How to be an Island of Excellence in an Ocean of Mediocrity

How to be an Island of Excellence in an Ocean of Mediocrity

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training 8 out of 10 people will never do business with you again and won’t tell you. You’ll never know why. They just go away. 8 out of 10 people will tell 11 others how bad you are and only 1 out of 10 will tell others how good you are. Sad! No one aspires to be mediocre, so we need to learn how to soar above it. We need to keep our customers coming back and singing our praises. How do you create a customer service experience that will put you on the customer service map? What so many folks tend to forget is it’s the first 15 seconds that count; be it a phone call or an in person visit. That’s all the time you get to make that first great impression. So, in a few words, “Ya gotta be quick.” I’m going on vacation, but I wouldn’t leave you hanging without leaving some tips on how to raise the bar. If you know me, you’re probably familiar with these tips. And even if you don’t know me, you may be familiar with them. Point being do you

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How To Handle IRATE Customers Video Blog

How To Handle IRATE Customers Video Blog

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Short, sweet and to the point on a topic near and dear to all businesses. Enjoy.  

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Six Tactics to Improve Customer Service

Six Tactics to Improve Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Customer service is a key function of any business operation. Companies that place a strong emphasis on assisting their customers, whether it be in person, online or by phone stand a better chance of winning in the marketplace. Those who do not may not only lose sales to competitors, but may also incur a public relations and social media problem. Here are key tactics to help improve your customer interactions. Develop a Customer Service Strategy Business owners, CEOs and executives should develop a strategy to ensure customer service is maintained at the highest level. This can include calling and asking for yourself or some product information, and analyzing the responses of a call center employee or sales staffer. What you hear may surprise you and could be costing you money. You need a strategy. Hire Appropriately Creating a customer service centered culture includes hiring the right people for the appropriate position whether it be in the lobby, online or on the phone. Mistakes are often made by just filling seats with warm bodies. Phone employees should have a pleasant voice, speak clearly, and maintain a smooth conversational pace.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Telephone Skills for EVERYONE

The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Telephone Skills  for EVERYONE

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Telephone Doctor works with all kinds of people. For whatever reason, there’s a group of these folks who feel they’re in that old ivory tower and exempt themselves from telephone skills training. There is one thing, however, they have all agreed on – that there are always a few good tips from the Telephone Doctor. Here are a few good DO’s and DON’Ts and a LINK to our new book below. 1. DO acknowledge all your phone calls. Somehow. If you’re unable to return a phone call yourself, have it returned on your behalf. Not returning a phone call is like not using your turn signal – rude and sometimes dangerous. (Not returning calls label you as rude.) 2. DO place your own phone calls. Or if you absolutely need to have someone else place a call for you, at least be ready when the person you called is on the line. It’s legendary bad taste to get a call from someone’s assistant and then be put on hold to await Mr./Ms. Self-Important. 3. DO give bad news yourself. Not able to deliver on time? Canceling a

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T-L-C for Emails

T-L-C for Emails

Listen up. We did an audience survey at one of my recent speaking engagements. I wanted to know what really bugged folks about emails they received. Without hesitation, the top 3 were: * Poor spelling and grammar – Your, you’re; there, their, they’re; here, hear; to, too, two and the list goes on. And used by very supposedly, highly educated, smart folks. * Emails that are too long; too wordy. Emails that run several paragraphs that could be said in several sentences. * Subject lines that don’t match the body copy. There were others, but these three rose to the top. Then we talked about useless phrases used in emails. Ineffective words and phrases that could be left out. They’re not bad; simply useless and unnecessary (i.e., not needed). When these phrases are eliminated, the emails usually read better; sound stronger. Here we go: 1. “Just a note to let you know…” or “Just wanted to say…” or “I’m just checking back to see where we are on the order.” JUST is a weak, wimpy word. Not necessary. In fact, lame and useless. Eliminate the word JUST in your sentences. Read those sentences without the word “just” and see how

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Are You Camera Ready?

