55 Improvements I Hope You Make To Your Customer Experience

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True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be. Wayne Dyer said that.

 

  1. Always speak in complete sentences. Don’t say, “Zip code?” Say, “May I have your zip code, please?”

  2. Let upset customers vent for a few seconds. And while customers vent, offer simple reassurances, like “Um hmm” or “I see.”

  3. Bridge into questions, like this, “To determine what has happened, I will need to ask you some questions.”

  4. Strive to respond to emails within 4 hours – and work to resolve issues in a single email response.

  5. Use “dead air” space on calls to explain to customers what you’re doing or to make small talk.

  6. Never say anything to a customer that you wouldn’t say to your mother.

  7. Stop saying, “My supervisor will just tell you the same thing I’m telling you.”

  8. Make it super-easy to reach a live person.

  9. Don’t make customers have to tell you what they already said to your automated system.

  10. Always explain why you’re transferring a client. It could be as simple as, “The best person to answer that question is Leon with our production team. If you hold for a moment, I’ll transfer you.”

  11. End calls (or visits) with a fond farewell: “I enjoyed talking to you, Lauren. I hope you enjoy your new duffle bag.”

  12. Get in the practice of offering customers options: “Our Pumpkin Spice lipstick is a limited offering, but maybe you’d like our S’mores winter color.”

  13. Hire people based on their positive, upbeat attitude, and then train for skill.

  14. Stop allowing employees to say, “What was your name?”

  15. Treat complaints as if they were gifts, and thank customers for their complaints: “Thanks for letting us know. We appreciate customers who let us know when things aren’t right.”

  16. Acknowledge customer concern, like this, “I realize this has been frustrating for you.”

  17. Politely probe to make sure you understand all of your customer’s needs. (Don’t assume you know.)

  18. Get comfortable with apologizing, even when the problem is not the fault of the company. This is a good approach, “I’m sorry for any frustration you have experienced.” Or “I’m glad to know I can get you back on track with a replacement.”

  19. Predetermine phrases you can use in the chat experience – Phrases like, “I’m sorry to hear about the damage to your tablet. Rest assured, I’ll do my best to help.”

  20. Check back with customers if they have to hold for more than three minutes.

  21. Listen to customers with the intent to understand, not with the intent to be understood.

  22. Meet needs customers don’t even express.

  23. Seek out customer contact. Don’t walk with your head down and don’t try to look busy so that customers won’t “bother” you. Hold your head up, make eye contact, and seek out customers.

  24. Get on the same page with customers by saying something like, “I can see your point on that.”

  25. Help customers right on social media, using Direct Messages, and don’t just tell customers to call your toll-free number.

  26. Don’t over talk customers or interrupt them.

  27. Respond right away, even when you don’t have the answer. Always keep customers in the loop.

  28. Look for ways to make doing business with you easier. Try to come up with at least five ways to make the experience easier for your customers.

  29. Teach your employees how to defuse anger and create calm.

  30. Talk to your customers over social media.

  31. Record how-to videos and upload to YouTube and your website.

  32. Give employees constructive feedback on their service interactions.

  33. Serve your customers over chat.

  34. Give your employees praise for exceptional customer interactions.

  35. Instill a culture that realizes the issue isn’t usually the issue. The way the issue is handled usually becomes the real problem.

  36. Coach your employees always to be friendly and engaging.

  37. Stop saying the word “unfortunately.”

  38. Make customers feel smart and good, even if they ask questions your employees think are dumb.

  39. Stop saying, “There’s nothing I can do.”

  40. Instead of telling customers they are wrong, say something like, “I thought otherwise, but let’s take a look.”

  41. Provide quality assurance monitoring of all interactions, giving feedback to employees.

  42. Use QR codes on your packaging to give customers quick access to things like FAQ, ingredient lists, or how-to videos.

  43. Predetermine quick solutions for the top 20 issues your employees regularly encounter.

  44. Provide employees with refresher training annually.

  45. Don’t hide your toll-free number.

  46. Get rid of scripts and let your employees be themselves. Give your people talking points instead.

  47. Don’t try to prove customers wrong. You’re a customer service professional, not a prosecutor.

  48. Be specific with next steps. Instead of, “Someone from our Claims Department will get back with you,” try, “Our Claims Department will reach out to you by email within 3-5 business days.”

  49. Teach your employees how to convey empathy.

  50. Don’t argue with customers over small stuff.

  51. Stop saying “Sir” or “Ma’am” when you have the customer’s name.

  52. Be open to questions from customers – without a hint of annoyance or rush.

  53. Stop saying, “If you don’t calm down, I can’t help you.” This works better, “I want to help you, yet the language is getting in the way. If it stops, we can continue.”

  54. Update your FAQ regularly.

  55. Listen to a random sample of your calls (or your employees’ calls) and improve the things that make you cringe.

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Delivering Bad News to a Customer

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My course, “Delivering Bad News to a Customer” for Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning is now live! If you struggle with how to deliver bad news to customers, you’ll want to take this class.

