Empathy, Casual Language and Personal Pronouns are the secret to amazing complaint response emails
Thanks to the Internet and social media, customers are more savvy now than ever before. Although this sounds like a good thing, the net result is an increase in stress for customer service professionals.
According to Newsweek magazine, the stress level of customer service representatives is comparable to that of air-traffic controllers and police officers. To be clear, the role of customer service now ranks as one of the 10 most stressful jobs in the U.S.
One of the things I’m working on right now is how to find ways to relieve the stress contact center agents face on a daily basis. It’s hard to get verbally abused daily and to have to deal with nonstop phone calls and emails all day.
Dealing with the customer who demands to speak to your supervisor is stressful. The right approach to this customer will result in a less stressful situation for you.
I just got off the phone with a call center agent who is in fear of losing her job because her supervisor says her tone, attitude and approach with customers is unacceptable. she has exactly 90 days to improve — or she will be fired.
She said she found my blog when she googled how to improve your customer service skills. I wished I could be there sitting across from this young woman, who I imagine is in her early 20s, and coach her. But she’s in Los Angeles and I have a plane to catch this afternoon, heading to the east coast.
I did coach this young customer service representative, over the phone, on how to soften her approach by making sure she doesn’t over-talk customers, by using what I call a “lead-in” and by listening with the intent to understand.
We talked for nearly an hour and then I gave her a complimentary enrollment in my online learning suite. She touched me with her proactive spirit and now I am determined to help her.
After coaching this young lady, I thought it might be helpful to share with you 4 of the tips I shared with her today. Maybe these tips can help your own employees deliver a better customer experience over the telephone.
I had to take my daughter’s phone from her last week. I don’t like that I had to do that, but I had a responsibility to take her phone. We have a rule in our house. Having a smartphone is a privilege and certain actions can result in a phone being taken away. One of those actions is a grade of a C or lower. My daughter’s Pre-AP Algebra 2 grade dropped to a 77%.
From the day we bought her first phone, my daughter has always known that any grade less than a B will result in loss of phone privileges. My daughter can see her grades daily online, as can her father and I. The expectations are set and clear. She has every possible opportunity to keep her phone, simply by maintaining excellent grades.
So, I don’t have to feel guilty about taking her phone away. There’s no benefit to her for me to go soft and let her slide. For what would I be teaching her if I let her slide? I’d be teaching her that she can slack and get away with it. She’d learn that my word is not solid. The focus and determination in academics my husband and I are trying to instill in her would be harder for us to teach. So, the consequences stick and it is indeed for her best.
As a supervisor or manager, can you easily set expectations and deliver consequences?
If you are a parent, you likely can easily set expectations for your child, issue consequences and not feel guilty about it. You know what you’re doing is best for your child. But, can you behave the same way at work?
Can you follow through on consequences, knowing employees were clear on your expectations? Can you discipline your employees without feeling guilty?
A corporate trainer in one of my client organizations is gung-ho on the Zappos culture and she is convinced that what her contact center needs is agents trained to make small talk with customers and empowerment so agents can consistently deliver wow experiences – “Just like Zappos does,” she says.
Now, I love what Zappos has done. I have delivered many a keynote and webinar on the Zappos culture. Zappos is the best at the customer experience, bar none. So understand me when I say this: I respect Zappos. But the Zappos culture will not work for anybody but Zappos.
When my daughter was 4 years old McDonald’s was her favorite place to eat out. We always got her the Happy Meal with chicken McNuggets. To this day she’s still not a “burger” person.
One afternoon we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home from pre-school. I placed Lauren’s usual Happy Meal order through the drive-thru speaker.
I drove up to the first window and the employee opened the window and waited for me to hand him my money. He took my $20 bill, gave me change and the window closed.
I drove up to the second window, it opened and an employee handed me a small Sprite and a Happy Meal in a bag. I handed the bag and drink to my daughter in the back seat.
As we drove off, my daughter said,
“Mommy, do they talk at this McDonald’s?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The people. They didn’t talk when they took your money and they didn’t say anything when you got the food.”
Wow. I actually hadn’t even noticed the lack of verbal communication. Me, the Customer Service Queen didn’t even notice. You know why I didn’t notice? Because rote interactions like this are so common that this felt like the norm.
But she was right. Other than the voice coming through the drive-thru speaker, there was no verbal communication.
It just so happened that 5 weeks to the day from this muted drive-thru experience, I was scheduled to deliver a keynote at Hamburger University, on the campus of the McDonald’s worldwide headquarters outside of Chicago.
I’m a storyteller. I had to tell this story to my audience of McDonald’s managers and executives. So I did. I opened my keynote with the story of “Mommy, do they talk at this McDonald’s?”
The audience was stunned. Frozen. Speechless. They may hate me for this, but they needed to hear it. I knew I’d done the right thing. Regardless of how awkward I felt on the big stage at that moment, they needed to hear this.
I took my son to the pediatrician yesterday afternoon for his annual checkup. The nurse did a quick vision test and then recommended I take my son to an optometrist. I was hoping my son would be the one person in our family who did not need corrective lenses.
In the car on the way home I called the eye doctor we’d used for my daughter a few months ago. Here’s how the call went.