Customer Service Skills for the Help Desk


1 day


Working on a Help Desk can be quite busy and stressful with lots of different queries and questions being asked by callers. How can you keep your own energy, attention and commitment to these callers during busy times?

Upon completion of this workshop, you will:

  • Understand how impact is generated and evaluate your own personal impact over the telephone.

  • Understand how to direct and control all conversations without bombarding callers with too much information.

  • Identify customer service skills – questioning techniques, active listening, rapport building and ownership and responsibility.

  • Deal effectively with difficult callers – including handling objections, criticisms and complaints.

Overview of the day

Throughout the day our telephone training kit is used. This allows delegates to work in pairs and have their conversations over the telephone recorded. The trainer can either play the conversations out loud to the whole group or play them back to the delegates over their headsets.

Introduction, welcome & objectives

Introduction to the trainer and topics for the day.

Impact and behaviour

A lively session based around two exercises which demonstrate the impact we have on others including our customers. The various parts of the voice are explored with delegates recording their telephone greeting and receiving appropriate feedback including tips on improvements.

  • Understanding the difference between impact and behaviour

  • Exploring the key elements to provide effective feedback

  • Identifying the impact the client wants each operator to have on their customers

  • Identifying the elements of the voice and how small changes in the voice can be used to create a variety of different impressions

  • Self assessment on the impression that each delegate thinks they create with their customers

  • Assessment by trainer and colleagues on impression each delegate does create with their customers (using telephone kit)!

  • Feedback from all on how to use the voice to create the right impression

  • Practice and further feedback from colleague on selecting the most suitable greeting.

Controlling conversations

A session of self-learning from practical role play situations based on the theory of taking control of conversations. Includes an explanation of the conversation cycle, questioning techniques and an exercise on listening skills.

  • Intro to the four stages of the conversation cycle – Inform, Invite, Listen and Acknowledge

  • Defining “Inform” and how it used to relay information, build confidence, show next steps and avoid being side-tracked

  • Defining “Invite” and how it is used to gather information. How to use different types of question to gather different types of information. How to “funnel” your questions. The danger of using many closed questions.

  • Defining “Listen” and exploring the barriers to listening (particularly over the phone!).

  • Exercise to show how difficult it can be to listen accurately even to very short pieces of information

  • Feedback on difficulties completing the exercise

  • How to improve listening skills relating back to behaviours observed during exercise

  • Defining “Acknowledge” and how it used to keep conversations flowing and the danger of using inappropriate acknowledgements!

  • How the conversation cycle is often only used in part in the workplace and the negative effect this has interactions.

Controlling conversations cont.

  • Exercise – Controlling Conversation 1. Delegates work in pairs over the telephone practising directing conversations. This first exercise is not work related and challenges the delegates to fully use the cycle to gain information from a colleague without their colleague realising the information they were trying to gather. Clearly demonstrates how the cycle works and is a fun exercise! All calls are recorded and played back to delegates for assessment with feedback from the trainer.

  • Exercise – Controlling Conversations 2. This exercise demands that the delegates practice using the cycle in a work place scenario. Working in pairs one delegate will take the part of a customer and the other will assume their regular role. In their pairs the delegates work through a regular customer encounter. The “customer” when playing the role must be as chatty and as distracting as possible throughout the role-play. All calls are recorded and feedback provided as to how well the cycle was used to control the conversation and keep the customer on track.

  • Discussion with the group on how the use of the conversation cycle creates shorter, more harmonious interactions with customers and how this can improve the feedback in customer satisfaction surveys.

Rapport building

Rapport building techniques allow delegates to become aware of a customer’s style and manner. Then move their own style closer to that of the customer to foster good relations. Two exercises are included to give feedback on delegate’s rapport building skills.

  • A workshop to gather delegates thoughts on how body language, the voice and the words make up the different parts of a message

  • Defining body language and exploring the dangers of “reading” it

  • Defining rapport building

  • Exploring how body language can be used to build rapport in face to face situations

  • Exercise in pairs, face to face, to demonstrate how we naturally tend to “mirror” body language when in agreement. Feedback from trainer and colleague.

  • How body language can be used to improve communications in the workplace

  • How to build rapport over the telephone using the different elements of the voice

  • The use of accents to create rapport

  • Exercise in pairs over the telephone to demonstrate rapport building through the correct use of the voice. Feedback from trainer and colleague.

  • Discussion and workshop on how to create rapport when using e-mails including language patterns, formatting, salutations and signatures.


Delegates explore what assertiveness means to them and how this can be practiced when dealing with their own suppliers.

  • Defining assertiveness

  • The mind-set of being the customer

  • Levels of assertion – how to escalate issues to ensure suppliers provide the service they have already committed to.

Dealing with difficult customers

This session examines why some customers are difficult and what they expect. It gives tips on how to handle them with proven methods. The session includes two role play exercises designed to encourage delegates to use all the skills they have learnt on the course. They will use the conversation cycle, build rapport, use of positive words and effective questioning techniques to resolve a “customers” complaint in a professional and assertive style.

  • Workshop exploring why customer can be difficult

  • Examining what customer really want when they complain

  • Understanding the dangers of apologising early in a conversation

  • How to use a proven technique to calm angry customers and create rapport with them

  • Creating the right opening line

  • Exercise – Delegates work in pairs using the telephones. One delegate is an angry customer and the other assumes their normal work role. The “customer” will angrily deliver a three point complaint which the other person will receive and diffuse using the complaint handling technique. All calls are recorded with feedback from colleague and trainer.

  • Workshop to create a list of words that can be used to inspire confidence with customers and an exploration of the words and phrases that irritate us all!

  • Workshop to explore the use of assertive behaviours to take control of client complaints.

  • Delegates to create a list of examples of poor service they have received followed by a group discussion on how to avoid those errors in.

  • Exercise – A final role-play which enables delegates to calm an angry customer and go on to resolve their issues using all the techniques that have been covered during the day. All the calls are recorded with feedback from colleague and trainer.

End of programme

Delegates to spend time in pairs creating an action list of points they will change upon their return to work. Course is then closed with a summary and a final opportunity for questions and feedback.

1:1 Coaching and Embedding in the Live Environment

Approximately 2-3 weeks after the delegates have attended our 1 day Customer Service Skills for the Help Desk programme, we are recommending that our trainer spends 1.5 hours with each delegate providing coaching and support in the live environment. Through taking calls and receiving immediate coaching, delegates are able to identify specific strengths to maintain and development areas which require more focus.

At the end of each coaching session, each delegate will receive a summary action plan containing each of the areas coached and supported.


Timings: 9am to 5pm for the day

Number of participants: We can accommodate up to 10 participants during each 1 day programme

Cybèle team: 1 trainer for the training day and the follow up day

Equipment needed: Training room large enough to house 10 people comfortably with space for smaller group work and room to move around. Also 2 x flipcharts & paper; projector and screen please.

We will use our Digital Voice Coach system throughout the day for “real play” purposes

Programme materials: Will be supplied by Cybèle including joining instructions for distribution in advance of the programme.