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Managers Are Usually to Blame for Escalations

Customers are shrewd and impatient. They’re not going to mess around with a customer service employee who feigns (or lacks) authority to resolve issues. Customers will put their “get me a manager” card on the table in a hair’s breadth. And managers get frustrated with this, but it’s your fault, managers. You teach customers to escalate by holding all the power in your headsets.

4 Things Your Support Team Should Do In Chat

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I’ve designed start-up chat support for banks, libraries, consulting companies, medical practices, and contact centers. When I set up a chat platform for my clients, I have two goals. First, I want to deliver a fast and complete support experience. Meaning, I want to answer the customer’s questions and solve any issues. And second, I want zero customer frustration. That means, customers shouldn’t have to escalate to get help, they shouldn’t have to move to a call or email, and delays should be minimal.

Here are four things I insist upon when I implement a chat support channel with my customers.

1. Screen Recordings and Screenshots

When an eLearning customer reaches out to my team for help over chat, we’ll go into the client’s customized portal to see what they see. Then, we’ll do quick screenshots or screen recordings to walk them through the steps to solve their issues.

Yesterday when an eLearning customer asked how to add certification from my Telephone Skills class to her LinkedIn profile, I did a quick screen record (shown below) and sent it to her.

customers love quick screen recordings. We don’t always add audio to these recordings. It’s usually enough just to send customers a link to watch the video instantly.

2. Check for Understanding

I tell my team never to assume they understand what the customer is saying and to instead, merely ask the customer what they mean. In our chats, check-ins read like this.

Enhance Your De-escalation Skills On Your Lunch Break – 30-minute training with knowledge checks and simulations

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How to Handle Difficult Customers

(with a focus on de-escalation)

30-Minute De-escalation Online Class to Help Your Employees Get Angry Customers to Back Down, Even Customers Who Want a Supervisor – with Video Teaching, Simulations, Knowledge Checks, and Practice Interactions.

  • A customer support specialist said “In regards to your eLearning course, your coaching has immensely helped me with a few difficult calls these past three weeks. The particular course that was pivotal to these calls was your “How to De-escalate” section.” –Anna Hoang, Customer Support Specialist I, Vertafore
  • Walmart called Myra’s eLearning “the gold standard” and John Hancock said, “The first thing that struck us was how engaging each module was….you are asked to actively participate in each module, and there are action items you take away.”
  • We’ve taken Myra’s onsite De-escalation Workshop and shrunk it down to a 30-minute high-impact interactive online class!

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Thanks to the Internet and social media, customers are savvier now than ever before.  Although this sounds like a good thing, the net result is an increase in stress for frontline customer service professionals. According to Newsweek magazine, the stress level of consumer services professionals is comparable to that of air-traffic controllers and police officers. In short, the role of customer service now ranks as one of the 10 most stressful jobs in the U.S.

Creating calm with difficult customers is not a matter of using aggressive tactics. It’s also not about employees being a doormat, giving in to customer demands or escalating to a supervisor. This training is about how to take assertive control, create calm and pre-empt escalations.

Things You Think About When Shopping While Black

 

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Two employees were chatting at the register. Both looked up when I crossed the threshold, taking in my Afro blossom, but rather than speak to me, nod or smile, they merely fell back into their banter. Floored by the blatant dismissal dis, yet urgently needing a black dress, I made my way to the Ponte sheath black dress I’d seen on the chain’s website. I grabbed a size ten (and a size twelve just in case) and helped myself to the dressing room. Before I could release the French-door latch, an employee was damn-near on my heels. “Would you like to try those on?” Obviously. “Can I get your name?” This sudden interest is because you fear I’ll put one of these dresses in my handbag, right?

My face is shiny with shame as I type this next sentence. Excited that I still fit into a size ten and because the dress itself was gorgeous, I was ready to bag it up, in spite of the way I was treated.

But, stepping out of the dressing area, I just about tripped over an employee who glared at me with assumption. I woke up at this point,  remembering that I have a closet full of black dresses. And remembering that I deserve to be spoken to, and served. Just like any other customer.

Things You Think About When You Shop While Being Black and Wearing an Afro

3 Things to Know Before You Talk to Your Next Challenging Customer

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You already know it’s best to not say words like “Unfortunately,” or a hard “no,” and you probably even know that you need to let angry customers vent for at least a few seconds, but there are some other things you should know before trying to get customers to accept your word as final, especially when you have to give customers bad news. I’m sharing three tactics from my handling demanding customers workshops to help you assertively (and politely) control challenging interactions with customers.

1. Don’t undermine your authority by mentioning “your supervisor.”

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I had an employee who, when trying to assert her authority with challenging customers, would say things like, “Only a supervisor can make a decision for that amount,” “That’s over my head,” or “If I can’t help you, I’m happy to let you talk to my supervisor.”

What my employee was doing, certainly without realizing it, was priming customers to escalate up to a supervisor. The mere mention of supervisor and the suggestion that some decisions were “over her head,” psychologically nudged customers to do just that, go over her head to talk to a supervisor who was clearly the only person able to move the needle on the customer’s issue.