empathy

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing – 12/10/19

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

“I just want to be heard.”

When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with government services, there’s often only one place to go for a particular service – the government.

Residents understand that when there are issues, a local municipality won’t be able to offer a gift card or a 10% discount on the next purchase.  Residents understand that a complaint won’t result in some compensation or possibly even a fix.  So, what do residents want?  Many just want to be heard.

Usually when a resident is venting to me about a government client, when they say that they want to be heard, they’re typically referring to two things:  The attitude and the action.  A listening attitude is conveyed when the employee is focused on them, the employee is patient about the issue, doesn’t interrupt, and is empathetic and understanding about the situation.  Residents want to know you understand what’s unique about them, possibly by stating the situation back to them.  And they want the body language and the tone to reflect that listening orientation.

But being heard also can imply action.  Maybe the employee said all the right things in the right way to the customer, but if the employee does nothing with the information, often residents interpret that inaction as not being heard.

Now, taking action doesn’t necessarily mean resolving the issue.  But at least investigate it further.  Ask a co-worker for advice.  Suggest an alternative solution.  Let them know you’ll share the concern with leaders so that similar situations don’t happen to others.  Tell them what they could do in the future so that the situation won’t arise again.  And if you did something for them, tell them that you did it.  They won’t know you took action until you tell them you did so.

Many complaining customers just want to be heard, and not until they feel that they have been heard do they believe that you care.

Convey you care by conveying you heard them with your attitude and action.

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Between Texting and Thoreau – 9/17/19

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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. However, when something is put in writing in an e-mail, it needs to be considered a professional business document.

Now let’s not go overboard and think that e-mails need to be the work of a poet. This should not be Henry David Thoreau waxing poetic about Walden Pond. There is a middle ground, however, between texting and Thoreau. When composing a professional business message in the world of customer service, use these guidelines.

Personalize – Use the other person’s name, and use your name as well. Have enough informality so that they feel like you were talking to them individually and addressing their situation more personally. Use the names to establish a little bit of rapport in the sense that you are viewing them as unique.

Empathize – We’ve often said that emotions and e-mails don’t mix well, so to do your best to try to convey your understanding, at least use a little bit of empathetic wording. Use the word understand, use the word unfortunately when you have to give bad news, use the phrase I could only imagine… when addressing their frustrations.

Synthesize – This is where avoiding Thoreau is a really good thing. In e-mails, people want the message quickly; they don’t want to feel they’re reading a book. In 1 minute, can you tell them the main point that you’re making, convey next steps, share timeframes, and note who’s doing what?

In order to communicate effectively and in a professional manner via e-mail, find a happy medium between texting and Thoreau.

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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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