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Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

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


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 Read more

Locke-in from the Start - 12/8/20


John Locke was a 17th century English philosopher, physician, and researcher.  He wrote many papers arguing particular points, oftentimes using reason and facts as the basis for his position.  He noted that many disagreements start because there is – in my words – a lack of real clarity about Read more

The End of the Tunnel - 12/1/20


Have you ever heard the expression:  There’s light at the end of the tunnel… In this COVID-era world, it sure does feel like the tunnel is long, doesn’t it?  It sure feels like this is not a light that we’ll be at in 2 seconds after the train goes another Read more

A Lesson in Gratitude - 11/24/20


Mr. Robinson went to the hardware store with his teenaged son, Steve.  Steve was starting his first woodworking project – building a small coffee table – and needed supplies.  As they walked the aisles, Mr. Robinson and Steve couldn’t find the exact type of wood they wanted, so Mr. Read more

Why Your Job is Important - 11/17/20


I was speaking with a client recently, and she was telling me about one of the classes delivered by their professional development team. Her description of the course reminded me of some client workshops we’ve conducted where a part of the outcome is having individual staff develop Personal Mission 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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