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Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

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

Reach Out and Touch Someone…Literally – 2/10/15 TOW

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


Okay, so I’m going to get in trouble with some of you for this one – but it’s an idea to consider.

When face-to-face with that co-worker or customer, sometimes a gentle touch on the shoulder or arm is appropriate or helpful. Studies have shown that hugs can create chemical reactions that can aid one’s health, feelings, and even healing. I’m no clinician, but this point isn’t clinical. It’s personal. Sometimes it’s difficult to connect with people if there’s an invisible wall not allowing any contact. It can be tough to convey we care purely with words when we’re not willing to extend our hand to the other.

It’s hard to be empathetic during those conversations where pain and hurt are involved if we keep an artificial barrier between us.

Now we don’t want to become the grocery store chain that got sued by their check-out clerks because management encouraged the clerks to make eye contact with customers and smile (some customers felt that the clerks were flirting, which led to…uh…awkward exchanges).

We don’t expect you to act like the French, where a Ken Cooper study once showed that French patrons at outdoor Paris cafés casually touched each other 110 times per hour. But it also means we don’t have to be like some Londoners (0 touches per hour) or some Floridians (2 touches per hour).

The point is that sometimes caring for others requires that we do more than check their vital signs. It means that we have to do more than say “I care.” It means that we have to do more than smile or nod. Sometimes to show we care, to go beyond “professional” to “human,” we have to provide that human touch.

It’s a hand on the arm, a gentle pat on the shoulder, shaking the hand, or placing a hand on the back.

Do what’s appropriate and what you are comfortable doing – but be willing to do something. Don’t make the short distance that you stand from another person seem infinite…or infinitely impersonal.

Bridge the gap with the human touch.

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Breaking Down the Infamous 1-on-1 Retention Call – 8/26/14 TOW

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I referenced the infamous recorded Comcast Retention call in a Tip of the Week on July 22. It’s been such a lightning rod for discussion that we just recorded a podcast addressing some of the key language that the Comcast representative used during the call. Now, we’ve gained access to what’s reported as being the company’s 13-Step Retention Call Approach. Let’s analyze this from the customer’s perspective.

  1. Greet customer clearly – This is good; customers want to know the employee’s name and department to make sure they called the right place.
  2. Clarify reason for call – We always say “Clarify and Confirm” – ask clarifying questions, then confirm your understanding. Customers want the employee showing that they know the reason for calling (and, in this case, canceling their service).
  3. Relate and empathize – Love this – especially the Empathy portion. Customers want to be understood.
  4. Take control – Not sure why this is here; “control” has a power/aggressive connotation. It’s not good to encourage representatives to get aggressive with a typically-upset customer. Customers don’t want to be controlled.
  5. Set the agenda – Again, this conveys aggression, taking over, not focused on listening.
  6. Ask targeted questions – This may be fine, depending on the definition of “Targeted.” We use that word to illustrate questions unique to the customer and their situation. However, the employee asked “targeted” questions such as “Why would you not want the fastest internet?” This is pushy and derogatory at the same time.
  7. Consider unstated needs / active listening – Active Listening is great! However, “unstated needs” is sales terminology. If someone wants to cancel, you’re in Service Recovery territory, not hardcore sales territory.
  8. Take ownership / make offer – These should work well.
  9. Overcome objections – This is fine as long as the customer’s still willing to dialogue about the issue; if they want to avoid the debate, quickly cancel and go to step 12.
  10. Close the save – Change this to “Close the save…or close the account.” In the end, do what the customer wants you to do.
  11. Confirm details – Always confirm next steps before closing.
  12. End on a positive note – Good step.
  13. Documentation – Good step.

Many of the steps are positive, but where they go wrong is that they focus too much on controlling the customer in a hardcore sales manner instead of communicating with a customer in a Service Recovery mindset.

When a customer wants to cancel or end the relationship, feel free to professionally ask for reasons, but remember that you’re delivering customer service, not driving the hard sell. You may retain just as many, and you’ll definitely avoid the horrific word-of-mouth that this call created.

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Let Them Share – 1/14/14 TOW

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Have you ever seen the TV show “Monk?” It’s about a former police detective now turned police consultant. He has a “unique” personality due to too many different life experiences to go into at this point, but let’s just say he’s not the most touchy/feely person in the world.

Every episode includes his sessions with his psychiatrist where he shares his feelings in his own “Monk way.” Sharing feelings is not natural for Monk, and he has a hard time caring about or being curious about others’ feelings as well. At least in this respect, many of us are similar to Monk.

However in customer service – especially in many of the most difficult conversations we have – emotions are involved. And if you’re like Monk, or if you have trouble sharing your own feelings with others in a personal setting (let alone a work setting), you might work hard NOT to have to have a discussion of feelings. But unfortunately for those of us not on the touchy/feely side, we have to allow those emotions to come from the customer.

When the customer is upset, angry, frustrated, or they’re envious or hurt or anxious, we cannot ignore those emotions. In order to get to a resolution in such a way as to engender trust and to have the customer feeling good about how the conversation went (even if they didn’t love the outcome), we have to let them share those emotions.

People can bring down the emotions if they are allowed to flow; they can settle down quicker if we allow them to relieve the pressure. They can think more clearly and logically and move on if they’ve been allowed to vent. Oftentimes, they don’t even want a resolution if we just give them the opportunity to share the emotions.

Now I’m NOT suggesting you ENCOURAGE them to share, but be observant of emotions. If they exist, allow them to flow, don’t interrupt, don’t argue – instead, listen and empathize, and then find the opportunity to start asking questions that move you toward solutions.

To get to the next step, to deal with someone on more sensible terms, be sensitive to their emotions.

Let them share.