Are You Camera Ready?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training A while back at one of my corporate programs the owner of the company asked me if he could have 10 minutes before my session to talk with the group about an upcoming event. Naturally it was fine. I got to hear what he wanted and the responses. He explained to the group it had been a while since their company had updated their employee pictures. (That was evidenced, I admit, from the pictures on the wall and the 1990 hair do’s.) But I veer from the point. He said, “Next week the photographer will be in the office taking updated pictures of all our employees.” A young lady raised her hand and asked, “What day will the photographer be here?” The CEO asked, “Why do you ask?” The young girl said, “Well, I’d like to look nice.” Without missing a beat, the CEO said, “Why don’t you just look nice every day?” That was a lesson learned to me. Dress down days are fun for a lot of folks. But slob down days are an embarrassment to all. Be ‘camera ready’ all the time. You’ll never

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The Big Secret to Millennials

The Big Secret to Millennials

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Millennials? What’s new about it? The biggest secret of all? Nothing. Nada. Zip. In my travels, working with this fun, bright, exciting group, I’ve found they’ve simply never been shown certain things. Of all the things they’re called, one is missed. And that is: EAGER. Yes, I found them eager. Eager to be good. To learn. They asked more questions than other groups I’ve spoken to in a while. I didn’t have any ‘know it all’s’ in the audience. Some folks say the millennials feel they are: Entitled Lazy Unfocused Narcissistic And a few other ‘titles.’ Well, you know what? Those are some of the same ‘titles’ used over the years with nearly every generation. And some folks never lose those titles. As they get older, some folks still feel they are still entitled. Some are still lazy, unfocused and narcissistic. I’m not a fan of name calling. It’s the old “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never harm me.” I have found most of the millennials I’ve had the opportunity to work with to be fun, bright, eager to learn, and

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Empathy/Sympathy. Why it’s so important.

This trait won hands down as the most important characteristic when serving customers. In so many cases you get APATHY, the exact opposite of EMPATHY and SYMPATHY (they’re synonyms). Simply put, empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if what happened to them, happened to you? Sympathy is a showing of feelings. True Story – On a recent trip, my wallet was stolen. All my credit cards, checkbook, driver’s license and, of course, the few dollars I had in it. I proceeded to start making the appropriate phone calls to each credit card company – there were 4 in all. After giving my name, and that I was at Disneyland, and my wallet was stolen with 4 credit cards, cash, and checkbook, the person on the other end blurts out: NAME? I was tempted to say, “It’s still Nancy Friedman, the first name I gave you.” There was no, “Gee, I’m sorry that happened,” no, “Oh my, how sad.” All they wanted was my name. No empathy, no sympathy at all. I hope those people (and by the way, all 4 credit card companies did the very same thing) never go through that loss.

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Is Your Business Being Sabotaged By Your Own Staff?

Is Your Business Being Sabotaged By Your Own Staff?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Could be, if your staff is using any of these phrases. There are many, many words and phrases that can, and will, sabotage your business. And chances are your staff is saying some of these now, without your even knowing it – on the phone and in person. And worse yet, you’ve probably even said some of these yourself (ouch!). That’s the bad news. The good news is we’re able to bring to you the top five sabotaging phrases and then show you how to neutralize the effects. So get ready. You and your staff are about to be in a much better position to handle the Five Sayings to Sabotage Your Business: 1. I Have No Idea This is normally used as an excuse than anything else. It’s a sure thing that the employee has not been shown how to explain something to the customer (i.e., no product training). This phrase is used as something to say when the employee doesn’t know what to say. When the customer hears “I have no idea” they immediately respond (usually silently) with, “You gotta be kidding me?” Interestingly enough,

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Ten Do’s and Don’ts Of Effective Telephone Skills & More Where These Came From

Ten Do’s and Don’ts Of Effective Telephone Skills & More Where These Came From

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training; Phone Skills Expert   I work with all kinds of companies, executives and staff. For whatever reason, there’s usually a group of folks who feel they’re exempt from telephone skills training. And yet, one thing they all have agreed on is there’s always room for refreshers and good solid tips. So, without any further ado, here are some good, solid tips for everyone on effective telephone skills. 1. DO acknowledge all your phone calls. If you’re unable to return a phone call yourself, have it returned on your behalf. Not returning a phone call is like not using your turn signal – rude and sometimes dangerous. (Not returning calls also labels you as rude.) 2. DO place your own phone calls. Or if you absolutely need to have someone else place a call for you, at least be ready when the person you called gets on the line. It’s legendary bad taste to get a call from someone’s assistant and then be put on hold to await Mr./Ms. Self-Important. 3. DO handle delivering bad news yourself. Not able to deliver a product on time? Canceling an agreement?

