Customer Service Tip of the Week

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

When Customers are…Jerks – 7/14/20

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Some people are a little extra…uh…difficult to deal with these days. Customers may have concerns or complaints – many of which are justified. But some customers act like…well…jerks. They’re not kind or understanding or have any idea how poorly they treat others. They’re obnoxious and yet, we still have to serve them.

So when you’re engaged with a customer and the phrase (“What a jerk!”) pops into your mind, let that acronym – J.E.R.K. – help you deal with them:

  • Just calm yourself down. Don’t match emotion for emotion – that will just raise the tension and lengthen the encounter. Remember their negativity is not about you – even if they’re directing it AT you. Use the techniques that work best for you for calming your mind and your pulse.
  • Empathize with them. Empathy always is a key ingredient in reducing emotion, because it takes away the sense that they’re in a fight. It makes them feel that – while you may not be “for” them – at least you’re not against them. Show that you understand their situation even if you don’t agree with their point.
  • Redirect toward a solution. The longer you’re mired in a talk about who’s to blame or what went wrong, the longer it can take to get it right. Yes, let them speak their peace, but segue to discussions of next steps, what you or they can do, what it would take to get it right.
  • Know your Plan B. Who do you go to or bring in when “JER” doesn’t work – a supervisor, security? What compensation can you offer – the remuneration tools the company provides or the alternatives that you can suggest? Can you take down the information and call them back at a specified time? Know what Plan B’s are available for you in these types of situations.

 

Do your best to do what’s best…when the customer is being a J.E.R.K.

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Customers Appreciate Your Kindness – 7/7/20

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The 3rd grade teacher had a phrase she used with her students. She wanted them to be “kind-hearted.” It was a phrase she used over and over again; no matter what she taught, this was an overriding emphasis on how she would communicate with students and how she expected them to communicate with each other.

Yet, in 2020, it seems like a lot of the dialogue, at least publicly, is anything but kind. And where there is a lack of kindness in public discourse, kindness in 1-on-1 communications is needed that much more. Sometimes people in customer service can be so script-oriented, so ultra-professional, so technique-oriented, that having a little bit of informality – that little extra kindness needed to treat a person like a person – can get lost.

So, what is kindness? It’s being friendly, conversational. It’s being nice in the words and phrases that are used. To be nice, think about what is said and the tone that is used. Avoid the interruption or talking over the other person. Ask about the other person and how they are doing, what is of interest to them.

It’s being considerate of the other person’s time and situation. Their concern or priority may not seem like a big deal to you, but if this is a need or concern being voiced by the customer, it is obviously a big deal to them.

Have a gentle manner. Sometimes we can be so loud or so abrupt that even the best words can come across like a hammer. Keep the tone lower and the pace a tiny bit slower.

People who are kind understand how to listen, and the importance of making sure that most of the talking is done by the other individual. They understand that being perceived as empathetic is best achieved if the customer feels like you are listening enough to understand them. You’re asking enough questions to learn. You’re actually conveying you care more by commenting less.

If you’re looking for a way to bring a little brighter experience to your customer’s day, figure out how to add more kindness to your conversations. The customers will appreciate the break from the acrimony of their day with the kindness you bring into the conversation.

Customers will appreciate your kindness.

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6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters – 6/30/20

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I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to stick to scripts and procedures, and to prioritize checking-off a task over actually helping a customer.

To ensure your organization provides Common Sense Customer Service, let’s walk through some basics that address how to serve customers based on how they reached out to you

  • If the customer e-mails, give them answers in the e-mail; possibly offer a phone call as an option to get more information, but don’t make a call the ONLY option for ANY information. Give them an answer via e-mail, even if it’s just preliminary or partial, and offer a link to a specific web page.
  • If they e-mail a request or call in, don’t assume they’d prefer to visit your facility to address the need. Offer ways that they can get the need met without the effort of the onsite encounter.
  • If they call to talk to someone who can help on an issue, assume they want to talk to a SPECIFIC PERSON THEN who can help; they’d prefer not to get to a voice mail, not to repeat their need 3 times to 3 different people, not to be told to “go to the website.”
  • If they walk-in, expect a longer conversation than a call. If they spent an hour planning and conducting a roundtrip visit to see you, expect more than a 2-minute conversation.
  • If they walk in with nothing, assume they may want to walk out with something. Be prepared to write down information for them, to offer a handout, to print a key page off the website.
  • If they communicate via an online chat and convey the details of the situation at the start of the chat, assume they expect you to read that statement and not ask them questions they’ve already answered.

 

Sometimes the key to effective customer service starts with common sense. Base your response, in part, on how they reached out to you.

Do your part to make Common Sense Customer Service a common practice.

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