Are You a Double Checker?

Are You a Double Checker?

By Nancy Friedman, Founder & President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training; Keynote & Workshop Speaker at Meetings & Conferences on Customer Service, Communication Skills and Sales   One thing we all know is no one enjoys being rejected. You don’t, I don’t, the folks next door don’t. And certainly, our customers don’t. Negative starts to a sentence are usually poorly received. When something isn’t available, or not ready, or you don’t have it – whatever it is – the words, “Let me double check that for you” will save the day. Every time! Rather than blurting out a negative, start with a positive. Start with, “Let me double check that for you.” Either way, it’s a good habit to get into. Remember – REJECT GENTLY. It speaks VOLUMES. This minute thirty video blog says it best. Watch it, enjoy and please share.

Read more

The Art of Giving Directions

The Art of Giving Directions

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert; Founder and President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, St. Louis, MO Yes, it’s an art. If you are a location where people call and ask, “Where are you located?” this is for you. I’ve had to call for directions both locally and out of town recently and the results are frankly disastrous. It’s amazing how some people do not know how to give effective directions. Let me help you: I called a retail location recently and asked, “Hi. Where are you located?” Simple enough. Right? Wrong! The sweet young lady who answered bellowed out, “Bob, where are we located?” Fortunately, BOB knew. But I’ve called many places as we travel the USA to ask that question and here are a few other answers: “Hi. I’m coming to the mall. Where are you guys located?” Answer: “Right under the escalator.” Me: “Super, thank you.” What she neglected to let me know is there were 4 escalators in the mall. It was a massive mall. Took me 20 minutes to find the right one. Agggg. Yes, I could have asked someone in the mall. I know that. But better if she had said, “There

Read more

Three Killer Words That Drive Customers Away

Three Killer Words That Drive Customers Away

By Nancy Friedman, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service and Keynote Speaker on Sales, Customer Service and Communication Skills Conversation killers. That’s what they really are. Killer words and phrases help make your customers and your potential customers veer away from the real point of your conversation. Best we eliminate them from our routine and vocabulary. It’s not easy to do. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it, and we know everyone isn’t doing it. 3 of the Top-Rated Killer Buzz Words Are: No Problem – The customer is thinking, “Am I a problem?” When someone does something for you and tells you “thank you,” you simply need the GOLD STANDARD of: “you’re welcome.” Overused and abuse: “No problem” appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation. Calm Down – Telling someone to Calm Down has never calmed them down. This one makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show we’ve seen, when someone is told to “calm down,” the next words from the other actor are usually: “Don’t you tell me to calm down.” Right! It’s not our job to

Read more

There is a Definite Difference Between Hearing and Listening

There is a Definite Difference Between Hearing and Listening

By Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training; Nancy is a keynote speaker on sales, communications and customer service Listening is not the same as hearing. Think about a commercial for a product you have no interest in; it’s easy to tune that information out, isn’t it? You may ‘hear’ it as noise in the background, but you’re probably not listening. Hearing is one thing, and listening and mentally absorbing the thoughts is another thing. That’s why we say listening is an art – not a science. While it’s easy to ‘hear’ what the customer says, great customer service begins with great listening skills. Here are easy 6 steps to help you become a better listener. And if you think you’re already a pretty good listener, pass this along to someone who could also benefit from improved listening skills. TIP #1 – DECIDE TO BE A BETTER LISTENER In school, you’re taught to read, write, do math, and dozens of other topics. I don’t know about you, but in all my schooling, I don’t ever recall having a course on listening. And yet, as we all know, listening is an important, some would say even a crucial skill.

