listen

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

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

Libby Listened to Serve – 7/16/19

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

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 her training on the computer and phone systems, she began to work in the live environment. Day after day she took the calls from the customers, answering their questions and handling their complaints. As her supervisor would monitor her production on the phone, he noticed an alarming statistic. Her average call length was about 30 seconds longer than the organization’s target.

The supervisor needed to know why this was happening. He knew that she was a good conversationalist based on their employee meetings and her initial interviews with the company. Maybe she was talking way too much.

So he began auditing her calls, listening in for long periods of time during the day. Suddenly, several things became obvious. First, she surely was not a big talker. She had a friendly tone when she did talk, but she was actually quite quiet. Then the supervisor noted when she did talk that she would either affirm something the customer was saying or she’d ask a question. Then he realized that she was resolving their issue herself, or getting the most appropriate answer herself to the question on that one call. There would be no need for that customer to call back on that topic again. This was First Call Resolution at its best.

Then he realized her secret. She was a great listener. The customers loved talking with her, they got their items addressed, and they felt that someone cared about them. And at the same time, she didn’t talk too much, and she addressed their topics on the spot. There would be no repeat calls on the same topics from Libby’s customers.

The supervisor was so pleased with what he found that he redesigned their call-handling procedures to focus on effective listening techniques. He focused on owning the customer’s satisfaction. And he focused on using effective questioning techniques to resolve issues on the first call.

The volume of calls dropped because of the resolution, customer satisfaction soared, and employee morale grew. All because they learned how to listen.

Listen to your customers and your employees to serve them better.

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

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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 clients.

Some of the comments are rants, and some are raves, but one thing that’s interesting is their reaction to our response. Whether it’s a complaint or a compliment they share, they’re ALWAYS appreciative that we responded to their message.

In many cases, they’re probably appreciative just because – these days – too many companies don’t respond, so the customer’s expectation level for good customer service and responsiveness is really low.

But in other cases, they’re appreciative because of what we said and how we said it. We thank them, make some specific note about what they described, and – if appropriate – tell them we’re going to share their comment with our client so the client will follow-up with them directly.

The key here is making “some specific note about what they described.” This isn’t an auto-response we’re sending; it isn’t an insincere “I hear you, I hear you, I hear you” message. It isn’t a pure form letter.

They took the time to share their personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences, and we took the time to specifically acknowledge and appreciate them and what they shared.

Why do people share? They share just to share, but they also share to be heard.

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Listen Up! – 5/29/18

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When I was growing up, I would hear the phrase Listen Up frequently. It was usually being stated by adults who wanted to get the attention of a group of kids. It was usually stated loudly. It usually worked. At least for a minute or 2.

As an adult in the working world, I now find myself in customer service situations or advising clients on how to create a great customer experience. And while the phrase Listen Up has not lost its importance, it means something different today. Today, in business it relates to what employees should do with co-workers and customers. It suggests that in order for us to really solve a problem or address a need or resolve an issue, we have to be experts at listening.

So, what do experts at listening do most effectively?

They watch to observe and interpret the body language as much as they do the words. I was in a meeting recently where we were discussing certain individuals in the organization, and we were trying to uncover how they felt about a situation; it turns out that most of our conclusions were being driven by the body language they conveyed in meetings when the topics were discussed.

Experts at listening are experts at asking questions. They start with open-ended questions to let the other person share their issue, need, goal, their story or perspective. Then the listener drills down to specifics with close-ended questions to refine their understanding of the situation and the impact of potential solutions.

Listening experts let the other person talk. It seems obvious to say, but how can you listen if you’re doing all the talking? People who are great at listening let the other person talk 70-80% of the time – hearing the other’s perspective and guiding the conversation with those questions asked.

Great listeners are great at paraphrasing. They’ve listened so well that they can pause the conversation and – in their own words – explain the situation, the steps, the goals, and the desires conveyed by the other person. They can translate the body language, tone, the words and emotions of another.

Keep in mind that great listeners are often considered to be great conversationalists because the discussion flows, and the other person gets to share, feels comfortable doing so, and is speaking with someone who has an empathetic ear.

The art of listening is key to great conversations and great customer service.

Listen Up!

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