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Making Cold Calls? How to Handle Call RELUCTANCE and Call REJECTION

Making Cold Calls? How to Handle Call RELUCTANCE and Call REJECTION

By: Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   A while back I was speaking at the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table conference and at the end of the presentation, during our Q & A, an insurance salesman asked me, “How can I handle call reluctance?” I was slightly taken aback. I really couldn’t imagine a salesperson (an insurance one especially) having call reluctance and being successful. That’s what I call an oxymoron. The two just don’t go together. I asked him if he meant ‘Call Rejection?’ He did not. Call reluctance – the fear of picking up the phone – and making a cold call, is obviously not a great characteristic of a successful salesperson. On the other hand, I understand and can treat ‘call rejection.’ Well, you’re asking, what’s the difference between the two? Big time difference! If you feel you happen to have call reluctance, for whatever reason, meaning you’re obviously reluctant to pick up the phone and make a cold call, start with little steps.  Call for information at a local store.  Call friends and talk with them.  Call folks you haven’t heard from in a while.  Set an achievable goal. Maybe 10 prospecting calls and

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National Small Biz Week

National Small Biz Week

National Small Biz Week – Starts with good people.  Here are some great new hiring questions to ask. What type of theatre experience have you had? That’s one question I believe that is missing in the hiring process.   If not theatre, continue with sports, chorus, band, cheerleading, even Girl and Boy Scouts. Each of these include and require TEAM work.   And there are many parts of each:   Example: Acting – stage manager – props – grip – lighting – sound – and more.  No one play, or movie can be done without each of these parts. I have a professional theater background and it has helped my career thrive immensely in the customer service arena. Now, it doesn’t mean if you don’t have some sort of theater background you won’t be good in customer service. But it does mean you’ll probably understand the mentality of customer service faster and even better. Some things you’ll learn in theater and the other jobs listed above, that can be applied to customer service are: Learning how to say something even when you forget your lines or script. Learning to work well with others, even if you don’t like them. Knowing the “applause” is

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Do We Owe The Millennials An Apology?

Do We Owe The Millennials An Apology?

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training The other day I had the good fortune of presenting one of our basic customer service, telephone skills program to 25 “MILLENNIALS” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We’ve all read and heard about situations with this group. But if the group I worked with is just a sample of what’s out there, good for everyone! We’re gonna be OK. They were sponges. They couldn’t write the information down fast enough. They had so many good questions. They thanked me over and over at the end of the session. They LinkedIn with me! They were more than AWESOME! They were NOT ‘know-it-all’s.’ They were NOT narcissistic. They didn’t rush me. They weren’t many of the things I’ve read in so many articles that bash them. They were good, hard working 25-35-year old’s trying to do a better job for their customers. They had NEVER had a program on communications or customer service in school. Their employer thought enough of them to bring Nancy (okay, ME) in for their National Sales Meeting. Thank you to all at www.Innereactive.com. Kudos to them. They are our tomorrow. And I’m so glad I got to be a

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My Drug of Choice? LAUGHTER!

My Drug of Choice? LAUGHTER!

Hi all. Boring meetings, and not so fun speakers can ruin an expensive time. Proud to have been chosen as one of the 4 ladies who take a unique approach. Enjoy this article from VIRGIN.com Airlines – www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/four-female-entrepreneurs-who-took-unique-approach-succeed Thanks, Nancy Where’s Nancy speaking? Just a few upcoming meetings to entertain the crowd: BGI Systems Innereactive Media Fiesta Auto Insurance FASTSIGNS Louisiana Dept. of Health WIC Like to talk about a program for your company during Customer Service week? Let’s talk! 314.291.1012 or email nancyf@telephonedoctor.com

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BEWARE: Caller ID Can Be Dangerous

BEWARE: Caller ID Can Be Dangerous

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training If this hasn’t happened to you yet, my bet is it will. You see the name or a number you recognize on the phone and pick it up with, “Hi Joe” (or whoever it says). And low and behold – guess what? It’s not Joe. Safest bet? Don’t look. Act surprised. Be great on every call. Or if you do look, use your professional greetings. Don’t discriminate! I often hear: Well, it’s JUST “Bob” and poor Bob gets a low grade unprofessional greeting. Not nice. Bob should get the same greeting as you’d give Taylor Swift. (If she called you that is.) I’ve been speaking on customer service a long time and I’m asking you to believe me. It’s not worth it to discriminate on how you answer the phone. Watch this 1-minute Video Blog and you’ll see what I mean. Make each call GREAT! Treat each caller as though it was your favorite movie star. Even if you look and see it’s “Bob Smith” who you know and love, that call should be answered as professionally as you would if it’s not. NOT “Hi Bob” or some other

