The Most Crushing Mistake Most Customer Service People Make: Not Being Friendly o_O

shocked customer service representative

On the way into my office this morning I stopped to get coffee and breakfast for my team. I don’t do this often enough. When I managed a call center, I would regularly pick up donuts or pastries. I have to do better in my own company. Do you bring treats in for your team? If so, how often do you do it? I need the motivation to get back in gear.

I wanted to treat my small team today for working so hard over the weekend and yesterday into the evening on the big project of moving our entire eLearning roster and training modules to a new hosting site.

My first stop was at a fast food restaurant. I pulled up to the window, and this is what I heard. “Welcome to _____. Order when you’re ready.” The welcome, if you can call it that, was delivered loudly, matter-of-factly, and it even suggested that I needed to hurry up and order, and not wait until I was ready.

I placed my first order. I barely finished my sentence when the person said; “Your total is $5.12 at the first window.” I still had several more items to order! When I awkwardly said, “I actually have more things I’d like to pick up today.” the lady said, “Go ahead when you’re ready.”

I finished up this tedious ordering process, and 10 minutes later I was in the drive-thru at Starbucks, which is next door to the fast food place.

I pull up to the Starbucks drive-thru, and I am greeted with:

Thanks for stopping by Starbucks! How may I help you?”


A latte, Ray-bans and me at Starbucks one afternoon working on a keynote

How refreshing! How different from what I just experienced at “the other place.” How friendly. It actually sounded like a welcome!

The difference between these two businesses? One had a friendly person serving customers. The other didn’t.

I was getting coffee and breakfast for my team because they’ve worked so hard to complete a project that I am over the moon excited about: My newly upgraded Customer Service eLearning suite. We have brand new courses, a slick new interface and we now give our customers the power to run reports on their own, add users anytime and even add their own company logo. We didn’t have this great feature before.

Imagine how good you will feel knowing that your employees consistently speak to customers with friendliness, empathy, and warmth

Operator woman talking on headset at work

Imagine walking through your department or past your front desk, and you hear employees saying things like:

  • “I can understand how frustrating this whole thing has been for you.”

  • “I cannot imagine how upsetting it is to…”

  • “We want to get to the bottom of this just as much as you do.”

  • “I hate that you had to make this call today, but I’ll get this resolved for you.”

Imagine your newest and most timid agent is on the phone with an irate customer.

The customer is ranting so loudly that the person across from this employee can hear his voice.

But your employee is calm and confident. She’s saying things like, “Umm…Hmm,” “I see….” and “I realize this whole thing has been frustrating for you.”

She’s leaning in toward her computer and listening to the customer. After listening to the customer for several seconds, she says, “We want to fix this just as much as you do.” And then….you hear her typing away while she nods – and within 3 minutes, the customer hangs up happy.

Keep imagining with me for just another second. Katy just got a live one. Right out of the gate he’s asked to talk to a supervisor. Here’s how Katy responds.

“I can certainly let you speak to my supervisor, but you know what Brendan? That’s why I’m here. Why don’t you give me a chance to help you first? If I’m not able to fix this, absolutely, I’ll get you to my supervisor.”

You brace yourself for the transfer to your phone that you know is about to happen… But, the call isn’t transferred. Katy has convinced Brendan to let her help him!

Then imagine hearing one of your employees ending a call like this…

“Well, Gary, if there’s nothing else, the only thing left is for me to wish you a great afternoon. Thanks so much for calling us today. Have good evening.”

No, you didn’t imagine perfect agents in the Zappos Call Center.

Not at all. These employees could be your employees after my soft skills training on empathy, friendliness, and de-escalation. All of these skills – and super great phrases – are taught in my newly upgraded eLearning, the project my team has been working so hard on.

Frankly, no other online training anywhere has as much potential to drastically change the way your employees talk to customers as our customer service eLearning suite does. No other training has the potential to help your employees be friendly.

If you’re serious about mastering the most critical skill in customer service, friendliness, my online customer service training is for your team.