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Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

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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Build Rapport to Build Your Business – 12/6/16

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Story 1: The worried spouse called the gambler’s hotline because she was afraid her husband had a gambling problem. He had been spending lots of money on it, staying out later and later. When the hotline representative answered the call, the representative was calm and empathetic about the situation. She asked appropriate questions and gave the wife time to explain her situation. The caller was comfortable with the advice being offered and ended the call with some clear next steps, resources available, and someone she could trust to call again. She eventually utilized their resources.

Story 2: The nurse at the primary care clinic met Fred – a new patient that had switched clinics because of insurance purposes. The nurse wasn’t rude, but she didn’t smile, didn’t introduce herself, and never used the patient’s name after calling Fred in from the waiting room. She spent the entire time in the exam looking at her computer. When the doctor entered the room to meet Fred for the first time, there wasn’t necessarily tension, but there was a reserved, guarded, impersonal feel to the conversation. Fred considered finding another doctor.

Story 3: Marie needed to buy a new car, and she knew that her credit union had an auto buying service. The people at the credit union had always been friendly and she trusted them, so she decided to give it a shot. After a call and several e-mails, she noticed that no matter to whom she spoke, they were always responsive and consistently pleasant – almost happy! They gave her many details, explained processes, provided links to specific sites on the web, and were patient with Marie’s questions. She bought the car through their service.

These are three stories that had some success (Stories 1 and 3) and a probable fail (Story 2). These are all stories about the need to establish rapport. Maybe the quality of the services in Story 1, the physician’s skills in Story 2, or the auto purchase terms in Story 3 were no better or worse than the alternatives that could be considered, but the decisions to move forward with those businesses were made largely on the rapport that the employees established.

Rapport can lead to credibility, comfort, confidence, and – in the end – a decision to do business with an organization (or not).

Build rapport to build your business.

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Sympathy – the Customer Service Conundrum – 4/5/16 TOW

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The employee tried to defuse the customer who was upset by stating “I feel the same way you do right now.”

The customer service representative told the customer “I know exactly what you’re going through.”

The client was obviously unhappy, and the employee responded “I’m as frustrated as you are.”

Maybe these responses from the employee seem appropriate – or maybe they seem out of bounds. But if you’re teetering on your decision about whether these are good or bad employee statements, read the following – the same scenarios with more context.

The employee tried to defuse the long-term customer who was upset about the no-return policy by stating “I feel the same way you do right now.”

The customer service representative told the customer who had been on hold for over an hour “I know exactly what you’re going through.”

The client couldn’t get the answer to their question on the website or on the phone and was obviously unhappy having to go downtown to the company offices, and the employee responded “I’m as frustrated as you are.”

How do the employee responses seem to you now? The problem with these statements is that they are far more focused on sympathy than empathy. They are more about stating how the employee knows the exact customer situations and maybe even has the same feelings as the customer. But often, when employees try to move from sympathy to empathy, they run a big risk.

Do they know the whole customer story? Do they truly feel what the customer feels? Does a customer want an employee to sound like the real victim of poor customer service? No. No. No.

Be careful when trying to convey to the customer that you truly know the full extent of their situation and to feel their feelings. In most cases, you don’t, and that’s okay.

Instead of serving up sympathy, show empathy. You don’t have to “feel their feelings” to provide great customer service.

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