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Theater Skills for Customer Service

Theater Skills for Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service Expert; President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Here’s a GREAT new hire interviewee questions: What type of theater experience have you ever had? Why should you ask that question? REASON: Because someone who has ever been in a play; part of a band, chorus or dance group; stage manager, grip, sound, prompter, make up, lighting, a director; even sports knows that the audience (your customers) are depending on them. My professional theater background has helped my customer service career thrive immensely. And I’ve been honored to share what has helped build Telephone Doctor. Not being in theater, band, chorus and the like, doesn’t mean you won’t be good in customer service. It means those who have had that experience will understand the mentality of customer service faster, and often, better. And regardless of the title or job responsibility in your company, we know everyone is in customer service. Theater 101, as I call it, is a perfect pre-curser to holding a job in customer service. Theater 101 prepares you in the best way for better communications. Below are only a few Theater 101 skills that will enhance your customer service reputation.

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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of A.I.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of A.I.

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training  Siri hates me.  I know it. When I ask for directions to “123 Main Street, St. Louis, MO”, her answer has been, “I can’t find Main Street in Des Moines.” Now I have a pretty good, clear speaking voice and tone. I don’t mumble or talk too soft. That being said, let’s define A.I. for those that may not be as familiar with it as those that are. The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and translation between languages. Fairly simple? Most of us realize, and I believe accept the fact, that computers do make errors. Perhaps not as many as us humans; however, nevertheless, they do. And they certainly are fast when working right and we input correctly. I just do not believe A.I. will take over the world soon. A.I. is good in many cases for finding information, however, what I find it lacks is in the real “need” category. From what I see and hear as I travel the country speaking at conferences and meetings helping

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Top 15 Customer Service No No’s

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Throughout the years, Telephone Doctor has gathered all sorts of information using surveys and finding what things frustrate customers. From this information, we’ve been able to bring you the vignettes in our training programs both online at www.serviceskills.com and onsite, www.nancyfriedman.com, with reality that matters. That’s what makes Telephone Doctor programs so ‘real.’ It’s because they are. The segments produced aren’t ‘made up’ – they’re from YOU. Things, events and situations that have happened to you, me or we have witnessed. No pretend; nothing ‘made up.’ I’ve had things happen in a service situation that I know if we produced people would think, “Oh no, nothing as bad as that could ever happen.” But we know it does, right? And, I’m pretty sure some of the scenarios have happened to YOU as well. In no order of importance, here are the TOP 15 NO NO’s in customer service. Yes, there are more. Way too many for this post. 1.    Employees are having a bad day and their foul mood carries over in conversations with customers. (Everyone has bad days, but customer service employees need to keep theirs to themselves.)

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How to Win 5 Telephone Doctor Customer Service Books

How to Win 5 Telephone Doctor Customer Service Books

Oct 1 – 5, 2018 is Int’l Customer Service Week…and it will be here, like the holidays, sooner than we think. During Customer Service week, companies are supposed to do something ‘fun’, exciting and thoughtful for their customers. We’re supposed to do it all year long, every day; but someone thought up a special week…so let’s have some fun! What are you and/or your company planning to do for Int’l. Customer Service Week this year? How to Enter: Send your plans, ideas, thoughts or tips to us at PRESS@telephonedoctor.comby Monday, April 30, 2018 and you could win a library of FIVE Telephone Customer Service & Communication skills books. All books will be autographed by me, Nancy Friedman Golden Nuggets of Customer Service The Hidden Gems of Customer Service 50 Little Tips that Make a BIG Differences Customer Service Defined How to Get Your Customers Swearing by you NOT at you Contest Rules: Enter as many times as you’d like. (YES, it’s Okay) Entry must be post marked by Monday April 30, 2018 Winners will be notified by May 15, 2018 and will also be invited to be our PODCAST GUEST! Include your name, title, company, address & phone number. No blood

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