeting your customer’s needs.  

Politely asking someone to speak up

Without a doubt, the number one thing to do when asking anyone to raise their voice is to be polite and courteous. If you’re wondering how to ask someone to speak up in customer service, simply try following this three-step process:

  • Apologize: start by apologizing and acknowledging to the customer that you can’t hear them properly. Simply by saying “I’m sorry,” you put the caller at ease. If you fail to apologize first at all, offering solutions may instead sound like an accusation.
  • Take responsibility: once you’ve apologized, focus on using the word “I” rather than “you” as you work out a solution. For example, using terms like “I’m having trouble hearing you” and “I missed that.” will help the other person to stay calm. You should avoid saying things like “You need to speak louder.”
  • Provide solutions rather than problems: finally, once you’ve followed the first two steps, it’s time to find a solution. It’s not enough to simply say “Something’s wrong with your phone.” — that’s a problem rather than a solution. Instead focus on providing answers. For example, start by saying, “Can you please repeat that?”

What to do when this doesn’t work?

While the steps we’ve suggested above will certainly help in some situations, they’re not a foolproof solution. Even the best business telephone etiquette doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to fix an audio problem and if asking the other person to speak up or repeat themselves doesn’t work, it’s probably time to try something else.

First, get as much information as possible from the customer despite the connection issues. Then, try moving the caller onto a different channel, such as email or live chat to continue the discussion.

Finally, try to make sure the caller feels as though moving to a different channel is part of the regular process. If done correctly, the caller won’t even know phone issues affected the conversation.

Hopefully, with these tips on hand, you should have an easier time talking to customers with phone issues. However, if you feel like this role might be better suited to an expert, then get in touch with the VoiceNation team today. 

At VoiceNation, our team of expert live-answering virtual receptionists handle calls around the clock each and every day. We’ve even developed our own proprietary technology to answer our clients’ calls within 10 seconds, and our live answering services are available for a fraction of the cost of developing an in-house solution. 

Speak with us today to learn more about what we offer, and visit our blog for similar articles to this one, such as how to handle angry customers over the phone.