by Al Wadleigh

For Pat and Charlie Ryle, who own the Santa Cruz Answering Service in Santa Cruz, California, NLP plays a key role in how they train their operators to answer calls. “We service over 500 professional businesses and answer live for approximately 250 customers. Many are doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, real estate people, and one-person small businesses. A consistent high-quality of service is what maintains our customer base and draws in new customers. Therefore what we teach our operators is of the utmost importance,” explains Pat.

Many callers are not happy to have their call answered by the bureau. If they have an emergency and need immediate attention they don’t want to talk to an operator, they want to talk to the person they are calling. So what NLP skills do Pat and Charlie teach their operators to handle these tough situations?

“Rapport is the first skill we teach them. By understanding the representational systems and by listening to the caller, they can use their voices–which is their biggest asset in the answering service business–to pace and lead the caller and build rapport.

“Next they learn how to protect themselves from the irate caller by using perceptual positions. They learn how to step into the caller’s shoes in order to find the positive intention of the caller. Then to step into the observer position so that they can disassociate from any negative emotion of the caller, whether angry or frightened, so they can remain objective and handle the call appropriately.

“Finally, we teach them three points on how to manage their own states. We emphasize that the tone of their voice, the speed at which they speak, and the way they articulate their words communicates many things about them: whether they are happy to be answering the phone, what their state of mind is, whether they have any emotion behind their voice, and whether they are confident and knowledgeable about the business for which they are answering. They learn a process to disassociate themselves from their personal problems and to change their state into a resourceful one.”

Pat and Charlie get very positive feedback and results from their training sessions. Their employees are happier because they have the resources to be more successful and to make their jobs easier. The callers and customers are pleased because their calls are handled professionally.