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Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24


A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24


It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24


Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

Fight Fret with Reassurance – 6/27/23

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

I bought tickets for this weekend’s event, but they’re not showing up on my app.  I was told we could request a refund, but I don’t see a way to do that online.  I need this fixed by tomorrow.  The information on my bill is wrong, and it says it’s due next week.

The customer is confused or anxious or upset.  There’s an urgency, or there’s a misunderstanding.  The emotions are not positive, and the answer may not be immediately clear.

We need to seek details.  We need to determine alternatives.  But we also need…to reassure.

To reassure is to calm down.  It is to build confidence.  It is to alleviate fears.

If the customer is calm, if they have confidence in a resolution, if they have faith in you instead of fears in the situation, the conversation can end more quickly.  The odds of them wanting to talk to your manager diminish.  The likelihood they’ll question what you say or answer-shop decreases.

So, reassure.  Let them know that you can help, how you can help, how you’ve helped others.  Talk in ways that convey your understanding of them and their situation, your understanding of solutions, next steps, and timelines.  Use the phrases like “we will help you,” and avoid phrases like “I think we can address this.”  Convey your experience, resources, and tools.

The facts and the details of the issue and solution are important to address when the customer is worried.  But it helps to provide reassurance, as well.  It helps to speak with authority and to use words that convey more certainty of actions rather than uncertainty of next steps.  Convey your confidence to build their confidence.  

When the customer frets, provide reassurance.

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Be the Good Doctor – 6/20/23

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

Ginny liked the interaction with her doctor.  She enjoyed chatting with him.  Ginny was a grandma, had been dealing with doctors all her life, and some of the interactions and experiences were better than others.

Was this doctor experienced?  Yes.  Was he intelligent?  Yes.  Was he knowledgeable of what she was going through and the potential remedies?  Again, yes.

So, when Ginny talked about why she liked the doctor so much, she could have described those different attributes.  Instead, she described his openness as the reason she enjoyed him so much.  He was as willing to convey what he didn’t yet know as well as what he did know.  He was willing to ask questions to learn more.  He was willing to listen to what Ginny said.

Your customers are often in a similar situation to Ginny when they’re dealing with you.  You are like the doctor.  Compared to the customer, you’re far more knowledgeable about issues, symptoms of problems, remedies.  You’re much more knowledgeable about the options and the pros and cons of each.  You have a lot more experience in dealing with particular situations, as well.

But oftentimes when customers appreciate you, only part of the appreciation results from the quality of the information and guidance you provide.  The rest of what may cause them to appreciate you is how open you are to ask questions, how open you are to admit what you don’t know and what additional information you need.  They may appreciate you because of your willingness to listen and be patient with them, even though you’re 95% certain that you know the best course of action in their situation.

The next time you’re working with a customer and trying to determine the best way to address their issue or goal, convey the openness of Ginny’s physician.

Be the Good Doctor.

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Trust-building in the Moment – 6/13/23

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The customer is often the ultimate supplier of the information we need to help them.  So, we want customers to be open with us, to share their feelings, goals, issues, perceptions.

Building trust is a long-term enterprise, but many of us don’t have much time with the customer.  However, we still need the customers to be open enough to share with us so that we can be most effective in helping them.  Here are some keys to building trust in those short but important moments of truth…

Speak to what they’ve said.  The most important action is listening – asking the questions to get the information we need.  Most of the keys below are about what we say or what we convey, but it all starts with what we hear.

Speak with intent.  We need to be intentional about what we say.  Tossing in unclear words or commitments, having a tone that lacks confidence, making promises or sharing stories that don’t relate to what the customer conveyed can cause the customer to lose our main point.  It can cause them to think they haven’t been heard; they can lose confidence and trust.

Note what you can do by illustrating what you have done.  For customers to have faith that we can help, tell them what we can do, but it strengthens the story to tell them what we have done with others.  If we can illustrate a potential resolution that will be done for them by noting similar action taken for somebody else, it helps to build their trust and confidence.

Be open to engender openness.  If we want them to be open, we need to be open.  It’s hard to get somebody to share if they don’t feel like we’re willing to do likewise.  So, if you have questions that you need answered on their behalf, tell them that you need to investigate.  If you’re not 100% certain of the best option, tell them, and also let them know what you’re going to do to close that confidence gap.

Do what you said you will do.  Finally, so many of us judge trust based on whether or not the person did what they said they’d do.  This requires three things.  First, be clear with them on what we promised. This may include sending them follow-up messages to reinforce what we have verbally stated.  Second – obviously – do what we said we would do.  Third, tell them what we did.  Action is only as strong as the customer’s recognition that the action we promised actually occurred.

Tap into these 5 keys to build trust in that moment of truth.

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