15 Good Old Common Sense Customer Service Tips: Back to Basics

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service speaker – Customer Service, Communications and Sales.  President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training


FACT:  Customers go out of their way looking for companies that give great customer service.

FACT: Some find it; some don’t.

Once a year (at least) it’s healthy to go over the good, old common sense, customer service tips. The ones we all know, yet nice to get a reminder.

We have tried so very hard to explain to both sides – the customer and the business – it’s not rocket science, it’s not brain surgery; it’s plain old common sense. But you and I know common sense is not that common. It’s not out there.

Customer Service Nightmares, as well as The Good the Bad and the Ugly, two of our 9 popular books, is proof of that. People love to report and vent on how badly they’ve been treated. When asked, they answered in the hundreds, near thousands, with stories about how poor their experience was.

We cannot count the number of articles out there on customer service. Some are good, some not; some have new ideas; some speak the old tried and true.

Back to Basics – The old tried and true is one of our favorite articles. Here are 15 tips; 15 customer service tips that are good old common sense thoughts, ideas, and skills. Short, sweet and to the point. Enjoy.

  1. “Please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome” always have been, and always will be, powerful words. Seldom overused.
  2. “You’re welcome” is simply the best replacement for “no problem.”
  3. “Sorry ‘bout that” is NOT an apology. It’s a cliché. “My apologies” is better when there’s been a screw up. “I’m sorry” is when you step on someone’s toes.
  4. A frown is a smile upside down. Stand on your head if you must; but SMILE, darn it!
  5. You cannot do two things well at once. Pay full attention to the call or the customer.
  6. One word answers on email, the phone or in person are considered cold and rude. Three words make a sentence; so be generous.
  7. Learn what phrases frustrate your customers. They’re probably the same ones that bother you.
  8. When was the last time you sent flowers to someone – – just because?
  9. Drop a personal handwritten note to a client and simply say “thanks for being a good client,” or “good friend” or ” thanks for being you.”
  10. “Hey, how ‘ya doing?” is not a great way to start up a business conversation. In fact, it’s not any way to start up a conversation. Period.
  11.  Out with friends or family? Put the cell phone away. Talk for 30 minutes. (If you remember how.)
  12. Email manners? Basically, the same as phone and in person.
  13. The old “don’t tell ‘em what you can’t do; tell ‘em what you can do” applies to most, if not all, customer interactions.
  14. Get excited! Enthusiasm is contagious. Start an epidemic. Make sure you say something fun, nice and appropriate in every conversation, on the phone or in person.
  15. Oh, and smile. YES, that needed to be said twice. A phony smile is better than a real frown.

Start with these tips, skills, ideas and techniques, and you’ll notice a big difference in how your customers respond.

There are more, for sure. These are a great start. Share away, please.


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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly

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