I Had to Pull the “Get Me a Manager” Card. Here’s Why.

upset angry skeptical, unhappy, serious woman talking on mobile phone

I’ve told this story on my blog before, so bear with me if you’ve already heard it. I’m standing at the front desk of a nice hotel in Baltimore. The front desk clerk is having a problem with my reservation. I wondered if it was because I had literally just booked the reservation 45 minutes prior, just as I got into my rental car at the airport. I told the hotel employee that perhaps my very recent booking was the problem.

He called hotels.com, the company I used for booking, not once, but two times, about my reservation. When he didn’t get things sorted out after 2 lengthy calls to hotels.com, he told me, “I’m just going to cancel your hotels.com reservation and rebook you in our system.”

I was eager to get into my room and rest up for a week of full-day training sessions. His suggestion sounded good to me. That is, until, a couple of months later when checking my hotels.com account, I get a message stating that my 6-night hotel stay in Baltimore had been removed from my Rewards Account and that I would not get credit for that stay.

The primary reason I use hotels.com is for the rewards. I travel a lot. It takes 10 hotel stays to earn a free hotel night. In June I earned two free hotel nights and used both of those nights for get-aways with my husband. I travel a lot.

Now, the hotels.com call center is telling me that because they couldn’t help my hotel in Baltimore sort out a problem, they are removing my earned rewards? Pretty quickly in the interaction, I asked to speak to a manager. Here’s why I felt I needed to do this.

1. The number one thing customers want is help. When you don’t/can’t help, customers instinctively want to climb the ladder.

Trying to get my deserved hotel rewards, I called hotels.com. I spoke with an employee who put me on hold 3 times and ultimately told me there was nothing he could do. Literally, he said, “Ma’am, there’s nothing I can do.” This declaration certainly didn’t help me out. So, I said, “May I please speak with your manager?”

2. Customers also want acknowledgement. Another way to think of this is empathy. Without acknowledgment/empathy, it sounds like you don’t care. And if you don’t care, they might as well speak to someone else.

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3 De-escalation Strategies for Angry Customers

My daughter and I were driving home from church Sunday afternoon. We were in the left hand turn lane behind another car. We had the green arrow, yet the car in front of me hadn’t started to accelerate. The driver behind me laid on the horn something terrible. I actually turned around to look at her. She let up for a second and then honked again. “Ridiculous,” I said to my daughter. In the rearview mirror I saw the lady was giving me the middle finger, all because she assumed I was the holdup at the light.

About the time I got flipped off, the driver in front of me turned left and I followed. The honking profane driver quickly accelerated and then drove side -by-side me. What? Then she literally drove into my lane, nearly hitting me!

I found myself getting heated and frankly, I wanted to cuss. But my daughter was in the car and I had to ensure her safety, as well as my own. So, I had to de-escalate the situation. In my peripheral I could see the lady gesturing at me still. I avoided eye contact, didn’t return the bird gesture and I didn’t even utter words that the driver wouldn’t hear anyway. I slowed down just a bit so that she had to pass me. And then, it was over.

My mistake in this situation was physically turning around and looking at the driver. That enticed the driver to continue and become more aggressive. Fortunately, I’m skilled in de-escalation because I teach de-escalation in my Verbal Aikido training sessions. The moment I realized my error, I moved into de-escalation. My de-escalation tactic in this situation was to avoid eye contact, so not to appear threatening or aggressive, and to choose silence as opposed to profanity. I let it go and the out of control driver was defused, or at least, the situation for me and my daughter was calm.

De-escalation is a strategic tool that your employees can use when they find themselves in a ridiculous situation with an agitated, angry or out of control customer. Not unlike what I experienced in traffic 2 days ago.

Examples of de-escalation include:

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Web Self-Service Strategies Every Business Should Be Using

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Story highlights:
5 web self-service strategies that will slash your incoming support calls

My Business Phone (Almost) Never Rings.

And That Makes Me a Genius.

I remember back to my first few years in business when I was tethered to my BlackBerry, constantly returning phone calls and replying to emails. My business phone rang so much that I needed to hire an answering service.

Things are different today. For one, I am not shackled to my smartphone! And two, and this is a biggie – my office phone rarely rings.

My non-ringing business line is not a bad thing. I have worked strategically to create a web self-service strategy that answers more than 95% of my customers’ questions. And this well-designed strategy has made my support calls nearly vanish.

No doubt, my business is a small business. Most large businesses won’t slash incoming calls by 95% with even the best self-service strategy. But research cited by Harvard Business Review shows that by improving the help section on your website, you can reduce calls by 5% — easily.

Three out of 4 consumers prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own. And 65% of consumers say that they feel good about themselves and the company they are doing business with when they resolve a problem without talking to customer service. Here’s one last statistic for you. Fifty-seven percent of inbound calls come from customers who went to the website first! That startling statistic is from Harvard Business Review.

Here’s how I make my customers feel good about themselves and my company, while reducing my support call volume. Five simple ways. 

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The Psychology of Customer Anger (Flashback Friday)

Flashback Friday! My kids used to post Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday photos on Instagram. They don’t  do that anymore. In fact, they spend more time on Snapchat than on Instagram.

