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Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

Of Carly Simon and Corey Feldman - 12/4/18


Anticipation. It's a fine song by Carly Simon. She talks about how it (anticipation) is making her late, and it is keeping her waiting. The song is also the theme for the cheesy Corey Feldman 1970s Heinz Ketchup commercial. But that definition of “Anticipation” talks about the Read more

Use Customer Comments to Continuously Improve - 11/27/18


It’s that time of year when all good Americans due their duty – to purchase holiday gifts online. Okay, maybe it’s not as much a duty as it is a joy or chore, depending on your point-of-view. Before I purchase anything online, I seek out reviews. This may Read more

No Matter How You Say It, Say Thanks! - 11/20/18


Gracias. Grazie. Gratias tibi. Obrigado. Tack. Merci. Danke. Thank You. No matter how you say it, say it. Say Thank You. You can say Thank You in many different languages (shout out to Google Translate for what's written above!). You can say it 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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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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Their Tone is “a Tell” – 4/4/17

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


On March 14 we shared a Tip on how to read a customer’s body language, then how to use that reading to refine your response.

You can do the same thing with the other person’s tone of voice. Whether they’re Angry, Afraid/Anxious, or Sad, the emotions can be conveyed differently through the voice. And some of these emotions require you to respond differently.

Those that are angry typically have these characteristics of their tone of voice:

  • Loud voice
  • Emphasizing every syllable (particularly if loud)
  • Emphasizing negative words
  • Rapid speech
  • Interrupting you
  • Potentially high pitch.

 
Those that are afraid, anxious, or sad typically have these characteristics of their tone of voice:

  • Series of pauses…um’s
  • Talking in a monotone voice
  • Wavering tone
  • Breaks in the strength
  • Potentially rapid speech
  • Potentially high pitch.

 
Along with listening to the other person’s words, listen to their sounds. Pay attention to the detail. It will inform your approach – which is different for anger reduction as opposed to reducing anxiety. It will tell you whether to gain control of the conversation through questions, empathy, and apology (for anger) or whether to build credibility by conveying your experience in working through situations like theirs and creating comfort by clearly describing what needs to happen next to resolve the issue (for anxiety or sadness).

The customer’s “Tell” is the voice – not necessarily just the words. And how should you respond with your own voice in these emotional situations? Keep in mind:

  • Lower and Slower – It’s hard for an irate person to continue to yell at someone speaking softly, and a slower pace reduces the energy in the conversation.
  • Inflect for Interest – They want to feel like you care; convey caring by avoiding the monotone; instead, use periodic inflection when engaging.
  • Key Word Emphasis – Highlight with your voice (with pauses or a slightly modified tone) those specific words that convey understanding, empathy, caring, and key next steps.

 
Always listen to the other person’s words, but also listen to the sounds they convey; the sounds often share the emotions that the words can hide.

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