representative

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

The Over/Under of Ted’s Talking – 2/14/17

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Ted was like many employees new to the world of customer service – great intentions creating great enthusiasm resulting in great big mistakes with the customer.

How?

The female customer asked a question (or Ted heard at least part of the question), and it triggered something in Ted’s mind. He knew the answer. He wanted to help, and BAM! He just started talking – fast and energetically. He verbally “ran over” the customer. Talking over her with his answers. He was delivering, but she was being taken aback. He thought of himself as helpful, but she thought of him as rude, not letting her finish, interrupting her in mid-sentence.

Sometimes Ted didn’t know the answer, but – again – he REALLY wanted to help. So with the customer talking, he’d turn to a co-worker and quietly start asking his more experienced peer some questions. Unfortunately, he wasn’t so quiet that the customer couldn’t hear that Ted was saying something. He was talking “under” the customer, not interrupting, per se, but talking to others while the customer was talking was coming off as rude – like the customer wasn’t worthy of Ted’s attention.

Over time, Ted was still the same energetic person as when he started, but he became more self-aware. When he would feel himself interrupting, he’d pause and say “Oh! I’m sorry. Please continue; this is really helpful.” And if he needed to ask a co-worker for guidance, he’d patiently wait for a pause from the customer, ask permission for a minute to investigate the right course of action to best help the customer, and he’d move the call to a hold.

Enthusiasm is a wonderful gift. Don’t quash it in yourself or others, but also don’t let the enthusiasm in conversations convey rudeness.

Learn the Lessons from Ted’s Talking.

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Build Rapport to Build Your Business – 12/6/16

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Story 1: The worried spouse called the gambler’s hotline because she was afraid her husband had a gambling problem. He had been spending lots of money on it, staying out later and later. When the hotline representative answered the call, the representative was calm and empathetic about the situation. She asked appropriate questions and gave the wife time to explain her situation. The caller was comfortable with the advice being offered and ended the call with some clear next steps, resources available, and someone she could trust to call again. She eventually utilized their resources.

Story 2: The nurse at the primary care clinic met Fred – a new patient that had switched clinics because of insurance purposes. The nurse wasn’t rude, but she didn’t smile, didn’t introduce herself, and never used the patient’s name after calling Fred in from the waiting room. She spent the entire time in the exam looking at her computer. When the doctor entered the room to meet Fred for the first time, there wasn’t necessarily tension, but there was a reserved, guarded, impersonal feel to the conversation. Fred considered finding another doctor.

Story 3: Marie needed to buy a new car, and she knew that her credit union had an auto buying service. The people at the credit union had always been friendly and she trusted them, so she decided to give it a shot. After a call and several e-mails, she noticed that no matter to whom she spoke, they were always responsive and consistently pleasant – almost happy! They gave her many details, explained processes, provided links to specific sites on the web, and were patient with Marie’s questions. She bought the car through their service.

These are three stories that had some success (Stories 1 and 3) and a probable fail (Story 2). These are all stories about the need to establish rapport. Maybe the quality of the services in Story 1, the physician’s skills in Story 2, or the auto purchase terms in Story 3 were no better or worse than the alternatives that could be considered, but the decisions to move forward with those businesses were made largely on the rapport that the employees established.

Rapport can lead to credibility, comfort, confidence, and – in the end – a decision to do business with an organization (or not).

Build rapport to build your business.

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Need Telephone Troubleshooting Tips? Here You Go! – 9/13/16

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I received a request for help from an Information Technology call center representative. She wanted to better herself, but she had no access to corporate training. However, she clearly knew her needs – she had difficulty troubleshooting issues on the phone with customers.

She was communicating purely verbally – no written instructions for the user, no body language to read or convey. The representative sometimes got lost in the details of the issue, so it’s hard to help a novice user if the representative herself has difficulty keeping all the facts clear and top-of-mind. Also, the representative wasn’t always certain where the user was on the system versus where the representative expected the user to be during the resolution process.

So the representative wanted guidance – what were specific, tactical things she could do to better resolve issues on the phone? Here are some thoughts – although they’re written through the I.T. lens, they apply to any telephone troubleshooting situation:

  • Tell the customer that you’re going to ask several questions, and note why you’re asking (i.e., the better you can specifically know the issue and cause, the better you can give them the right solution).
  • Be patient with the customer – they probably are frustrated and may be overwhelmed.
  • Avoid acronyms and “tech terms” – the customers are probably not as knowledgeable as you.
  • Get to the root cause before you get to the solution. That way you can address it the first time without backtracking through resolution steps to alternative solutions.
  • If you get lost in the details, draw a picture of the issue and resolution process on a piece of paper (almost like a flow chart) while talking with the customer. That way, you don’t have to rely on your memory; you can see everything on one page. Possibly have standard bubbles on the paper that address key points including: hardware system, application/software, timing (time of day, day of week), frequency (first time or recurring), system messages, key issue occurring, etc.
  • If you have trouble explaining to the customer how to troubleshoot, walk them through the typical flow on your paper. Then, after each question or step they complete, confirm with the customer that they understand. Never go to Step 5 until you’re certain they’re done with Step 4 and you know where they are after Step 4.

Review these quick telephone troubleshooting tips, and tailor them to make the issue resolution process better for you and your customers.

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