Customer Service Tip of the Week

Grind it out Today for a Better Tomorrow - 8/11/20


It’s been said that You Learn Perseverance by Persevering.  You are becoming mentally tougher right now.  The pain and the difficulties and the change today are making you stronger for dealing with the uncertainties of tomorrow. We’re all having to be more flexible.  We are all facing less consistency, less Read more

Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19


What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect. No Communication = No Connection If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we Read more

Never Before… - 8/4/20


The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, Read more

Effectively Teach the Customer - 7/28/20


The 1985 Harris and Rosenthal research project conveyed what really improves student learning based on the interaction with the teacher.  The top two factors that teachers used to increase learning were (1) The duration of the interaction with the student and (2) The encouragement of the student.  In 3rd Read more

Meet on Equal and Even Ground - 7/21/20


“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.”  Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service. We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding Read more

When Customers are…Jerks - 7/14/20


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 Read more

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness - 7/7/20


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Hope is a Powerful Word – 4/7/20

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It was a typical daddy-daughter conversation. The two were just chatting about whatever a father and an 8-year old discuss, and the father decided to ask his daughter a question. What is your favorite word?

With no hesitation, the girl said “Hope.”

“What a great word!” the father replied.  He was happy with his daughter’s answer, and it was an encouraging sign.  Hope is an important word to her.

And the word Hope seems even more important, even more powerful when you look at some of the antonyms of Hope:  Despair, doubt, fear, distrust, discouragement.  Any word that is the opposite of those has to be pretty positive and pretty powerful!

Hope is not just an important word to an 8-year old, but it’s a powerful word for any of us if we understand what it means and we apply it to our daily lives.

As people who work in business, as people who serve others, we need to realize this word’s important to customers, as well.  There’s a level of uncertainty implied when using the word Hope, and I know in a lot of situations with customers, there’s no guarantee of what the next step will look like or what the result will be; there’s no certainty about whether some things will work or they will meet the timeline or happen in an exact way.

But it’s powerful to say to customers that We Hope this addresses your need. We Hope that this will resolve your issue. We Hope that you enjoy the experience. We Hope that the outcome will be what you need.

When we use Hope in this context, we are positioning ourselves on the customer’s side. We’re not just conveying what could happen, but we are conveying to the customer that we desire what they desire, that we want what is best for them.

The next time you explain a step or a process or what’s going to happen next to a customer, if you have any uncertainty about what will transpire or the impact it will have, convey some Hope.  Show that you not only know your stuff, but show that you want what’s best for them.

Let the customer know of your Hope for them.

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Reach Out to Customers the Right Way – 3/31/20

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Depending on what industry that you work in, business is either booming, or it’s greatly slowed down.  I’m not sure if there’s much of a middle ground these days – where industries are working as normal.

If you’re in one of the industries where business has slowed, there may be an opportunity for you, and a need to address.  When customers are not coming to us as often – to take out a loan for a financial institution, to order products, to buy tickets to a sporting event, to submit plans for new construction – those are times where we lose touch points with our customers. Those are times when we lose contact. Those are times where there are gaps in the communication which can lead to relationships going stale.

Therefore, these are times when we need to ramp up our proactive communications with customers.

Three Types of Proactive Touches – Pick the Right Ones

Too often, businesses view proactive touch points with customers only as opportunities to market and sell. However, you may recall that we recommend three different types of touch points with customers.  One obviously is a proactive communication where you’re marketing and selling, but the first touch point is one where you are seeking information from your customers, asking questions, conducting short surveys, or inquiring about the customer.  The second is actually a proactive push of information, but it is not sales and marketing-oriented. Instead, you are sharing information of value. You’re trying to help the customer.  You are offering educational information to help them personally or professionally.

So, two of the three proactive touches have nothing to do with marketing and sales, and these softer touches are the ones to ramp up at times like these.

When the number of times that your customer reaches out to you goes down, ramp up the number of proactive touches to your customers.  But with empathy, remember that these touches are focused on learning about them and how they’re doing; these touches are about providing information valuable to them – to help them.

Keep your proactive communications with your customers going.

Don’t let relationships go stale.

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LEAD them Away from Anger – 3/24/20

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Last week we addressed keeping our personal sanity.  This week, let’s discuss dealing with customer insanity.  That may not be the best choice of words, but many customers are overreacting.  In last week’s Tip, we discussed dealing with emotions of anxiety and nervousness from customers, but many customers are also quicker to frustration or anger.

I witnessed this last week when picking up dinner curbside at a restaurant.  The employee was new (1 week on the job) and had never worked curbside before that day.  The restaurant had just closed for inside serving, so this was the first purely takeout day.  The staff had to be stressed.  There were 4 cars, the 1 employee working curbside, other cars were arriving, and service was understandably slow.

I couldn’t hear much of what the other customers said to the employee, but the facial expressions and body language conveyed impatience, frustration, and a little anger.  No empathy for the employee.  No understanding for the restaurant that had probably laid off most of their workforce the prior day.

While we – in customer service – need to have empathy for customers, we can’t assume they’ll have the same for us.  They may be triggered quickly, and they may be impatient and unload emotions on us.  So, this is a good time to refresh on our LEAD technique to defuse the angry customer:

  • Listen to the Customer – Let them vent; then start asking questions with options (such as a Yes/No variety or “Did it happen Tuesday or Wednesday?”) or seeking facts. Get them to think and respond objectively, factually.
  • Empathize with Their Situation – Convey your understanding of their situation and feelings. “I can understand how this could be frustrating.”
  • Accept Responsibility – Apologize if the company did something wrong such as “On behalf of the organization, I apologize.” If there’s really nothing to apologize for, at least say the magic words “I’m sorry,” even if all you’re doing is empathizing.  Offer “I’m sorry you’re in that situation.” or “I’m sorry that it happened.”
  • Deliver on the Remedy – Then, transition to a solution. “Let’s see what we can do about this for you.”

 

LEAD them away from anger to a solution.

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