Read more

Let’s Talk Voice Mail

Let’s Talk Voice Mail

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Our surveys are showing voice mail is now running far behind email to reach someone. However, since voice mail is still in use, let’s go over some of the basic guidelines of using voice mail. I often hear “no one returns my voice mails anymore” a lot. Could it be the way your message is left? There was a time, some of us might recall, where there was NO voice mail. No automated attendant. No, “I’m not at my desk right now.” Just good, old fashioned human beings talking with each other. Is there anyone reading this that disagrees, the first voice we hear, when we call a company sets the tone, starts the process, and is the voice that ‘welcome’s the caller’ to the company? I’ve not met anyone who disagrees with that. Then why on earth would we put a dull, monotone, robotic voice on voice mail? Between the automated attendant that greets the public and your own voicemail that says HELLO to the person dialing in direct, why not be GREAT? I’m going to focus on your own voice mail message today. We’ll

Read more

Why Caller ID is Not a Great Idea

Why Caller ID is Not a Great Idea

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote 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! Don’t discriminate. 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 personal note. Because, remember, it

Read more

OK? Well, no, okay is NOT okay. Don’t approve a negative.

OK? Well, no, okay is NOT okay. Don’t approve a negative.

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training St Louis MO., For a few seasons I was hooked on American Idol. If you’re not familiar with the program (and there are some who aren’t, including my husband!), please keep reading. I believe what we’re talking about here will make sense to you. On the show, when one of the judges ripped into the contestant with negative remarks on how poorly they’ve done and tells them they can’t even imagine how they got this far in the contest and beats them up pretty bad, the contestant usually just said, “OK.” OK? It’s OK I stink? They are approving a negative. What’s wrong with that picture? You and I know they are crying on the inside – mortified and hurt. If your boss told you that you weren’t going to be paid this week, would you say, “OK?” I doubt it! You’d most probably ask, “WHY?” or “What happened?” And, you’d be justified in asking. I’m amazed at the number of people who approve a negative. They say “OK” so quickly without any thought. In customer service when a customer is complaining or wants to cancel an

Read more

Avoiding Excuses

Avoiding Excuses

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor, Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training What’s the best excuse for not giving great customer service you’ve heard? Love to hear them and my bet is you’ve heard a lot of excuses. Excuses are semi-useless. It’s one of the first things we tell our kids when they try and get out of something – “Don’t give me any of your excuses!” No one likes excuses. Especially your customers. The number one trait employers want in an employee is RESPONSIBILITY; stepping up to the plate. When you do that, the issues, concerns etc., can usually be fixed. It’s the excuses that get in the way.  Don’t be an ‘excuse monger.’

Read more

Are You Positive or Negative?

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor; Keynote Customer Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Either way, one needs to practice. It’s easy to practice being positive and it’s much more difficult to practice being negative. Besides it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Why overwork? Our short video on being positive can help you do the right thing.

Read more

“How Can I Help You?” Is Not Necessary on Initial Greetings

“How Can I Help You?” Is Not Necessary on Initial Greetings

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training “How can I help you?” is not necessary on your initial greeting. You are there to help – that’s why you answered the phone. Besides, “How can I help you?” can get the person who uses it into hot water. Listen to a conversation verbatim that I recently had: I called my bank the few months ago. And that phrase greeted me: “Good Morning, XYZ Bank. This is Mary. How can I help you?” Me: “I just got my statement” I told her, “and it’s wrong.” Mary: “Gee, I can’t help you” came a rapid, bland response. Me: “Then why did you say you could?” I asked. It went downhill from there. The 3-part initial greeting is your handshake – your business card – the open door to your business – it’s what starts the relationship. Sadly, there are way too many companies not paying attention to that area. This is all we need when answering a phone call: “Hi, thanks for calling Telephone Doctor, this is Nancy.” Stop! Anything AFTER your name, erases your name. (Bonus tip: By the way: “Thanks for calling” eliminates saying the

Read more

A Telephone Doctor Assignment: CALL YOURSELF

A Telephone Doctor Assignment: CALL YOURSELF

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training As an owner, manager, supervisor or any top-level executive, one of your first assignments from the Telephone Doctor is to pick up your telephone, call your office and ask for yourself, a service or a product. That’s right. Call your own office from your home, outside with a cell, or from a friend’s home or office. Ask for yourself, a product or a service your company offers. Be careful, though, it can be very painful. Oh wait? You say you have a very recognizable voice and they’ll know you right away? Then have someone do it for you and be close by so you can hear; or if there’s an extension, use that. Again, be careful. It might be painful. A while back I asked my program audience to do just that when they got back home. A woman came running up to me and yelled, “Well, they’ll recognize my voice.” I said, “Yes, they might if you ask for somebody else, but if you call up and ask for yourself a service or product chances are they won’t.” We cannot fix what we do not know.

