story

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Going from Negative to Nirvana – 5/2/17

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

I hate dealing with the phone company. Or the utility company. Don’t even get me started on the cable providers.

It’s often frustrating, prolonged, and not the least bit customer friendly.

When I had to embark on a conversation with one of the phone providers about issues with my landline billing, I called the customer service number on the bill. The person answered fairly quickly, was friendly, said they couldn’t help, and they would transfer me to someone who could. The phone rang twice, and a different employee picked up.

I asked if the first employee had explained my issue, and she said “No.” So I explained everything again from scratch. She, too, was friendly, and she, too, couldn’t help. She worked in the wireless area, and my question was about my office landline, so she had to transfer me.

The phone rang once, and it went into a queue. Thankfully it was answered in less than one minute by Jeffrey. As with the other employees, he was very friendly and greeted me professionally. I asked if the second employee had explained my issue, and Jeffrey said “No, unfortunately I didn’t receive a warm transfer.” I told him I was frustrated about having to keep repeating the same issue, and he apologized; then I explained everything again from scratch.

This is when the negative experience went to positive. Here are several things Jeffrey did:

  • He was patient with my description of the issue.
  • He asked questions to clarify my concern and related need.
  • He offered a resolution but asked if he could put me on hold for 2 minutes to confirm with his supervisor.
  • I was on hold less than 2 minutes.
  • He clarified the resolution and confirmed I wanted to go that route.
  • He asked if I had time to stay on the line for him to make the account changes.
  • During downtime (when the system was processing), he asked about my business, my location, sports interests based on my location, etc. He shared a little about himself as well.
  • He told me what e-mails I would start receiving from the company and confirmed I’d received them.
  • He sent me an e-mail from his account so I’d have his contact information for follow-up.
  • He told me what next steps would occur and within what timeframe.
  • He was patient with my numerous questions and didn’t close until he confirmed I had all the questions answered.
  • He closed by thanking me for my business and reminded me to please contact him when a certain item was shipped so he could help me with the final steps.

 
This was a situation that started with two friendly people but a lousy experience. Then one employee patiently, proactively, and personally turned it all around.

Find ways for your company to better communicate internally so the customer has a better experience. And learn lessons from Jeffrey to move from negativity to customer service nirvana.

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Share a Story of Success – 4/18/17

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


Rebecca was continuing through the cycle of life, and she was at the stage as a mom where her teenager was looking at colleges. Have you ever been with a teenager on a college tour? Rebecca had not, but after going on 3-4 with her child, there was one aspect that was especially interesting.

After a 20-30 minute slide presentation from an Admissions counselor at the college, the prospective students and their families were broken up into groups for a tour of campus.

Rebecca noticed that the groups she and her teenager were in (like the other groups) were led by current students. These students were typically managing 12-20 high schoolers and their parents, navigating throughout the campus – in and out of buildings – and talking the whole time. These tour guides seemed exceptionally knowledgeable, answered questions comfortably, were high-energy, and had the amazing ability to walk backwards for 60 minutes straight while describing the campus…without falling down – AMAZING!

While these college students were amazing in their tour guide capabilities, they also had one other subtle positive characteristic. Rebecca noticed that she began envisioning the guides as the students that her child would attend college with, be friends with, and be surrounded by during her college years. These were students that she and her child could relate to, and that made the comfort with as well as the confidence in the college grow.

So how does this relate to customer service?

Oftentimes our customers are like the uncertain parent or the indecisive high schooler – there’s not great confidence or comfort. Maybe there’s a little anxiety or uncertainty.

We often respond to that uncertainty by describing next steps or focusing on providing the soothing tone of voice – these are all good things. But here’s the lesson from the college tours.

Also address those emotions of uncertainty, lack of comfort, and anxiety by painting a picture for the customer of other customers similar to them who had success.

“I was working with another new client last week on a similar issue, and this is what we did to resolve things.”

“We’ve had other patients who were dealing with a similar concern, and our doctors and nurses were great at diagnosing the true issue so that we were able to help them feel better.”

“One of our other season ticket holders last year made a similar request, and we were able to find an option that worked for them, so I’m confident we’ll be able to help you.”

Use these examples to see how to paint that picture for customers that puts them in a place where a vision of their success is more clear.

To build the customer’s confidence, share a story of success about a similar customer.

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

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


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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