Customer Service Tip of the Week | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But Read more

Find the Hidden Compliment - 7/26/22


The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear. In these types of complaints, the ones that are Read more

When You Know More Than They Do - 7/19/22


It was 95 degrees outside.  That’s not too bad when you’re inside and enjoying the air conditioning; but when Rachel’s A/C went out, in came Rachel’s worry.  Luckily, she knew the company to call, and a technician from Acme HVAC (fake name, real company) came out the next morning. Rachel Read more

Investigate for FACTS - 7/12/22


Sometimes the issues that we deal with don’t have an immediate resolution.  There’s unknown information and conflicting stories.  Many individuals are involved, or possibly whoever is involved is not available.  You have to investigate. For situations where you have to be clear on what occurred, make sure you’re gathering all Read more

Become a Great Teacher - 7/5/22


Are you one of those people who really liked school?  School is always made more enjoyable by great teachers and professors. Do you love sports?  Many coaches in football and basketball, in hockey and baseball view themselves as teachers…teaching the game they love to their team. True leadership is about growing Read more

Don’t Assume Their Motivation - 6/28/22


The company was instituting new human resources policies aimed at holding employees accountable for being late to work.  Employee lateness had been rising, and management wanted to make sure they reinforced the need for people to be on time. At a meeting to roll out the new policies, a leader Read more

It’s Not Always About the Outcome - 6/21/22


We want the satisfied customer.  We want the issue resolved.  We want to be able to fix the error or save the client.  We want to feel good coming out of a conversation, or feel like we have accomplished something special.  We want the “win win.” But all those great Read more

Ask: What is your goal? - 6/14/22


Through these Tips, we’ve shared our technique about how to meet the customer’s need right the first time.  It’s a conversation – a give and take with the customer where you hone in on what their true need or concern is, seeking more clarity to more quickly get to Read more

Make it Sincerely Yours - 6/7/22


I’d like to hear more.  I’m sorry about the situation.  Resolving your issue is important to me.  We appreciate your business.  Thank you for bringing this to my attention. These phrases are generally well-received depending on the situation.  But we want to make sure when we’re speaking to others that Read more

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing – 8/9/22

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

It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer!

We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things.

We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are to blame, but by blaming them, we are often whipping the emotions up.  And when we’re dealing with service recovery, we want to bring the emotions down.  We can waste a lot of time and energy dealing with emotions and never getting to a solution, so we want to find ways to deal with issues without focusing on blame.

Avoiding the You

Avoiding discussions of blame requires that we avoid discussions of You.  At a high level, we basically try to avoid the Who, and focus on the What and the When.  We literally talk about the issue, what happened, when did it happen, how did things occur.  We spend enough time on the issue only to understand the direction to go with the solution.

And with the solution, again, we focus on the What and the When, the How, and – sometimes – the Who.

So how do we avoid talking about who caused the issue?  Sometimes it’s very easy – just talk about what steps were taken without saying who took those steps.  We literally avoid the word You, and we actually use a little passive voice (When this happened… or This occurred after…).  Those are softer ways to describe an occurrence than You did this… You caused this… This problem was created by you.

Getting to the Solution

Again, we want to understand the issue well enough to get to the solution, but we don’t want to be mired in the emotion.  Sometimes it pays not to focus on who is right and who is wrong.  Instead, we need to focus on getting to the right solution as quickly as possible.

The next time you find yourself in one of these service recovery situations and the customer’s clearly in the wrong, focus on the issue and solution, and try to avoid assigning blame.

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They’re Stressed, So You Can… – 8/2/22

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Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast.

In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step – what points to cover and what points to avoid.

But today, let’s be a little less prescriptive and just talk about some Guiding Principles when you’re engaging the other person:

Avoid the Absolutes – Conveying empathy is important in these situations.  People seem to be less anxious when they feel like somebody is trying to understand them.  However, it’s best to avoid statements that convey that you are certain about what they’re feeling, that you are certain about their situation:  I know exactly how you feel. You are stressed. I know you’re nervous.

By using these statements, we’re making assumptions that they’re stressed about something.  Sure, they appear that way, but we don’t want to state the assumption as a fact, since we could either be wrong or they may take offense if we tell them how they feel.  Instead, use phraseology like: It seems…or I would understand if…or Situations like this can be…

Temper Your Tone – One way to bring nervousness down is to bring the volume down.  Try to speak more softly. Yes, still use a bit of inflection to show interest but not so much inflection that it brings higher energy into the conversation.  We’re trying to pull some of the energy and emotion out of the conversation.

Ease the Expressiveness – If you’re somebody who talks with their hands (like me!) or have lots of facial expressions, if you’re somebody who moves around a lot when they talk – these activities can keep the energy and the emotion in the conversation.

Slow your movements.  Have more of a neutral, yet somewhat positive facial expression.  Relax your shoulders and your arms, and provide a total focus on the other individual.

When the other person is stressed, we don’t want to do anything to create an even more stressful environment for them – or for us.

Avoid the Absolutes, Temper Your Tone, and Ease the Expressiveness.

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Find the Hidden Compliment – 7/26/22

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The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear.

In these types of complaints, the ones that are not as much personal as they are about process or product or technology or payments, there are often hidden compliments within the complaint.

There are two clear ways we can view these complaints based on a point in time.  In-the-moment, we have to focus on the issue and the resolution.  For the future, we can find that hidden gem of information, and oftentimes that gem is a compliment.

Why look for compliments?  First, compliments are positive, and it’s usually better for our mindset and mental health to make sure we have at least some semblance of a balance in customer service – where those positives don’t allow themselves to be overrun by all negatives.

Second, compliments tell us what customers like.  Frequently, the best way to improve is to Strengthen Our Strengths as opposed to purely fixing our organizational faults.

The room is too cold? The wait is too long? The parking spaces need to be bigger?  The view through the positive lens suggests that customers want to conduct their business in this building. They appreciate the opportunity to engage us face-to-face.  They’re willing to come to us, to reach out to us.  That method of engagement is not a barrier to our relationship with them.

The app doesn’t have a mapping function? They can’t pay with their phone? The website’s unclear?  Let’s put these complaints in a positive light.  They like that we provide an app!  They like the ability to do customer service in a self-service manner.  They want to pay for our services.  They are willing to move toward the latest technology.

When we’re dealing with that complaint, we need to be in-the-moment and focus on the issue.

But when it’s not in that moment of truth, look for opportunities to continuously improve by finding the hidden compliment in the complaint.

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