stress

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

In-the-Moment Stress Relief – 3/20/18

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


It is totally understandable why anyone would feel stress as a customer service representative. You may be dealing with complaints constantly. You have the internal pressure of making a quick call while adhering to a 2-inch binder’s worth of policies. You can hear the pain, the anger, and the urgency in the customer’s voice.

You are asked to juggle information, technology, empathy, procedures, and the uncontrollable – the other person.

I can’t provide every answer that will help you alleviate stress in the next 200 words. That would be unrealistic. But what I can do is offer you some quick tips on how to deal with stress in-the-moment:

  • Don’t think of a horror that might occur in the future. Stay in the moment. Focus on what IS instead of the negative what could be.
  • Breathe nice deep breaths. Let your breathing settle your heart beat.
  • Ask the other person questions more than feeling like you have to react with the perfect answers. The questions buy you time and provide you with information.
  • Remember how similar situations turned out well in the end. Remember that you have gotten through this before, and you’ll get through this, too.
  • Think about how to help the other person more than how the situation impacts you. Moving your thoughts away from how it affects you and toward helping others reduces stress.
  • Write down the facts you are learning during the conversation. Documenting is an activity that occupies the mind and the body.

When you’re feeling that in-the-moment stress, utilize these practices to calm yourself.

Use self-care to reduce stress.

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How to Keep Your Cool – 2/6/18

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


You’ve had a rough day. It seems like the complaints keep coming. You want to work through your projects, but you find yourself fighting fires instead. And then you get that call – it’s a customer with another complaint or your boss with another urgent request, and you’re going to lose your cool…but you can’t.

You have to take the call. You have to help the other person, but the more they talk or gripe or pull at you or pick at you, the more your temperature rises.

In times like this, remember the BBB technique:

  • Breathe – This can be one of the best things you can possibly do in times of stress. Deep breaths in, hold for a couple seconds, then breathe it all out. Make sure it doesn’t sound like you just ran a sprint, but let the breathing keep your body in check.
  • Break – It’s often a good idea to ask the person if they could hold for just a minute so you can do some research or tell them you need to briefly check on something relating to their topic. Once they’re OK with it, put them on hold – literally take a break (even if it’s just 30 seconds or a minute). It gives you time to gather yourself, to think to pause to breathe, and it even may give them time to settle down. When you come back on the line, immediately thank them for their patience.
  • Get Back-to-Basics – Focus on the facts; ask them for details. Have them tell you the basics – what happened (or what do they need) on what date, at what time, sent to what e-mail address. Literally write down what they’re telling you, and confirm it back to them. When you’re focused on data and they’re focused on data, emotions tend to dissipate.

 
When you feel the heat and your temperature is rising, get your cool back.

Employ the BBB technique.

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‘Got to’ v. ‘Get to’ – 3/7/17

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I was at a community collaborative meeting in Charlotte recently, where 100+ representatives of different organizations gathered. They were from local governmental, not-for-profit, and private businesses. Large and small organizations were represented…

As a part of a brief exercise, the meeting facilitator asked everyone to stand and to get into groups of 2-3. She asked them to tell the others in their group one thing that “they have GOT to do this week.” The conversations ensued, and after 4-5 minutes, the facilitator wrapped them up.

Then she asked them to tell the others in their group one thing that “they GET to do this week.” The conversations began, and the energy in the room (and volume!) picked up dramatically.

It was an interesting exercise as a participant and observer. There was a general sense of stress or worry in the first conversation. In the second conversation, there was more laughter, more noise, more smiles, more positive body language.

In a few cases the “Got to” matched the “Get to.” For those people, it’s especially positive to them that what they’ve GOT to do this week is also something that jazzes them and excites them – it’s also something they GET to do.

It’s great if you’re in a job where your “Got to’s” are naturally “Get to’s”, but if you’re not in that situation (or at least you don’t think you’re in that situation), consider a mindset shift.

Instead of “I’ve GOT to talk to this griping customer,” it’s “I GET to bring some sunshine into this person’s day.”

Instead of “I’ve GOT to deal with all these impatient family members waiting at the hospital,” it’s “I GET to offer some comfort and confidence to others.”

What are your “GOT to’s?” Find ways to look at them positively. Find ways to make them “GET to’s.”

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