Customer Service Tip of the Week

How to Deal with the Non-Conversational Customer - 4/24/18


The customer would not say much. He was giving one-word answers when you’re seeking information. It was “like pulling teeth.” Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was ticked off. Maybe it’s just the way he normally speaks. Regardless of the reason for the lack of Read more

Inflate Your Team - 4/17/18


I was talking with a friend recently about their job change. They’re still working in the same company, still doing the same type of technology support, but their position had been moved from a user area to the information technology department. This person seemed happier in their job than Read more

Peer Recognition Made Easy - 4/10/18


There may be one manager in the department. There may be one supervisor over your division. Those individuals may see you interact with customers, but usually your conversations with your customers are out of the sight of leadership. Every day you make a difference, and often you’re working Read more

General George Patton on Customer Service - 4/3/18


Here’s a quote from General George Patton: “Plans must be simple and flexible. They should be made by the people who are going to execute them.” We’ve worked with enough companies to know that employees get irate when they’re told about plans too late or they’re not involved Read more

A PB&J Customer Service Lesson - 3/27/18


When my daughter was in elementary school, she had a teacher who gave the kids an assignment – write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Simple enough, right? When the assignment was turned in, the teacher stood at her desk, pulled out a loaf of bread, Read more

In-the-Moment Stress Relief - 3/20/18


It is totally understandable why anyone would feel stress as a customer service representative. You may be dealing with complaints constantly. You have the internal pressure of making a quick call while adhering to a 2-inch binder’s worth of policies. You can hear the pain, the Read more

About Adults Behaving Badly and Common Sense - 3/13/18


I was conducting focus groups at a client site that was known for poor customer service. They were trying to change their culture and turn around their customer experience, but they first wanted to get a sense of the current state of things. This particular focus group Read more

Physician, Know Thyself - 3/6/18


Delivering exceptional service is about more than responding to the issue, need, or goal. It’s about more than resolving the complaint. It’s also about taking a step back and identifying WHY customers could get upset or irate, why they could have issues or complaints, why it’s not Read more

Channel Your Inner Consultant - 2/27/18


Oftentimes, when we think about customer service, we think about responding to our customer’s need or issue. We think about resolving the concern or reacting to the emotion. But at times, it’s beneficial for us to take a step back. Think about our past experiences. Read more

Use Privacy to Keep the Peace - 2/20/18


When conducting a Service Excellence Training session for an education client, I asked the staff from Student Services to describe situations where they encounter irate students. One of the employees noted how – when you correct the student or try to educate him on his part in the Read more

How to Deal with the Non-Conversational Customer – 4/24/18

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


The customer would not say much. He was giving one-word answers when you’re seeking information. It was “like pulling teeth.” Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was ticked off. Maybe it’s just the way he normally speaks.

Regardless of the reason for the lack of dialogue, you need information. You have other customers to serve. You need to make the conversation work.

When you find yourself in a situation with a customer who is basically non-communicative, here are some tips to still hold an effective conversation:

  • Start by asking simple close-ended questions such as “Did you make the purchase in the store or online?” A few close-ended questions create a dialogue and add a little bit of rhythm to the conversation. The conversation starts to flow.
  • Be very appreciative of any response they give. You may reply to their brief response by saying “That helps!” or “Great!” Then go to your next question. You’re creating a positive tone instead of showing any frustration with their brevity.
  • Explain why you’re asking the questions. Oftentimes the hesitation is because they either don’t know why you need the information, or they are making negative assumptions about why you seek the information.
  • Confirm everything back to them. Because the non-conversational types usually don’t give you a lot of information up front, to ensure you understand the full picture, you often have to piece together multiple responses to your multiple questions.

 
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone who is obviously giving you very little to go on, hold back in your frustration. Taken a couple deep breaths, then get into a rhythm, be appreciative, explain why you need the information, and confirm it all back.

Learn how to deal with the non-conversational customer.

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Inflate Your Team – 4/17/18

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I was talking with a friend recently about their job change. They’re still working in the same company, still doing the same type of technology support, but their position had been moved from a user area to the information technology department.

This person seemed happier in their job than they had ever been before. They smiled more during conversations. They seemed more relaxed and at peace. The workload was the same, the content of the work was the same, but there was one big difference – the people she worked side-by-side with every day were different.

In her other department, even if she started the day with the best attitude possible, by the end of the day her motivation was gone, she was worn out, she felt times of stress, and she often felt down.

In her new department, she ended the day with more energy, she was generally happy, the tension and stress weren’t there anymore, and she felt at peace about the accomplishments of the day’s work.

I’m sure she herself had something to do with how she felt in this new department, but just as big an impact on her were the people that she worked with in each place. In retrospect, she viewed her co-workers in the first department as Deflators. The people in her new department are Inflators.

In the previous department, staff talked negatively, didn’t plan well, made every issue a big issue, were concerned more with their own image than team performance, communicated expectations poorly, and then complained when hidden expectations were not met. These were the Deflators.

Her new department included people who were very professional, well-organized, understood their common goals, enjoyed each other’s company in fun activities like fantasy football, were happy to jump in and help co-workers, and generally functioned as a team.

Take a look back at what caused one group to be considered Deflators and the other to be considered Inflators. Then look at yourself. What impact do you have on your co-workers with your attitude, your planning, your willingness to help, and your focus on others?

Make sure you’re a model of great teamwork. Be an Inflator.

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Peer Recognition Made Easy – 4/10/18

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There may be one manager in the department. There may be one supervisor over your division. Those individuals may see you interact with customers, but usually your conversations with your customers are out of the sight of leadership.

Every day you make a difference, and often you’re working side-by-side with co-workers who are also making a difference. So, if we rely only on leadership to recognize us, we’re losing out on one of the greatest sources of recognition – our peers.

A Quick Story – The client called their account representative, Beverly, with a request about the monthly lawn service they were scheduled to provide. Beverly offered some suggestions to the client, noted that Jeremy would be onsite the next day and could provide more information, and shared how knowledgeable Jeremy is on this particular topic.

Jeremy delivered what Beverly promised, and the client sent a thank you e-mail to Beverly, noting and appreciating Jeremy’s patience and information shared. Beverly then routed the kudos to Jeremy and his supervisor.

It was simple.

The employee heard something positive about a co-worker, and let the co-worker know. The employee experienced a co-worker going above and beyond, and she simply shared that information with him.

Beverly could have just heard the compliment, but she took an extra few seconds to share that compliment with others in the organization. This form of peer recognition is exceptionally easy – all you have to do is to share what you hear positively with that co-worker and potentially with their supervisor.

Many of us appreciate being appreciated, but for many of us all the appreciation comes solely from the fulfillment of doing your job well or the occasional but all-too-rare accolades we receive from supervisors. If instead we take on an attitude of appreciation and a desire to point out the positives of peers, we’re filling up people with accolades by simply passing on the positives that the customers share.

Make peer recognition a part of your everyday job. Simply pass along customer kudos.

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