Article

Soft-Skills

Soft Skills

In almost all interactions, there are moments of truth that we may call critical junctions, when the legitimate requirements of each side need to be addressed by the other.

Training prepares people to successfully sail through these critical junctions.

Training prepares people to successfully sail through these critical junctions. In the world of commerce and customer interactions, success at these critical junctions means ensuring maximum satisfaction for the customer without compromising on the employers guidelines and interests. These are the elements of sustained profitable long-term business.

Interactions are dynamic. They can be subject to mood swings, irrational demands, misunderstandings and uncertainty over what is actually needed. Every nuance has to be handled appropriately: the response at all times has to be within the established boundaries of diplomacy and tact, even when facing abusive customers. The image and corporate well-being of the employer are primary.

Well-trained personnel adept at customer interaction are an absolute must in todays commercial world, especially where there are pre-sales, sales and postsales procedures involved.

Personnel need foresight in anticipating customer needs, efficiency in catering to customers, effectiveness in dealing with unexpected situations, diplomacy in trouble shooting and clarity in written, oral and non-oral communication, all tied to an appealing personality and professional work habits.

Training for personnel in customer interaction usually concentrates on:

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  • Communication Skills

  • Global English

  • Global Comprehensibility

  • Components of Speech

  • Grammar Basics

  • Business Writing

  • Speech Clarity and Enhancement

  • Accents and Dialects

  • Cultural Sensitization

  • Telephone Etiquette

  • Conference Call Etiquette

  • Rapport Building

  • Customer Service and Customer Etiquette

  • Social Etiquette

  • High Impact Presentation Skills

  • Telesales

  • Self Motivation

  • Personality Development

  • Time Management

  • Organizational Commitment

  • Professional Etiquette and Grooming

  • Assertiveness skills

  • Body Language

It is a reality of life that the behavior patterns and ethics of personnel reflect a variety of influences: their ethnic origins, their academic backgrounds, their social backgrounds, their native tongues, their conceptions – and misconceptions – of what is right and what is not. These factors influence their communication abilities, their sense of ethics, their sense of duty and responsibility, their reactions to the different situations that life – especially professional life – can throw up.

Inner sincerity that is not conveyed properly can fail to bring about the desired results; lack of inner sincerity will bring about even more negative results, even if it is camouflaged behind a polished exterior.

The proper training can work wonders in molding personnel to the mission and desired objectives of the employer.

We will expand a little on Voice and Accent training, which is relevant to all of us here today.

Globalization has enabled developing countries like India to achieve high growth rates. The work forces of these countries have had the doors to new career opportunities opened for them. There is a crying need in the BPO industry for personnel training and guidance that can inculcate proper people management skills.

One of the primary areas of focus for BPOs is Voice and Accent training.

What does Voice and Accent training mean?

Voice and accent training helps personnel get used to accents, colloquial language patterns, cultural aspects and communication etiquette. For example, if personnel are dealing with clients in the US, they are trained to achieve the proper rapport with those clients in terms of accent, vocabulary, cultural sensitivity and accepted norms of communication. The primary emphasis is on achieving:

  • a strong but pleasant voice and manner of speaking as part of an appealing personality;

  • error-free communication in terms of familiarity with US accents and through response in a "neutral" accent; i.e., an accent that is devoid of regional influences and is easily understood by clients from the US;

  • minimum mastery of the English language such as would enable easily understood written and oral communication what would leave no room for misunderstanding; speech mastery would include rate of speech, pronunciation, mother tongue influence;

  • sensitivity to cultural issues: becoming aware of what is accepted as proper behavior by people in the US – things like punctuality, giving a commitment only after due consideration and then making sure that commitment is met, etc.

  • Voice and Accent Training also includes subjects like proper communication skills (telephone etiquette, email etiquette, listening skills) and proper issue handling skills (dealing with routine clients problems, dealing with angry clients, dealing with abusive clients)

These skills, also known as "Soft Skills", are high on the list of training requirements for companies with global business.

Bharati has about six years of training experience in the IT/ ITeS industry: designing, developing, delivering and managing learning interventions for executives and other personnel. She specializes in the areas mentioned in the list above, as well as in voice and accent (US & UK) training and US visa interview training. She has worked with corporate entities such as Tata Consultancy, Taj Hotels, A C Nielsen, Wipro, Mphasis, Maveric, Primero Global, Roever, Object Frontline and Cognizant to identify human resource training needs in the area of customer interaction, prepares training course curriculums and material, conducts the courses and submits assessment reports recommending future training needs for each individual trainee. She designs and carries out programs for optimizing the quality of employee interaction and maximizing customer satisfaction