Customer Service Tip of the Week

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma – 4/23/19

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I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the company level. Next week, we’ll address the question at the individual employee level.

At the company or strategic level, the discussion usually centers around some change the organization is about to make. Maybe they’re going to test something in operations or in a system or with a service that might have some negative ramifications to the customer. Maybe they’re going to eliminate a perk or benefit that many customers utilize. Maybe they’re going to change a policy or procedure or stop providing a feature that customers enjoy.

So, should that company tell the customer? If the company doesn’t tell the customer, it oftentimes is because they don’t even think about the customer. They are so focused on their project or their product or their process or their promotion that they don’t think about everybody who might be impacted. Sometimes they’re trying to avoid complaints by not drawing attention or awareness to a change some customers might not like.

A way to answer this question at the company level is to keep in mind that problems are created when a customer expects “A” and they get “B”. Also keep in mind, that when a customer brings a problem to the attention of the organization, the customer’s in control of how that conversation goes. However, if the company takes control of that conversation by notifying the customer of what’s going to change, the company has control over what that message is, how it’s delivered, and within what environment that message is sent.

While there is no one pat answer to this question, most organizations in most situations need to tell the customer. They need to be upfront on what’s going to change so that they can maintain some control over how that communication goes with the customer.

Few organizations have failed because they are too proactive, too open, and too honest with their customers.

When deciding whether or not you should tell the customer, lean toward those options which build trust and transparency with your customer.

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Customer for Life – The Final Step – 4/16/19

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Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them.

While the 3rd step is the toughest – since 10 different customers might have 10 different reasons to stay with your business or go – the Final Step is the one most customer service representatives are uncomfortable with, don’t enjoy, or – frankly – can’t stand doing. Why? Because it means we have to ** gulp ** sell.

No!! Not Sell!!

Yes…sell.

Personally, I never enjoyed selling, and I never felt that I was good at it. Part of the reason why I felt that way is because of how I defined “selling.” To me, selling was pushing a product on somebody that didn’t want it. It was starting a conversation that another person did not want to have or did not find useful. It was pressuring somebody into something just to extract money from them. I guess this was my definition because – in various situations in my personal life – this had happened to me. I was thinking of the worst of those personal situations and putting them in a box marked “SELLING.”

But to have a deeper relationship with someone, you need to grow the relationship. You need to seek out the needs that are under the surface and better understand the issues that impact them, and you have to offer support. You have to be willing to go a little further in your understanding of the other person and their issues, needs, and goals so that you can go a little further in helping them as a friend.

If you want a Customer for Life, you have to take that extra step as well. You have to be inquisitive enough to ask deeper questions about the real issues they face and the real goals they’d like to attain. And you’ve got to be willing to not only identify resources that you can offer them to address those issues and those goals, but you’ve got to take the next step and be willing enough to suggest those resources to them.

This is how I got over my aversion to selling. I view it as an opportunity to help somebody through something that my organization can provide. It’s not identifying a product that we have and figuring out who to push it to. It’s taking a deeper interest in what my client is dealing with or trying to achieve, and trying to help them achieve it. Sometimes that aid is in suggesting other resources or giving informal advice, and sometimes it is suggesting that they tap into some of our CSS resources.

To have a Customer for Life, realize you need to be willing to deepen the relationship by asking those more difficult questions and being willing to suggest solutions to the client.

To keep a customer for life, redefine “selling,” and then sell to serve your customers better.

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Use the Actions of Empathy – 4/9/19

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I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to feel your empathy can help to defuse the situation.

But to make the customer feel your empathy, you not only have to empathize, but you’ve also got to convey that to the customer. So, work on these key empathy actions to S.E.N.D. the right message:

  • Stop – Stop what you’re doing (e.g., paperwork, computer work, working on equipment, looking at cell phone, etc.). It makes them feel like you are their one priority at that time – that you want to understand.
  • Eyes – Make positive eye contact. It ensures that you’re not appearing distracted or upset. You appear focused on them.
  • Nod – Occasionally nod when they say something with which you agree. You’re showing you’re not a brick wall, like someone disagreeing “inside” even though you’re not verbally arguing. Instead, it shows you’re being understanding of their situation.
  • Document – Take a few notes as they talk. It conveys that what they have to say is important enough for you to get the facts/information right (FYI – Tell them why you’re writing so they don’t feel you’re doing other work.).

 

S.E.N.D. the right message. Convey empathy with your actions.

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