phrases

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

Know What You Don’t Know – 11/5/19

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

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions.

In the world of customer service, basing actions on assumptions is a risk we shouldn’t take, and it’s a risk we do not need to take either.  Taking action is work. Taking action also requires a customer’s time and almost always has some kind of an impact on the customer.  So before we take an action, let’s make sure we know what we need to know.

When responding to a customer need, briefly in your mind run through a mental checklist.  Run through the 5 W’s:  Do you know the Who, What, When, Where, and Why?  If not, these are questions you can ask the customer to give you the information you need before you take action:

  • Who – The name of the person with the need or those involved in the request.
    • Can I get your name, please?
    • Who needs this service?
    • Can I get the name of the person needing this item?
    • To whom am I speaking?
  • What – A description of what they want done.
    • Which service do you need?
    • What would you like done?
    • Which item are we discussing?
  • When – A common understanding of timeframe – when it’s needed.
    • By when do you need this done?
    • When do you need to receive this item?
    • What date are you considering?
  • Where – The location where something needs to take place.
    • Where does this need to be held?
    • Where are you located?
    • To where does this need to be delivered?
  • Why – An understanding of the other person’s goal.
    • What are you hoping to accomplish?
    • What’s your ultimate goal?
    • Can you help me understand the result you’re looking to achieve?

Before you take action for the customer, first know what you don’t know.  Then get to know what you need to know to address the need right the first time.

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Fix the Unfixed Issue for Your Customer – 1/23/18

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Here it comes again. It’s the issue that came to your attention last week but still hasn’t been fixed. It’s a glitch on the website, it’s a backorder issue, or it’s a new phone system causing the average wait time to double. You know about the issue, but – worse yet – your customers know about the issue. So how do you handle it when the customer brings it to your attention?

First, empathize and admit knowledge. Convey your understanding of the other person’s frustrations as you would with any complaint. Do not try to hide the issue. Tell them that you’re aware of it.

Second, note what is being done to resolve the problem. Tell them in general what is being done to address the issue. Even if it is a statement such as “We have a team looking at it” or “Our tech folks are investigating” or “The system is in the process of being upgraded” – those brief statements suggest that resolution is underway, and complaints of customers like the one that you’re talking with are being taken seriously. Don’t dwell on the details of the issue or all the specific actions being taken to rectify the concerns. This can get the conversation off track or going down negative path.

Transition to a near-term solution. Quickly move toward some alternatives that the customer could consider in the meantime. These are typically actions that YOU can take as opposed to having the customer go through several steps on their own to fix a problem that was caused by the company. For example, you could transition with statements such as: “Fortunately, we do have a couple other options for you to consider” or “However, there is some good news…” or “While we’re updating the website, here is what I can do for you right now…”

When dealing with a known issue, don’t ignore it, try to hide, or argue with the customer about it. Instead, empathize, admit knowledge, note the action being taken so they won’t have to deal with this again in the future, and quickly transition to an alternative.

Fix today’s customer issue even before the real issue is resolved for tomorrow’s customer.

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Groucho Marx and 8 Times More – 1/16/18

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Groucho Marx once asked “What would you rather believe? What I say, or what you saw with your own eyes?”

Now, my answer would be “I’d rather believe BOTH!” But, if the question was “What do you believe?”, then – for most people – the answer leans toward “What I saw.”

Research has shown that in face-to-face conversations, people are 8 times more likely to draw their conclusions about you based on your body language than based on your words.

So even if you try to think of the perfect thing to say, they’re noticing your posture, what direction you’re facing, your arms, your eyes and mouth, and your hand gestures.

The words you say are like the words written on the page of a children’s book, but how you physically appear to the other person often is like the page’s illustration that is more memorable to a high percentage of the readers.

So, face the customer or co-worker, with shoulders parallel to those of the other person. Be conscious of your eyes and eyebrows – using them to convey focus and interest in what’s, well, interesting!

Nod to confirm agreement or understanding, smiling to establish rapport and convey warmth. Have good posture – professional enough to convey confidence without appearing rigid.

Use hands and arms to convey openness and interest, and have a slight body lean forward when you’re listening to convey that what they’re saying is important.

It’s the little things that matter to many, and these little non-verbal things matter 8 times more to many people than what you say.

Send the right message to what they’re seeing with their own eyes.

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