phrases

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

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

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

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

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


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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Do This, Not That! – 1/9/18

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Several years ago, a relative introduced me to the book “Eat This, Not That!” One version of the book operated off that premise that if you have to eat at a particular restaurant, eat THIS option (not THAT option), because it’s healthier.

Now, let’s have some fun! Let’s apply the THIS/THAT approach to the phrases we use in customer service.

When a hospital patient is nervous or anxious, Say THIS -> We’ve helped many patients who have had the same treatment, and they’ve gotten through the process with positive results. (Build their confidence)

Not THAT -> Stop complaining. It’s not that big a deal. (Don’t downplay the person’s right to feel what they feel)

When a sports ticket holder is upset, Say THIS -> I can understand the frustration, and I’m sorry there was an issue with the seats. Let’s see what we can do about this for you. Can I have your account number, please? (Empathize and apologize; transition to a next step; ask them an objective question)

Not THAT -> What’s your account number? (Don’t ignore their desire for you to take SOME responsibility prior to moving to the solution)

When a customer calls with a complaint about the company and makes it personal about you, Say THIS -> I’d like to help you, Mr. Smith, but we need to be able to discuss it professionally. If that’s possible, I’m happy to talk more now, or – as an alternative – we can schedule a call to discuss again tomorrow, or I’m happy to get someone else to help you. Which option would you prefer? (Don’t take the abuse, but let them know your expectation for how you’ll be treated, and share alternatives)

Not THAT -> If you’re going to be a $%^&#!, I’m not talking to you! (Even though you may want to fire back, don’t feed into it and escalate the conversation; don’t sink to their level and make it personal)

There aren’t always perfect phrases for these situations, but there are characteristics of what to say and not say when faced with these challenges.

Do This, Not That!

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