empathy

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

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

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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Read their Wordless Emotions – 3/14/17

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Consumer research studies have shown that customers who engage employees typically bring 1 of 5 emotions into the conversation: Anger, Fear, Sadness, Contentment, or Happiness.

Let’s focus on the first 3 – the tougher emotions of Anger, Fear, and Sadness. They are very different emotions where – in the first case – the person is angry in general, at something, about something or their situation or an individual.

Fear is often a sense of being worried or panicked about the future, the unknown, the next step.

Sadness often is from a depression or a feeling of helplessness about their situation.

When you’re interacting with others, you deal with them differently based on the emotions they convey. You’ll want to defuse the Angry customers, gain control of the conversations, convey some empathy, possibly apologize, and deliver on a solution. With the Fear and Sadness, you go heavier on the empathy, asking them about themselves, telling them about yourself and your related experience to build their confidence. You’re explicit on what the next steps will be to make the “future” known.

But how do you know what emotion they’re conveying? Well, you can tell often without having to even hear them say a word.

Those that are angry typically have these characteristics of body language:

  • Crossed arms
  • Rolling eyes
  • Rapid movement/gestures
  • Clenched fists
  • Shoulders up
  • Pointing
  • Leaning (too) close in – to your/others’ personal space
  • Furrowed brow.

 
Those that are afraid/sad typically have these characteristics of body language:

  • Little/no eye contact
  • Head shaking while looking at information
  • Fidgeting
  • Sweating
  • Hand over the mouth
  • Blank stares
  • Glassy eyes/tears.

 
Begin reading others through their body language. Before they even say a word, you can gauge their emotions and prepare yourself to respond appropriately.

Read their wordless emotions to respond in the right way.

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