Well, I’m doing a Flashback post of my own – even if flashback posts are out of style.

I joined YouTube in 2007 and one of the first videos I published was “The Psychology of Customer Anger.”

That cheesy video has gotten over 60,000 views. I cringe when I look at the quality of the video and my style in front of the camera. My son laughed out loud when he came into my office last night and I had the video up.

I look so different from back then, nearly 10 years ago. I’ve lost weight, like 30 pounds. I wear my hair kinky curly. I like to think I’m more controlled and poised in front of the camera.

But my strategies haven’t changed. Not much anyway. I’m taking a risk and posting this Flashback Friday video because one, some or all of these tips just may help you get an angry customer to back down.

Try not to laugh too hard.

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New Training Teaches Conversational Aikido to Help Those Handling Difficult Customers

Creating calm with difficult customers is not a matter of using aggressive tactics. It’s also not about letting the customer vent until they cool off or you being a doormat. There are definite tactics, deployed strategically, that will position any customer service professional to create calm, defuse anger and assertively control conversations.

Aikido

Introducing…

How to Handle Difficult Customers Using Verbal Aikido

5 Aikido Principles for Creating Calm, Defusing Anger and Moving to Closure with Difficult Customers

In this special online workshop Myra reveals the 5 Conversational Aikido principles she has adapted from her 15-year study of the martial art Aikido. Employees will walk away from this workshop with specific Aikido techniques and tactics to create calm, take control of the call, defuse anger and move the call to closure. Myra’s Aikido principles have earned rave reviews from such clients as Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Ally Financial, Nationwide, the Insurance Consumer Affairs Exchange and more. Continue reading

3 Things I Learned About the Customer Experience During my Hike in the Albuquerque White Mesas

My family and I vacationed out west last week. We went to Albuquerque, spent 3 days there, then went on to Phoenix.

We took a tram up to the top of Mount Sandia, we toured Sedona, went off road in a Jeep to hike the White Mesas; we visited a museum, spent a full day at the Grand Canyon and we had some amazing food. My husband chose all of the restaurants, insisting only on local cuisine. He even made sure to select vegetarian-friendly spots for me.

Out of all of our experiences out west, my single favorite experience was the White Mesa Jeep Tour with New Mexico Jeep Tours. It was my standout favorite experience because the company, New Mexico Jeep Tours, gave me and my family a phenomenal customer experience.

If you’ve been to one of my keynotes or training sessions, you’ve heard me talk about the 3 Elements of the Best Possible Customer Experience. The 3 Elements create what I call “The Way of Harmony.” Continue reading

How to Handle Difficult Customers Using Verbal Aikido

Myra Golden Customer Service Training Highlight

Verbal Aikido: A non-aggressive, highly effective strategy for handling difficult customers

Myra Golden Slide Deck WIDE.001

Thanks to the Internet and social media, customers are more savvy 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.

In this keynote Myra Golden reveals that extremely difficult customers are determined to force corporations—via the customer service professional—to give in to the consumer demands—reasonable or not.  This means the customer service professional must develop a response plan.

Myra, a former global head of customer care, teaches leaders how to achieve harmony with dissatisfied and difficult customers through the use of empathy, conversational aikido and a solid recovery strategy.

The outcome of this keynote is an audience that is prepared to develop a customer-recovery plan that empowers customer service professionals to understand how to create calm; how to find resolutions that balance the interests of the customer and the company; how to reduce escalations; and how to create a positive conversation.

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“If your organization’s growth relies on improving the customer experience, you would benefit enormously from an engagement with Myra Golden. Her vast hands-on experience in a wide variety of service organizations differentiates herself from many other consultants we have worked with in the past. Our organization has utilized Myra’s online webinars with outstanding results as well. Very high value for your consulting dollar.

Beth Dockins

Former Director, Customer Service, Audit, Admin at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. 


Key Take-aways:

  • Learn exactly what it takes to restore customer confidence and regain goodwill after a service failure.
  • Examine the 6 steps for a customer recovery plan that empowers employees with excellent decision-making and judgment skills, resolves problems at the first encounter and restores customer trust.
  • Discover how your employees can communicate assertively, create calm and take control with difficult customers by using conversational aikido.
  • Explore ways to build stronger emotional connections with customers through Extreme Empathy
  • Execute your new customer recovery strategy faster by using a new fiercely focused project plan that gets all of your horses going in the same direction.

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“I am still receiving compliments on your polished and actionable presentation! You are a complete professional who can connect with your audience through warmth and deep knowledge. I hope to have you back again!”

Michelle Singer, President, American Marketing Association – Tulsa Chapter


Download a PDF brochure of this keynote description

Videos discussing key points from Myra’s Verbal Aikido training workshop 

This video is about the Aikido principle of “don’t push”

This video is about the Yielding technique, another Verbal Aikido principle Myra’s participants learn in the Verbal Aikido workshop

 

Myra Golden

Customer Experience Designer & Professional Speaker

Myra Golden Media
Phone: 918-398-9368
Fax: 832-218-8464
info@myragolden.com

Visit Myra’s Keynote Speaking & Customer Service Training website: www.MyraGolden.com

Connect with Myra on Twitter: @myragolden.