Read more

Let’s Start the Year Off Right

Let’s Start the Year Off Right

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   5 Sayings to Sabotage Your Business 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. You might have 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. “I Have No Idea” This is normally used as an excuse more 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?” There normally is a certain blank stare accompanying this statement. Sad. Instead, try “That’s a great question, let me check and find out.” “It’s Not My Department” Well, then whose is it? Let’s

Read more

A Little Quiz for You

A Little Quiz for You

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Read the three scenarios below and ask yourself, “Which type am I? And who do I have on my team?” #1.    The customer says (either on the phone or in person): “Tell you what, I’ve decided not to take the Blue Widget.”          Answer from a PASSIVE person: “OK, thanks. Have a nice day.” Customer feels nothing. Usually disappointed.   #2.    The customer says (either on the phone or in person): “Tell you what, I’ve decided not to take the Blue Widget.”          Answer from an AVERAGE person: “You sure?” Customer feels slighted. Probably could have used a little help.   #3.    The customer says (either on the phone or in person): “Tell you what, I’ve decided not to take the Blue Widget.”           Answer from a PROACTIVE person: “Wow! Sorry to hear that. Are you aware there’s a Widget maker that goes with it at a discounted price? You’ll have several uses for it. Why not try it? You’ll love it.” Customer feels great. Didn’t realize there was an accessory to go with it and buys the Widget and the Widget maker.   See the difference? Now, which one are

Read more

Business Friendly Customer Service

Business Friendly Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Expert on Sales and Communications; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   When you take the “friendly” out of Business Friendly, the only thing you have left is business – business as usual. And we all know that’s just not good enough. You may be asking yourself, “What exactly is Business Friendly customer service?” We define it as the middle ground between being too cold, impersonal and uncaring, and the other extreme of being too familiar. I’m sure we’ve all experienced both. Here are five points to help you deliver Business Friendly customer service. Every Call is Unique – Don’t Become Desensitized: The customer interaction you perform at the end of the day needs to be as upbeat and helpful as you were with the first one of the day. What happens is often times we get the same questions over and over and it’s easy to become desensitized. We need to remember that to the customer, his question is new to him. And it’s the first time for him; no matter what time of day it is. Solve the Problem – Don’t Argue: You know the old saying “the customer is always right.” Well, the reality is “the

Read more

Improving Listening Skills

Improving Listening Skills

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service and Communication Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Listen: Pretend you’re a real estate agent showing a 5-million-dollar home to a nationally known sports star. This sports star and his beautiful actress wife really like the house. If the sale is made, the commission will allow you to buy a new luxury car and pay off a lot of bills. As the sale is about to be closed, the athlete’s cell phone rings and his smile turns to a frown. He has just been traded and will be leaving town. He relays the message to his wife who breaks down and cries. Question: How old is the real estate person? Give up? It’s not a trick. You might want to re-read the scenario. It says pretend you are a real estate salesperson. So how old are you? You might think listening is easy. After all, doesn’t everybody listen? Well, guess what? They don’t! Listening is not the same as hearing. Think about a commercial for a product you have no interest in; it’s easy to tune that information out, isn’t it? Hearing is one thing, but listening and mentally absorbing the thoughts is

Read more

Five Sayings to Sabotage Your Business

Five Sayings to Sabotage Your Business

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   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 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 today: I Have No Idea This is normally used as an excuse more 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?” There normally is a certain blank stare accompanying this statement. Sad. Instead,

Read more

What We Have Here; Is the Failure to Communicate.

What We Have Here; Is the Failure to Communicate.

