empathy

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


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 Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

Be Understanding if You Don’t Understand – 7/21/15 TOW

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


Why is this person so wigged out? This customer won’t make eye contact with me – weird. I really have no idea why they’re asking me that question. Of all the things to complain about, they chose THAT?

People are different. Some people fly off the handle when they’re put on hold for even ten seconds while others patiently wait 15-20 minutes as long as there’s nice music. I conducted training for a hospital once, where – at the break – two things happened; one person complained that the room was too hot, and another person went to their office to get a sweater because the room was too cold.

I don’t claim to understand everyone; what I think is irrational, unprofessional, or rude may be deemed appropriate behavior by others. What I consider to be a minor issue is a federal offense to others.

The lens through which I see the world is not the same as everyone else. And while the world’s a more interesting place because of that, those varied lenses can make delivering great customer service that much more difficult.

So even though we should “seek to understand,” sometimes we just can’t. In those cases, still be understanding of that human being on the phone, behind the e-mail, or facing you at that moment. Even if the complaint, the issue, the reaction, their body language or tone is so foreign to you that you can’t understand it or why it’s happening, still try to understand it’s a human being who’s being human.

This is why empathy is so important. You don’t have to “feel their pain” to convey you care about them as a person. You don’t have to understand WHY they’re frustrated to understand THAT they’re frustrated.

When you don’t understand, it’s okay. Know that despite all you don’t understand coming from that individual, sometimes the best thing is just to be understanding.

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Know the Person’s Story – 6/23/15 TOW

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


The person standing in front of you – that customer – has an issue. They were overcharged, received a past due penalty because they didn’t get it rectified in time, and want it all corrected with the penalty waived.

You’ve dealt with a similar issue 100 times, so you know the process, but do you know the person?

Let’s see…

Prior to standing in front of you, that customer waited 8 minutes in line. Prior to that, they rode a cramped (and somewhat smelly) elevator to your floor. Before that, they waited 3 minutes for an elevator.

Prior to finding the elevator, they walked/jogged in a driving rain from the back section of the parking lot to the building. Prior to that, they drove past your building because of poor signage and had to go around the block again to get back to the entrance. Before that, they drove 25 minutes to get to your offices.

Three days prior to that, they called your organization’s general number, waited on hold for 3 minutes, and then were told they’d have to come downtown with proof of the overbill to get the issue rectified. Prior to that, they tried to find out how to fix it by going to your website, but they spent more than 15 minutes online, including an attempted live chat, and couldn’t get an answer.

Two days before that, they got in an argument with their spouse who saw the past due notice and saw how much he THOUGHT she paid for the service before realizing it was overcharged.

Two weeks prior to that, the customer left a voice mail for an employee that was never returned. A week prior to that, the customer received the initial invoice.

Let’s revisit where we’re at right now. They’re standing in front of you with an issue you’ve addressed 100 times. The transaction should take 3 minutes.

You now know the full story. What are you going to do differently?

Know the story of the person behind the problem.

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Compliment the Customer – 4/21/15 TOW

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


Bob’s home phone (the landline) was not working, and he had called the phone company (using his cell phone) to get it addressed; it worked for an hour and then stopped working again. Bob called the phone company again two days later and noted that the problem had reappeared. The automated system walked him through some questions and remotely rebooted the “gateway,” but the problem persisted. So he called back a third time to talk to a customer service representative. And while there was no resolution, the representative – Vernon – scheduled a service appointment for a technician.

Twice near the end of the call, Vernon told the customer “you’re very nice” (in a platonic, very appreciative tone). He truly appreciated Bob not getting upset; he appreciated Bob working with him on different options to resolve the issue.

This was not a scripted “Thank you for calling” or “I appreciate your business.” This was a sincere compliment to the customer.

Why did the representative provide this compliment? Because if you work in the world of customer service, you know what it’s like to deal with the angry, rude, and unrealistic customers. You know what it’s like to suffer the slings and arrows for the errors of others.

So you also know what it feels like to run across someone who’s not like that at all. You appreciate those customers that are kind, despite their frustration. You appreciate those who are patient even when having an issue. You enjoy the nice person, the empathetic client, the one who asks about you and compliments you.

You appreciate them and those qualities they offer when they could – instead – be negative.

In customer service, you’re often trying to make the experience special for the customer.

Compliment the customer when they make an encounter special for you.

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