Here’s a description of the course:

Customer service is about providing the best experience to a customer—yet, a lot of the time customer service reps find that their hands are tied and that what the customer wants is not something the rep can deliver. How can CSRs work to keep the relationship with the company strong and intact? This course outlines a simple four-step approach that can be used in a variety of customer service settings. Learn about communication styles, methods, and approaches that can be applied to challenging situations like delivering bad news, handling concerns, and more.

Topics Include:

  • Communicating clearly
  • Acknowledging the customer’s concerns
  • Being open to additional questions
  • Offering alternatives
  • Reviewing customer service policies
  • Communicating on the phone or via email
  • Interacting with customers in person

Duration: 48m 13s

Watch Delivering Bad News to a Customer on LinkedIn and on Lynda.com Or, bring this training to your company.

The 3 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make with Customer Support

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My website was down for 37 hours this week. Not only was the website down, but we couldn’t send or receive emails. The outage happened because something went wrong in a scheduled site upgrade on Sunday night. My hosting company was to perform a simple process that I thought would take a few minutes.

I reached out to my hosting company more than a dozen times during the 2-day outage, desperately trying to get the issue resolved and to check the status of the problem. In my multiple interactions with the company, they made three critical mistakes in the customer support experience. These are the same three mistakes you can’t afford to make with your customer support experience. Continue reading “The 3 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make with Customer Support”

A Tale of Two Delivery Restaurants

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One of the best things about travel for me is going to local restaurants and cafes and enjoying the food. I love tasting the food, seeing the local people and really experiencing the town’s vibe.

But then there are times when I’m exhausted, and I want to order in. Like last night. I’d had a lovely brunch at the Mesa Verde in Santa Barbra, and then I spent the entire afternoon reading and walking at the beach. The sun set my “sleep clock,” as my mother would say, and I just wanted to have food delivered to my hotel room and then retreat to my bed.

 

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I literally spent the entire day at the beach. I read, walked, and prayed.

 

A food delivery service left a postcard in my hotel room. The note said, “Quick delivery to XYZ Hotel.” They had vegetarian options, so I ordered. The food came fast. I opened the bag while the delivery guy was still at my door. There were no utensils or napkins. “Do you happen to have napkins and a fork and knife with you?” I asked.

“Nope. If you want those, you have to ask for them when you order.”

When I ordered, my mind was on food. Not on forks and knives. “I’m in a hotel, how can I eat my salad and entree without a fork?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You didn’t tell us you needed a fork or napkins, so we didn’t include those things in your order.” And then he just stood there looking like he truly was sorry that I’d have to either eat with my fingers or go hunt down plastic ware.

Continue reading “A Tale of Two Delivery Restaurants”

What a Makeup Artist Taught Me About Customer Service

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This week, I’m filming video training for a client in Southern California. Each morning before we shoot, I get treated to makeup art by Christina, a talented, gorgeous and charismatic makeup artist.

The first day I worked with Christina, she asked me about what I teach in my videos and training classes. “I help frontline employees deliver the best possible customer experience,” I said. “Usually, I’m focused on helping people show concern and empathy and on handling difficult situations with diplomacy and tact.”

It turns out, Christina is not just an amazing makeup artist; she knows a thing or two about customer service. “When I worked at Nordstrom,” she told me, “I would notice how stingy my employees would be when customers would ask for makeup samples. But then if the same employees had a friend or their mother come in, they were so generous, friendly and fun. They’d be like, ‘Mom, you have to try this; let me give you these to take home!’” Continue reading “What a Makeup Artist Taught Me About Customer Service”

Do You Have Trouble De-escalating Angry Customers? If So, Try This.

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Four minutes into the call and I could see I was heading for trouble. The customer was a storyteller and a rambler. Plus, she was mad. She’d already spoken to an employee in the field and to one of my employees at the corporate office. Now the call had come to me. I got the call literally just as I was picking up my book to head to the park to enjoy a quick lunch and hopefully a couple of chapters of my novel.

The problem was easy enough. The customer’s rental car had broken down. That happens every day in the world of car rentals. Our solution to this problem is always swift: we get a replacement car out to the customer, reimburse any expenses and tow back the original rental.

But with this customer, the conversation was anything but easy. She kept rambling on, rehashing her frustration, making sure I knew how difficult it was to be stranded on the side of the interstate with 3 small children. If I was going to help the customer and have any shot at enjoying my lunch and a little reading, I had to resolve the problem and wrap up the call quickly.

So, here’s what I did. I used what Robert Bacal, a brilliant consultant, calls the topic-grab approach. The topic-grab approach involves listening carefully to your upset customer and then taking something they’ve said (grabbing a topic) and commenting on it or asking a question about it. This is especially effective if you can express empathy on the topic you “grab.” Continue reading “Do You Have Trouble De-escalating Angry Customers? If So, Try This.”