story

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with 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.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page

 


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.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page


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.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page