covid-19

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

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness – 7/7/20

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

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

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

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 often lonely or struggling with effective communication and collaboration – you start to wonder how communications can be more effective, how collaboration can occur, and how feelings of loneliness and isolation can be overcome.

As I was thinking about the root causes of these issues and possible solutions, I remembered the Customer Service Standards that one of our education industry clients implemented. We helped to design these Standards based on their desired organizational culture, and I wanted to share them with you.

Paraphrased below are some of the Standards. They are worded as actions, but they are also individual commitments. Review them, and see how you can tangibly address them to care for yourself and your co-workers:

  • I will communicate with others so they feel valued and important. I will actively listen to them and convey my understanding, communicating in a clear, concise, and complete manner.
  • I will acknowledge communications from others in a timely manner and manage expectations for next steps; I will then address the need in a time that meets or exceeds their expectations.
  • I will engage with others around common goals, building mutual trust and loyalty as we move together toward solutions.
  • I will work with others, proactively sharing information and ideas to support the achievement of collective goals.

 

These all relate to communication, collaboration, being proactive, and being responsive. They revolve around a theme of empathy and caring for others. And if utilized, they may help to overcome the loneliness of others…and ourselves.

Apply these Standards to Care for Co-workers during COVID.

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Serving the Technology-challenged Customer – 6/9/20

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The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, the customer got back on the phone and said, “Sorry about that; two of my windows were easy to open, but the third was painted shut.”

This is a true story, it came out of training we conducted almost 20 years ago, and in many ways it applies today, as well.

Not every customer grew up with technology, and not every customer loves or is naturally wired to work with technology. Especially in this age where so many are working remotely and we have a need to provide customer service remotely, we need to understand if the person we’re talking to is technology-challenged.

These people are as smart or smarter than any of us, but maybe they just have a different communication preference or a different background or a different level of experience and comfort with technology. To address these unique individuals, here are three key areas of focus.

Patience – First, it’s about our way of interacting with people. We need to be very patient and very empathetic/understanding, as well. A little bit of levity and laughter is always good when done appropriately. Keep in mind that we’re trying to create comfort with this person and reduce their anxiety, and the more patient and understanding we are in the words we say and the tone we use, the more comfortable they will become.

Phrases – Second, effective communication in these situations is based on understanding the importance of words. Even “windows” does not mean the same thing to everybody. Try to avoid the acronyms. Try to understand that simplicity is vital. Does “application” mean the same thing to everybody? What does it mean to “click on” something? Think about keeping things Short, Simple, and Summarized, so that they understand. And if you feel they don’t understand, ask them their understanding of what they see, should be seeing, or should be doing.

Process Steps – Third, don’t move through multiple steps quickly. Always end one step by confirming where they are before going on to step two. End each step with a clarification question if there’s any doubt about where they are at that point.

If we want to deliver great customer service, let’s tailor the process of delivering that customer service to the individual we are speaking with at the time.

Let’s provide great customer service in this technology world, particularly to the technology-challenged customer.

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