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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

It’s NOT about the Cinnamon – 12/15/20

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

It was happening again.  Jessica had just handed the freshly made concoction to her coffee shop customer, and less than a minute later, the customer was in Jessica’s face, red as a beet, ranting and raving:  I specifically asked for extra cinnamon on top!  Does this look like extra cinnamon?!  I think not!

Jessica immediately was shocked at the customer’s reaction, but after a couple seconds settled into the encounter.  She had experienced this many times before from customers.  Maybe she or staff got the order a little bit wrong, or maybe they got it entirely right, but the customer wasn’t satisfied.  And while she appreciated customers letting her know if something wasn’t done perfectly, sometimes how the customers shared their concerns went overboard.  The rant did not justify the reason for the rant.

But Jessica had a little mantra she told herself.  And in this case, she repeated it to herself as the customer ranted:  It’s not about the cinnamon, Jessica.  It’s not about the cinnamon, Jessica.

Jessica knew that if customers went overboard about something, that overreaction was rarely just about the issue being discussed.  Maybe the issue precipitated the interaction, but the overreaction told Jessica that there was something else going on with this customer.  Maybe the customer was having a bad day.  Maybe they were late for work or had been cussed out by their boss.  Maybe they were tired of the 15 Zoom calls they had had that week and just needed to vent.

It could be something bigger picture going on in their lives that was creating stress or strain or the need for a release. Jessica kept her emotions in line by realizing why the customer was out of line.

Sometimes when dealing with difficult customers, the hardest thing to do is to deal with our own emotional reaction to those difficult customers.  And when those customers are being unreasonable or going overboard in their reactions, it helps for us to understand, it’s not all about us.  It’s not all about our process, our product, or our people.

Sometimes people deal with issues in their own lives by transferring those feelings and overreacting to other things with other people.  It doesn’t make the negative emotions that you and I have to deal with okay, but understanding this may help us when managing our own emotions.

It helps us to remember…it’s not about the cinnamon.

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When Customers are…Jerks – 7/14/20

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

Some people are a little extra…uh…difficult to deal with these days. Customers may have concerns or complaints – many of which are justified. But some customers act like…well…jerks. They’re not kind or understanding or have any idea how poorly they treat others. They’re obnoxious and yet, we still have to serve them.

So when you’re engaged with a customer and the phrase (“What a jerk!”) pops into your mind, let that acronym – J.E.R.K. – help you deal with them:

  • Just calm yourself down. Don’t match emotion for emotion – that will just raise the tension and lengthen the encounter. Remember their negativity is not about you – even if they’re directing it AT you. Use the techniques that work best for you for calming your mind and your pulse.
  • Empathize with them. Empathy always is a key ingredient in reducing emotion, because it takes away the sense that they’re in a fight. It makes them feel that – while you may not be “for” them – at least you’re not against them. Show that you understand their situation even if you don’t agree with their point.
  • Redirect toward a solution. The longer you’re mired in a talk about who’s to blame or what went wrong, the longer it can take to get it right. Yes, let them speak their peace, but segue to discussions of next steps, what you or they can do, what it would take to get it right.
  • Know your Plan B. Who do you go to or bring in when “JER” doesn’t work – a supervisor, security? What compensation can you offer – the remuneration tools the company provides or the alternatives that you can suggest? Can you take down the information and call them back at a specified time? Know what Plan B’s are available for you in these types of situations.

 

Do your best to do what’s best…when the customer is being a J.E.R.K.

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LEAD them Away from Anger – 3/24/20

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

Last week we addressed keeping our personal sanity.  This week, let’s discuss dealing with customer insanity.  That may not be the best choice of words, but many customers are overreacting.  In last week’s Tip, we discussed dealing with emotions of anxiety and nervousness from customers, but many customers are also quicker to frustration or anger.

I witnessed this last week when picking up dinner curbside at a restaurant.  The employee was new (1 week on the job) and had never worked curbside before that day.  The restaurant had just closed for inside serving, so this was the first purely takeout day.  The staff had to be stressed.  There were 4 cars, the 1 employee working curbside, other cars were arriving, and service was understandably slow.

I couldn’t hear much of what the other customers said to the employee, but the facial expressions and body language conveyed impatience, frustration, and a little anger.  No empathy for the employee.  No understanding for the restaurant that had probably laid off most of their workforce the prior day.

While we – in customer service – need to have empathy for customers, we can’t assume they’ll have the same for us.  They may be triggered quickly, and they may be impatient and unload emotions on us.  So, this is a good time to refresh on our LEAD technique to defuse the angry customer:

  • Listen to the Customer – Let them vent; then start asking questions with options (such as a Yes/No variety or “Did it happen Tuesday or Wednesday?”) or seeking facts. Get them to think and respond objectively, factually.
  • Empathize with Their Situation – Convey your understanding of their situation and feelings. “I can understand how this could be frustrating.”
  • Accept Responsibility – Apologize if the company did something wrong such as “On behalf of the organization, I apologize.” If there’s really nothing to apologize for, at least say the magic words “I’m sorry,” even if all you’re doing is empathizing.  Offer “I’m sorry you’re in that situation.” or “I’m sorry that it happened.”
  • Deliver on the Remedy – Then, transition to a solution. “Let’s see what we can do about this for you.”

 

LEAD them away from anger to a solution.

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