phrases

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

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

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


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 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

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


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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