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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

To Banter or Not to Banter – 5/12/15 TOW

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


I love some good banter or chit-chat – it’s great for informal conversations with friends, family and co-workers. But when is it great for customer conversations?

First, let me define “Banter” in a customer context. Think of it as conversation about a topic that most likely has little to do with the customer’s need, issue, or question. You’re initiating a discussion about nothing pertinent to the conversation (e.g., Where are you calling from? Where did you get that beautiful bracelet? The weather has been crazy this year here, hasn’t it?).

So why would you ever have some light-hearted banter with the customer? There are many times:

  • When there’s downtime during the call – You want to keep the conversation going.
  • When the customer is NOT irate or angry – It’s too risky when they have that negative emotion to go off-topic – that may upset them unless you’re REALLY talented at defusing those emotions.
  • When you’re trying to learn more about them – You’re trying to show interest in them as an individual customer.
  • When it’s the beginning of the relationship – You want to know them better to serve them better.
  • When they clearly have time – Banter is more readily accepted by those more likely to be patient (not in a rush).
  • When they have NOT been waiting long – It takes time to banter – see their situation before bringing up other topics.
  • When you’re doing a task (on the computer, etc.) where they are waiting for your process to end – They won’t feel it’s a waste of time if they can tell that you’re still being productive.
  • When you’re trying to reduce the perception of wait time (such as a long stay in a waiting room) – It shows that you noticed them and are aware of them despite the fact that no service is being performed at that moment.

 
Banter? Chit-chat? Sure. Just be smart about when you do it.

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Dealing with the First-time Fan – 5/5/15 TOW

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


Customer service people, those in relationship management, those in call centers, those called service reps – they all at some point or another have to deal with the new customer. In sports, we call them the “First-time Fans.” These are the customers with the highest rate of turnover, and are therefore a huge priority for retention for organizations.

Instead of addressing the retention of the new customer from a strategic perspective, let’s look at it from the perspective of a representative. The customer is Jay. What is Jay like?

If you had to generalize Jay, he’s an unknown. You know less about Jay than any other customer in your business. He bought your service – but why? Was it a low cost offer (like a ticket discount), a service he never needed before (like outpatient surgery), or simply his moving near your business that drove him to your company?

He could be friendly, he could be open, he could be a techie, or maybe he’s a family man. He could make over $100,000 per year, he could anger easily, he could love your team, he could be impatient, or he could be very analytical.

He could be all of those things – or none.

Jay is the great unknown. He’s also beginning what could be a long journey with your organization. All customers are special, but view Jay as special in a slightly different way.

View him as a fountain of information. Someone so unknown, that that makes him intriguing. Jay is really James Bond; he’s 007; he’s someone new and exciting.

When you see Jay or the new patient, or the new customer, or the First-time Fan – get intrigued. Get inquisitive. Convey excitement about his newness.

Realize that to best meet his needs today and to keep him for the long-term, you have to get to know him. Ask questions; note the answers. Learn more and more so you can keep him longer and longer.

Let the intrigue of the new customer lead you on a quest to get to know them.

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Be a Star at Something, but NOT Everything – 8/5/14 TOW

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


I’ve often used the phrase “Customer Service Stars” to address people who are outstanding at customer service. And while I would never tell anyone not to continually improve themselves (sorry for the double negative…), I don’t think that people should have to be great at everything to be great. In fact, it’s often counterproductive to try to be great at everything you do.

Think about your product, service, and process knowledge. To have complete knowledge of all those aspects of your organization requires a tremendous amount of study and continuous review of all changes that continually happen in most organizations.

Think about having the skills that you need to handle every customer interaction – control over your body language, tone, and words. You’d need the quick ability to change direction for every call, every interaction, every meeting to perfectly address the uniqueness of every individual and their situation.

How many of us are perfect at business writing – constructing e-mails with the tone and content that maximizes the perception of the reader that we care while simultaneously giving them the best answer?

We could go to key customer service principles – responsiveness, respect, collaboration, empathy, active listening, organizational skills, etc. Who’s perfect at those?

The point is that to be great at all these and the many other things required of someone in customer service, it’s virtually impossible, and I don’t want you to feel bad about your shortcomings. Customer service is my business – literally – and I fall far short in many of these points; I just keep working on them.

So keep working on your shortcomings, but find out where you’re already great!

You have that infectious attitude. You’re very organized, and that helps you to be productive and responsive. You’re highly empathetic and/or a great listener. You’re an incredibly self-aware person, so you know how you come across with your body language, tone, and words.

While you should continuously work to be good at all the qualities and skills of Customer Service Stars, make sure you know where you are already a Star (or REALLY close), and make that trait your calling card. Make that aspect of who you are be the aspect that separates you from others. Make that characteristic of who you are or how you act help you to stand out today.

Stand out to others by finding that one thing where you can be great.

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