empathy

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

Bank on Higher Level Service – 9/25/18

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


In the recent Bloomberg article “Some banks are giving tellers more to do and better pay,” a Goldman Sachs survey is highlighted. It notes how more and more people are going to digital means to find answers to questions through self-service, and then they go to tellers or a branch if they can’t find the answer. Essentially, the article talks about how so many of the more common questions and inquiries are addressed without ever going to a human being.

So, what does this mean for the frontline staff?

Employees Deal with More Complexity
It means that when staff get questions, those questions are typically more complex. Therefore, they need to be well-versed in higher-level issues and challenges and with software applications that might not have anything to do with their own business. Maybe it’s a Venmo request, but they’re calling a bank that has nothing directly to do with Venmo. Maybe it’s a PayPal question, but their bank has no formal relationship with PayPal.

Customers Already Invested Time
Another consideration is that, if the customer didn’t find the answer to their question via the self-service methods, then they’ve already gone through a process and spent time on an issue before they ever get to a person. Therefore, they have already invested time and energy, and their patience may be waning. There may be more of a sense of urgency in their request.

Customers are Frustrated with the Lack of Results
Third, since they attempted to do this on their own and they could not, they might have a greater likelihood of being frustrated when the conversation starts. They’ve already made the attempt and not found the answer. So these frontline employees are being asked higher-level questions about other sources of information or other services that might not relate directly to their company. They are dealing with customers who have already invested time and energy, dealing with customers who may be frustrated with the lack of results from that expenditure of time and energy.

When you’re on the phone with the caller today as opposed to even 10 years ago, make sure you’re aware of those other features and functions and sources of information that your customer may go to first. Make sure you know the higher-level answers and have the patience to deal with folks who might have a sense of urgency because they’ve already spent time looking elsewhere. And make sure you understand that people might be upset with something that has nothing to do with you – maybe it’s a lack of an answer from another source – but now they’re not only coming to you with a higher-level need, they’re coming to you with a little bit of frustration as well.

In this digital world, have a sense for what the customer has gone through as a part of even getting you on the phone, because oftentimes you’re not the first source; yet, you’re dealing with a customer and the emotional baggage that their encounter with that first source left behind.

Bank on Higher Level Service.

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The MOST Wonderful Time of the Year? – 12/19/17

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


As the song says, “It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year.” True, and it can also be the most stressful time, and in business and the world of customer service, it can easily be the most HECTIC time of the year.

In healthcare, people are trying to get procedures done before year-end. In retail, many businesses are getting 70%+ of their sales in the last quarter of the year. In sports, the football, hockey, and basketball clubs are still playing games.

So, the customer-facing work is often crazy-busy, but the employees’ lives are also different. They’re shopping, planning to see family and friends, dealing with kids being out of school, trying not to go over personal budgets, and trying to keep a good attitude without burning out on the holiday before it even happens.

This is all to say that a hyper-focus on the customer at this time of year is understandable, but it has to be balanced with a sensitivity to the employees serving those customers.

Staff may want or need flexibility. They may be overwhelmed by the constant pressures and non-stop action of work and home, the lack of sleep, the desire to get things done. They may need an occasional mental break, an empathetic comment from their boss, or the “gift of time.”

This should be the MOST wonderful time of the year, but often that time is so jam-packed that an organization’s greatest asset – its people – aren’t feeling the love and joy.

Find ways to provide flexibility, understanding, and the gift of time to staff.

Find some balance for the good of your team.

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Their Tone is “a Tell” – 4/4/17

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


On March 14 we shared a Tip on how to read a customer’s body language, then how to use that reading to refine your response.

You can do the same thing with the other person’s tone of voice. Whether they’re Angry, Afraid/Anxious, or Sad, the emotions can be conveyed differently through the voice. And some of these emotions require you to respond differently.

Those that are angry typically have these characteristics of their tone of voice:

  • Loud voice
  • Emphasizing every syllable (particularly if loud)
  • Emphasizing negative words
  • Rapid speech
  • Interrupting you
  • Potentially high pitch.

 
Those that are afraid, anxious, or sad typically have these characteristics of their tone of voice:

  • Series of pauses…um’s
  • Talking in a monotone voice
  • Wavering tone
  • Breaks in the strength
  • Potentially rapid speech
  • Potentially high pitch.

 
Along with listening to the other person’s words, listen to their sounds. Pay attention to the detail. It will inform your approach – which is different for anger reduction as opposed to reducing anxiety. It will tell you whether to gain control of the conversation through questions, empathy, and apology (for anger) or whether to build credibility by conveying your experience in working through situations like theirs and creating comfort by clearly describing what needs to happen next to resolve the issue (for anxiety or sadness).

The customer’s “Tell” is the voice – not necessarily just the words. And how should you respond with your own voice in these emotional situations? Keep in mind:

  • Lower and Slower – It’s hard for an irate person to continue to yell at someone speaking softly, and a slower pace reduces the energy in the conversation.
  • Inflect for Interest – They want to feel like you care; convey caring by avoiding the monotone; instead, use periodic inflection when engaging.
  • Key Word Emphasis – Highlight with your voice (with pauses or a slightly modified tone) those specific words that convey understanding, empathy, caring, and key next steps.

 
Always listen to the other person’s words, but also listen to the sounds they convey; the sounds often share the emotions that the words can hide.

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