How to Talk to Your Employees About the Way They Talk to Customers

My husband helping our son with homework a couple of nights ago

Story highlights

Maintain employees’ esteem when giving constructive feedback, so you protect the relationship and get behavior change

I’m sitting on my patio, with my feet up. It’s cloudy, and there’s a light breeze. Such a contrast to the oppressively hot and humid summer we’ve had

Sitting here on my patio I made a list of 50 things that I’m happy about right now. I do this exercise from time to time, whenever my mood needs lifting. Some of the things on my list are:

  • I got all of the wood polished.
  • Though Warren’s team lost, his spirit remains high.
  • ClearCorrect trusted me to train their team for the second time, and I’m fully prepared for the big day!
  • We had a fantastic getaway to Dallas, and I’m so glad Dad was able to join us.
  • My homemade lunch, Portobello Mushroom Burgers, and Sweet Potato Fries were amazing!
  • Michelle’s Dad’s cancer is gone! God is good!
  • My lunch yesterday with Toneille at the Vault was fantastic! The vegan food was fabulous, and I loved catching up with Toneille. 

My husband is one of the coaches on our son’s football team. We got beat 43 – 0 on Saturday. The loss felt as bad as it sounds. Right now my husband is sitting in front of the computer with my son watching game film. He was pointing out everything my son did wrong.

My son’s body language and tone told me my husband was bringing him down. That’s why I’m on the patio. I had to get out of the house.

I had to focus on what is right, right now. My list of 50 things did indeed lift my mood.

Here’s why I’m sharing this with you. When you are speaking with your employees about their customer service approach, be sure to not just focus on what they are doing wrong.

Focusing on what people do wrong can be substantial. I realize that. But if we’re not careful, we can bring them down, destroy self-esteem, or harm our long term relationships with employees.

1. Talk to your employees about what they’re doing right.

Something like this…

“You had a tough customer there with Ms. Jones. I appreciate the way you allowed her to vent, offering simple reassurances while she talked. You did a great job of controlling the conversation with her. I know that wasn’t easy.”

When you tell employees what they’re doing right, be genuine and be specific.

2. After you’ve given them genuine praise, then let them know what they can improve.

“One thing I noticed when I listened to your entire call with Ms. Jones, is you didn’t take the opportunity to convey empathy. When she said, ‘This is so frustrating! I have submitted my claim form. I sent the pictures you requested. I’ve had to call you guys 3 times now.’ You simply went on to explain what she needed to do next. That was the perfect opportunity to convey empathy. I want to roleplay with you to explore how you could have expressed empathy in this situation.”

3. Give constructive feedback in such a way that you build your employees up and maintain their esteem.

When discussing mistakes, you should focus on maintaining and strengthening the relationship. Be careful not to tear your employee down and watch your employee’s body language to make sure they aren’t shutting you out. The goal is for employees to walk away from the discussion feeling good and inspired to make positive changes.

The sun is coming out now and the gentle breeze left with the clouds. I put my laptop down and went inside to check on my son. I paused in the hallway and listened to my husband talking to Warren.

“It’s the little things, man. Those little things added up and cost us the game. Fix the little things, and we’ll be alright.”

My son was fine, and my husband is a better coach than I gave him credit for. 🙂

I have help for both you and your employees when it comes to customer service performance improvement. Check out these resources:

How to Solve Your Biggest Problems with Coaching Customer Service Employees – 60-minute on-demand webinar on how to give constructive feedback constructively

Customer Service eLearning– 10 courses to improve the way your employees talk to customers over the phone and email

Telephone Call Flow Strategy – Free 9-point guide (with videos) to improve your phone customer experience