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Communications: Define the word Noun 1. The imparting or exchanging of information or news. “Direct communication between the two countries will produce greater understanding.” Synonyms: transmission, conveyance, divulgence, disclosure A letter or message containing information or news. plural noun: communications synonyms: Message, statement, announcement, report, dispatch, communiqué, letter, bulletin, correspondence “an official communication” 2. Means of connection between people or places, in particular. The means of sending or receiving information, such as telephone lines or computers. plural noun: communications Hmmmmm. Notice anything missing? mis·com·mu·ni·ca·tion ˌmiskəˌmyo͞onəˈkāSHən/ noun plural noun: miscommunications 3. Failure to communicate adequately. Communication. Failure to communicate adequately. Many of us may recall the famous line in the Paul Neuman / George Kennedy Movie; “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” (CoolHand Luke if you haven’t seen it.) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061512/mediaviewer/rm956369152 You can repeat something over and over and if the person still doesn’t get it; it’s pretty obvious then it’s time to re-phrase it for clearer communications. I hear about failure to communicate, a lot, within companies. And even sometimes, within our own company. If I were to have written the definition of “communications” I might have

Read more

Why the word ‘CHANGE’ is so SCARY – And a suggested CHANGE to that.

Why the word ‘CHANGE’ is so SCARY – And a suggested CHANGE to that.

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training DEFINITION: CHANGE; to make different Why is this word so scary to people? The word change is a scary word to some employees. It’s about as welcome as getting an electric shock. Mainly, I believe, it’s because when we hear the word ‘change’ we aren’t sure of what’s going to happen. * We’ll be making some ‘changes’ around here. * This company is going through some ‘changes.’ * Even ‘change’ management is scary. And when I tell my husband, “I’m changing the furniture in the family room” it creates havoc in our house. “Don’t change anything,” he says. Employees particularly get worried when they hear the word ‘change.’ What if you could make the word better? We can! Simply replace the word ‘change’ with a more positive, rewarding word – IMPROVEMENT! * We’ll be making some improvements in this department. * Our company is going through some improvement. * Dick, I’m going to make some improvements in the family room. Who would deny an improvement? Sound much less scary wouldn’t you say? Try it today. Insert ‘improvement’ when you want to use ‘change’ and see the difference. Thank you.

Read more

I Can Get it for You

I Can Get it for You

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   It was in a Las Vegas hotel restaurant. My husband Dick and I were seated quickly enough, but the wait for silverware, water, menu and a waiter seemed forever. (Over ten minutes for sure.) Dick has a lot of patience (he’s never used any). Thankfully, this time he held it in for a while. After more than a few minutes of no service, no water, no menu, no waiter, he waved the closest person on the waitstaff he could see and said to him (and nicely I might add), “We’ve been here a quite a while and we have no water, no menu, no silverware and no waiter.” Without missing a beat and with a big smile, the busboy, who he had waved over said with a lovely Hispanic accent, “I’m the busboy, but I will get it all for you.” And within 45 seconds we had everything – water, menu, silverware and soon, a waiter. Did you notice he didn’t demean his job with, “I’m JUST the busboy”? He WAS the busboy. And he was proud of it. There was no: * I’m not a waiter. *

Read more

9 Ways to Gain the Competitive Edge

9 Ways to Gain the Competitive Edge

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Tight economy! Reduced staff! Demanding customers! OLD NEWS: These days it’s extra challenging to satisfy and keep customers. It’s even more important than ever because customer loyalty is generally considered the primary engine today to retain sales levels and gain an advantage over the competition. It’s been this way for a long time; it’s getting more attention now. NEW NEWS: There are hundreds of ways to do better. Here are a few that we like. * Know your products and services . . . inside and out. Not being knowledgeable about your company and job is a big frustration to the customer. An uneducated employee is semi-useless to a customer. Job knowledge is key. If, for any reason, your company doesn’t offer job knowledge training, make it your own priority to find out as much as you can. Job knowledge is a key ingredient to serving customers. * Believe in your product and services 150%. We know of a salesperson who never had any formal sales training. However, based on their belief in the product, services and contagious enthusiasm, this person is a top seller. People LOVE to

Read more