Customer Service Tip of the Week

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Using I, We, or You in Customer Service - 9/1/20


It’s amazing how many conversations can go horribly wrong or incredibly right, not because of the use of a 4-letter word, but simply because of the use of a 1, 2, or 3-letter word – I, We, You. The incorrect use of I, We, You in conversations causes problems more Read more

Get Your Guru On - 8/25/20


You may have heard of management gurus - these people who seemed to know all and be all, to have the wisdom of 1000 leaders.  Maybe you’ve heard it in your industry as a guru in sports psychology or the master of economics or sociology or human behavior. And so Read more

Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right - 8/18/20


This is a famous Henry Ford quote, and the quote is all about self-belief, all about confidence. We’ve often spoken about the need to be confident and how to gain confidence, because that confidence - or the lack thereof - is imparted on the customer. But how does a customer tell Read more

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

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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4 Tips for Personal Sanity in Public Crisis – 3/17/20

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We can only control what we can control.  There are times like these where the healthcare world is fighting a quickly-spreading virus, and governmental, business, and other organizations are making changes to try to mitigate risks and find solutions where possible.

With all this activity swirling around us, we still have jobs to do.  We still have the work and the customers and the daily responsibilities, and we are expected to perform well even as changes around us become – temporarily, we believe – more unpredictable.

How do we get our mindset and focus on the task at hand or the person we’re serving with everything swirling around us?  Here are 4 Tips:

  • Get Educated, but not Inundated: Know what you need to know about the virus, appropriate personal hygiene practices, and other activities that could keep yourself safe.  Know key facts, but make sure you’re giving your mind a break from non-stop news and discussions on the topic.  Ensure you are giving yourself some balance.
  • Prepare for More Anxiety-filled Discussions: We’ve experienced this with some of our clients and their customers over the past 2 weeks.  There’s more emotion, fear of the unknown, quicker turnaround time expected on requests and complaints.  This is something for which you can prepare – alleviating customer anxiety using our STEP UP technique.  In a nutshell, the CSS technique states:
    • Share your understanding of their situation – offering some empathy
    • Tell them about yourself and how you’ve helped people in similar situations
    • Explain the Process for how you’ll address their concern, and ensure they understand
    • End UP! Close positively, thanking them for contacting you and sharing the concern.
  • Care for Your Own Mental Health: I’m no clinician, but it’s clear that plenty of rest, plenty of fluids, occasional deep breathing, and movement keep you feeling better physically/mentally.
  • Take Action Focused on Today’s Priorities: Even if you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, map out today.  Identify the “big rocks” – those higher priority tasks – and act on them first so you at least get the top items addressed most days.  Having a plan, working the plan, and celebrating the work every day can help with our mental mindset.

We can only control what we can control. Use these four tips to create a little personal sanity for yourself.

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