empathy

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

To Dream the Impossible Dream – 12/1/15 TOW

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


Anybody a Frank Sinatra fan? The song “To Dream the Impossible Dream” was a hit for him, and the lyrics as well as the build-to-a-crescendo music can send chills down your spine. It can inspire. It can make you believe you can do what may not seem possible…to run where the brave dare not go…to right the unrightable wrong…to reach the unreachable star…or to teach someone how to be empathetic.

Okay, empathy was not in the lyrics, but when I’ve often stated that empathy is the most important characteristic for someone to have to be great at customer service, it begs the question “What do we do about employees who are not necessarily empathetic?”

After all – can you really teach empathy? Yes and no.

No, you can’t teach someone to have that natural tendency toward trying to understand others, to be able to readily see life through the eyes of those different from themselves.

But yes, you can teach the benefits of and need for empathy. You can teach the intellectual components of empathy. You can show what empathetic tone of voice and body language look like to others.

From the “intellectual components” perspective, empathy is conveyed – in part – by people who appropriately probe to learn about others. We can teach staff to say “Help me understand what happened” or “I want to learn about the background” or “Tell me about your situation.” Asking the questions helps to create the understanding by having that other person – the customer or co-worker – share their thoughts, perspective, opinions, feelings, background, and history.

You can convey empathy by stating your understanding of what the customer just stated. You can stop other activities, make the eye contact, nod periodically as the customer talks, and document what they said to show you’re listening, to remember what they said, and to convey you care.

Dream the impossible dream. Teach the tools that help staff to become more empathetic.

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Making the Most of Millennial Moments – 9/1/15 TOW

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Millennials are an exceptionally large and growing segment of the customer base of many businesses. They are a unique – and in some ways – demanding group. And when it comes to customer service, there are a few tricks of the trade to consider.

First, avoid the assumption that all Millennials are the same – that they’re all tech geniuses with little interest in two-way verbal communication. Millennials are as varied as baby boomers and Gen X. Still work to view each one as an individual, regardless of age.

Second, although they’re not all the same, they have stronger characteristics that many preceding generations. They are typically very tech savvy, so when communicating with them, the web-based, self-service option may be preferable to them. So “teach them how to fish” for the future while you’re fishing for an answer to their question in the present.

Third, realize that their definition of rudeness may differ from yours. Looking at a smart phone while engaged with an employee might seem rude to the staff person, but it’s part of the highly wired nature of the Millennial customer. Avoid the urge to react negatively to the customer; they don’t intend to be rude – they just haven’t learned the appropriate etiquette yet.

Fourth, realize it’s (almost) all about speed. Some Millennials are upset if a friend hasn’t replied to a text immediately; they’re upset if the website doesn’t load in 1-2 seconds. They get concerned if someone doesn’t “like” their social media post in the first 5 minutes. That expectation for speed impacts their desired customer service experience. They want swift responsiveness – provide it or be intentional about managing expectations immediately.

Finally, go for mutual respect. Speed isn’t everything; respect is huge to these customers. Although they’re young, they’re typically smart, opinionated, and understand they’re important. While the wisdom of age may not have become part of their top personal qualities yet, they want to feel respected.

When managing those Moments of Truth with Millennials, look at each one as unique, be an educator, be aware that they may not see their own perceived rudeness, be responsive, and convey respect.

Make the most of Millennial moments.

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Rudeness is an Issue – How to Avoid it – 8/11/15 TOW

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According to a recent times.com article, there are several top reasons why customers get frustrated with customer service. Tied for the biggest frustration is dealing with rude customer service representatives. Survey results noted that 75% of customers are “highly annoyed by rude or condescending employees.”

While many of us feel that we’re generally pleasant people, even the most pleasant individuals can run the risk of coming off as rude or condescending. This perception by others can come from the tone of voice, the actual words used, or body language in face-to-face situations.

In order to ensure that the answer you give or solution provided does not reflect negatively on you, here are several things you can do to avoid being perceived as rude or condescending:

  • Watch Subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) Tone Issues – Avoid the “huffs” or frustrated sighs, and don’t let your booming voice dominate them.
  • Avoid Using “you” if Discussing Blame – Don’t do this: “If you would have just done ABC, this wouldn’t have been an issue.”
  • Convey Some Empathy – There’s a difference between a coldly delivered “That’s against policy” and an empathetic “Unfortunately we’re not able to do ABC for this reason, but let’s talk about what we CAN do for you.”
  • Effectively Move to the Hold or Transfer – Don’t put someone on hold or transfer unless you first ask and explain why you’re making the move.
  • Consider the Body Language – Avoid the eye rolls, folded arms, smirks, a lack of focus on the customer, and – ugh – putting your hand up in the “stop” position.
  • Don’t Rush the Customer – This is by far the most frequent cause of perceived rudeness – even when customers are dealing with kind customer service representatives. Lacking patience, talking quickly, giving short answers, interrupting the other person, and not confirming that the customer got their need met are all drivers of that perception of a rude employee.

 
Avoid rudeness – the customer’s hot button with customer service.

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