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Find a Connection Point – Part 1: Personal Connection - 9/27/22


Some people are born almost like a master at communication.  They know how to establish rapport with just about anybody, and they do so in a way that seems so natural and so real.  They can form relationships and be laughing with somebody they met two minutes ago like Read more

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t - 9/13/22


I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often - what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel. But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how Read more

The Good, the Really Good, and the Ugly of Customer Service - 8/30/22


Here are three helpful customer service stories.  They may not be from your specific industry, but it’s always good to learn from others. The Good… Paula submitted a ticket to the I.T. vendor.  Below the signature line in the reply she received was the following:  Please share your comments or needs Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff Read more

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss - 8/16/22


“I want to talk to your supervisor.” That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody Read more

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

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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Love is never having to say you’re sorry – 11/6/18

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Love Story – great movie. Alli McGraw. Ryan O’Neal. And a surprisingly poor rating on Rotten Tomatoes – but I digress. The most famous line from the movie is “Love is never having to say you’re sorry…”

Unfortunately, great customer service isn’t about love, per se. Many customers want to hear “I’m sorry” before they can settle down, move on, and forgive/forget.

So how do you say I’m sorry?

The Terrible Transfer – Let’s say that you answer the phone, and the customer immediately tells you they’ve already been transferred 4 times. Consider saying “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. That’s not how we like to do things around here.” Then do the following; either: (A) Make sure you personally take care of the need, (B) Make a “warm” transfer once you identify the employee who can help and that they’re available, or (C) Offer to take their contact information and call them back with the answer.

The Technology Troubles – Let’s say that a customer is trying to understand how to use some technology platform your company provides or navigate your website, and they’re having issues. Consider saying: “I apologize for the difficulties in getting the system working.” You could then offer to walk them through the process on the phone, staying on the line until it works; you could offer to visit them to educate them on the process; you could also provide documentation on the key steps to getting their need addressed.

The Protracted Process – Maybe it’s a situation where a process is taking way too long (whether they want to get an application approved, get a meeting scheduled, get a return or request addressed). You could state: “Sorry that the process it taking longer than anticipated. I’ll personally make sure we get this addressed quickly.” After you’ve received details on the situation, take 2 approaches. First, immediately work on the issue and/or bring in someone to get the need addressed. Second, communicate actions to the customer while the process is in place (to manage expectations and keep them in-the-loop) and when the process is completed (to ensure they know the process was done and to confirm satisfaction).

Unfortunately, great customer service DOES MEAN that sometimes you have to say you’re sorry.

Handle apologies with aplomb.

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Dealing with the Issue of Blaming – 9/11/18

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He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven.

A bad workman blames his tools.

Blame is like the lightning; it hits the highest.

Let’s talk about blame. Often in the world of customer service, we are responding to an issue or a complaint, and usually there is a cause for that complaint. Highlighting the cause, if done incorrectly, often includes blame. But we need to understand what blame does and does not do.

Blame does not move someone closer to a resolution. Blame does not build rapport and relationships. Blame does not keep the issue from arising again. Blame does not keep the conversation in an even and professional tone. Blame does not allow for acceptance of personal responsibility by the “blamer.”

Instead, blame can be like the lightning. It can cause the damage. It can make a loud noise. It can create an adversarial situation or adversaries. It can cause us to look at others or at other things to identify what they did wrong instead of looking at ourselves for what we could do differently next time.

In other words, blame doesn’t really get us anywhere. And when you are in a difficult situation with a customer or a coworker, you need to get SOMEWHERE. You need to find some common ground. You need to figure out how to move forward. You need to find some kind of a solution or some kind of a way to a next step. You need to figure out how to maintain or build a relationship.

When dealing with difficulties with others, avoid blame. Don’t blame the tools or the dance floor.

Look for positive and productive ways to move forward.

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