How Storyboarding Can Help You Spot and Correct Problems

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Before I talk to you about storyboarding, let me tell you about the time I got a job after I complained about poor service.

I was 17, and my mom and I were ready to check out at JCPenney. We couldn’t find a person anywhere in the juniors department. We walked over to lingerie and finally found someone in the boy’s department.

That someone was a middle-aged man in a suit. With the boldness of a brash teenager, I said, “What do you have to do to get service around here? We’ve been trying to spend our money, but no one’s around to take it.”

My mother gasped. The man said he’d get someone to help us and then he dialed a number on a black phone at the desk in the boy’s department. While we waited for that person to show up, I told him how long we’d waited and said,

“This isn’t acceptable. Your people should be here, ready to serve.”

“Do you think you could do better?” he asked.

“Yes, I do.”

“Then, you’re hired.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re hired. I’m Mr. ____(I don’t remember his last name now). I’m the store manager. You’re hired. I’ll get someone from Human Resources to process the paperwork. When can you start?”

Continue reading “How Storyboarding Can Help You Spot and Correct Problems”

20 Damn Good Ways to Express Empathy to a Customer

Nurse Treating Teenage Girl Suffering With Depression

When I hear an excellent, and genuine, expression of empathy from a company, I make a note of it. I’ll tell Siri to capture what I heard, or I’ll just type it out. I catalog ridiculously good empathy statements so that I can share them when I’m helping my clients with compassion.

In customer service workshops, like the one I delivered Friday in Columbus, I challenge my clients to use the empathy expressions I’ve heard (and felt) to inspire them to come up with their own empathic responses. Let’s make believe you’re with me now, in a training session. I share with you 20 of the best empathic expressions I’ve heard. Here they are: Continue reading “20 Damn Good Ways to Express Empathy to a Customer”

Here’s a Training Activity for Empathy In Customer Service

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I’m giving you the actual exercise I gave to the employees in the customer service training I delivered this morning, along with the discussion questions I used. If you’d like an excellent training activity that helps employees convey empathy, print off this exercise and facilitate a short discussion with your team.

Continue reading “Here’s a Training Activity for Empathy In Customer Service”

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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Let Me Teach You How to Deliver Bad News to a Customer

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

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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”