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Find a Connection Point – Part 2: Situational Connection - 10/4/22


Last week we highlighted key topics to consider when you want to find Personal Connection Points with the customer.  Today, we’ll cover some key questions to ask to uncover information about today’s situation that you can use to establish a rapport with the customer.  This is Part 2 - Read more

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

“I’m Sorry” Doesn’t Mean “I’m Guilty” – 12/14/21

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

Individuals and organizations mess up; that’s part of life…

They told me that they were going to be at my home at a certain time; they were REALLY late.  The customer service representative said they would get a message to a co-worker, and the co-worker would call me back; I never got a call.  A salesperson promised what the company could do; the team that had to deliver the service could not meet the unrealistic expectations set by the salesperson.

In every situation, employees attempted to find an alternative solution. In not one case did anybody say “I’m sorry.”

That omission bugged me, and it took me a minute to figure out why.  Then it was clear – they looked for the solution without ever acknowledging the situation that caused the need for the solution.

None of these organizations acknowledged they’d done something wrong.  In not one of these cases did the person resolving the issue cause the issue, so maybe they didn’t want to admit guilt.

In situations like this, however, saying “I’m sorry” is not an admission of personal guilt.  It’s showing organizational accountability.  While I understand people don’t want to admit guilt (especially if they’re not “guilty” of anything), they could still say “on behalf of the organization, I apologize.”  By saying that, they’re not accepting personal responsibility, but they’re acknowledging that the organization caused the problem.

Some people won’t say “I’m sorry” because they feel it’s a sign of weakness.  But we shouldn’t view service recovery situations as battles where one person wins and the other loses.  Instead, we should look at it as an opportunity to save a relationship, to help a customer, to serve others, to retain their business.

It’s not a sign of weakness to admit fault.  It’s a sign of strength and humility to acknowledge an issue.

When your co-worker or your organization makes a mistake with a customer, make an apology a part of your response.

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Employee Runs for a Dog Run – 3/12/19

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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 escape, a friend gave me the idea of creating a dog run.

Essentially, you tie a wire between 2 trees, and then you hook a long leash to the wire so that the dog can run around out back even if you’re not out with him so that you won’t worry about him running off.

The more YouTube videos I watched, the more excited I got about the prospect of creating a dog run. Also, the more YouTube videos I watched, the more clear it became that I never learned how to tie a good knot like I would have if I had been a Boy Scout.

So, I went to the local hardware store and decided to claim my own ignorance. I laid out my plan to an employee, and the gentlemen listened to me, he helped me to concoct an approach to constructing the dog run. Piece by piece, we discussed the wire, the long leash, how to secure the wire to the tree in a way that wouldn’t hurt the tree, etc.

He was patient, seemed interested, and gave me multiple options to consider. It was a huge help, I thanked him, and I walked away toward another section of the store to look for one other item I needed before checking out.

About 2 minutes later, on the exact opposite side of the store, the employee came running toward me. After I had left his section, he had continued to give my project some thought, and he realized that I needed a hook not only for what would attach the long leash to the wire but also one that would attach the other end of the long leash to my dog’s collar. That would’ve been a pretty frustrating project if I had set everything up perfectly but had no way to attach the lease to my dog’s collar – YIKES!

I went to the hardware store knowing what I wanted to accomplish, and I was engaged by an employee who seemed interested in my project, gave me options, and actually ran after me to ensure I had everything I needed.

Sometimes it’s nice just to be able to tell a good customer service story.

Be that employee willing to run after a customer to give them some extra help.

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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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