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

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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

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A Great Hiring Tip You Need & May Not Be Using

A Great Hiring Tip You Need & May Not Be Using

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training I usually start with “This is a true story.” However, since all my stories are ‘true,’ someone told me I don’t need to say that. It’s a waste of your time and mine. So, listen up. Whether you’re hiring for someone who will be handling phone calls or a face-to-face situation, this is one tip I believe is missing from all the questions an applicant is asked in the hiring process. Years ago, I had the pleasure of bringing our Telephone Doctor customer service training programs onsite to one of the largest communication companies in the world. From Texas to Minneapolis; from New York to L.A.; we delivered over 20 programs to the call centers across the country. I still hear from some of the CSR’s. One of the concerns Managers had, and why I was helping and consulting, was the way the calls were being handled. They had complaints of no sympathy, empathy, sounding bored, tone of voice, not answering questions sufficiently, and several other comments/complaints from customers. Managers would eventually handle the calls; however, it shouldn’t have happened at all. They had me listen to

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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,

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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.

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Negotiating Tips

Negotiating Tips

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training EARLY TIP: Beware of customers who ask for “ballpark prices” unless you’re selling automobiles or houses. Most prices are firm. Try going into Macy’s and asking for the “ball park price” on the product you’re holding. There’s a price tag on the item and it’s not a ball park price! It’s THE price. Or try asking the server in a nice restaurant for the “ball park price” on the steak. Or your insurance agent on the new policy you’re buying, etc., etc. Not gonna happen. You get the picture. But there are ways to negotiate prices. Here are only a few negotiating tips:  Best not to start off with the price right off the bat. Put price in the bottom righthand drawer. Often a price cut will get the salesperson more excited than the prospect. You may think going in with a lower price will make the prospect grateful and give you an easy ‘go’ right away. It usually won’t. If they take your offer of the lower price, that indicates they might have taken it at the rate card price which is where you SHOULD be quoting

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Mission Critical: 6 Ways to be a Better Communicator

Mission Critical:  6 Ways to be a Better Communicator

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   FACT: No matter what you call your customers (citizens, members, students, clients, taxpayers, etc. etc. etc.), they are the ones who are providing your organization with its income. The single greatest way a company can distinguish itself from its competition is by the level of service it offers and the higher level of service you offer, the more successful you will be. Communications and listening skills are critical in delivering prime customer service. We’re going to give you a big start, 6 ways you can communicate better. *    Welcome the customer on the phone or in person. A big welcome will set the stage. Be obviously friendly. Be business friendly. Leave out friendly and you are just business as usual. Mediocre. *    Be a good listener. That means give good eye contact as well. Remember, hearing is physical; listening is intellectual. *    Concentrate – then concentrate more. Don’t let your mind wander. Stay with the customer. Give the customer undivided attention. *    Keep an open mind. That means let the customer talk. Don’t try and finish their sentence. Don’t interrupt. *    Give verbal feedback you’re listening. Silence is only golden

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The Value of Handwritten Notes/Cards for Business

The Value of Handwritten Notes/Cards for Business

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training A while back I read in Wall Street Journal about a man who asked his son to write a handwritten thank you note and mail it to the person and reminding his son not to forget to put his return address on the envelope. The son asked, “Where do I put the return address? If I recall, he didn’t know where the stamp went either. Depending on how you look at that, it could be sad or funny. Sadly, there is a huge lack of personalized thank you notes not only in business, but in our personal lives as well. While the “I-GEN” may deem handwritten notes ‘unnecessary,’ as some say/feel: “the note didn’t sound as though they meant it” and other odd comments, and yet, there is a definite impact and ROI of handwritten notes in business. My thinking is they better get over that. As an avid note writer, I hear it all the time, “Thank you Nancy. Your note was so well received.” I even get thank you notes for my thank you notes. And several times when I need to send an email thank you

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Take the Test – Are you Passive, Average or Proactive?

Take the Test – Are you Passive, Average or Proactive?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Read the scenarios below and ask yourself which type am I? #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 keep it? You’ll love it.” Customer feels great. Didn’t realize there was an accessory with it and buys the Widget and the Widget maker. See the difference? Now, which one are you?   FACT: There is absolutely nothing

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How Do I Answer a Business call?

How Do I Answer a Business call?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker & President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Ok, no rude comments please. I don’t remember that either, just looked interesting. And they probably had the same question back then. How do I answer a business call? One the most often asked questions I get in all my speaking conferences across the country during our question and answering segment is: “Nancy, what is the best way to answer our business phone?” Well, I’ve never said Telephone Doctor is the best or the only. However, I do stand behind the fact we have the most effective telephone techniques. After all, we’ve been doing this a long time. So if you’re looking for the most effective method in answering your business phone, if you want to be the most effective on the INITIAL greeting, come along with me and listen. We only need 3 things when we answer a business phone: 1.    A buffer 2.    The company or department name 3.    Your name Then stop! Anything after your name erases your name. The initial greeting needs to end with your name. “How can I help you?” is not necessary in the initial greeting. You’re there to help. You’re there to

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6 Tried & True Listening Tips

6 Tried & True Listening Tips

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote/Workshop Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Listening isn’t 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 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 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. The first step is all about you – your personal commitment to be a better listener. You need to decide to be a

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It Take More Muscles to Frown. Why Overwork?

It Take More Muscles to Frown. Why Overwork?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote/Workshop Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   “Nancy, can you really hear a smile?” Yes, you really can hear a smile. And more important, you can also hear the lack of a smile as well. If you happen to already be a smiler, you might want to pass this article on to those who aren’t smiling (or not). SMILE from Webster’s dictionary: SMILE: To smile, be astonished; to have or take on a facial expression, showing pleasure, amusement, affection, friendliness, irony, etc…and characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth and a sparkling of the eyes I like the “sparkling” part. And smiling is something most everyone can easily do. Don’t you wonder why more people don’t smile?  Show me a picture of you that you don’t like and I’ll bet it’s a picture of you without a smile. Say: Eggplant or Cheese? A New York Times review by Roxana Popescu of the book A Brief History of the Smile written by Angus Trumble asks a very good question: “Why do English speaking people say CHEESE to make you smile, but Chinese speakers say Eggplant?”  And Trumble continues, “The spontaneous smile of the little child is essentially truthful.” I’m not

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4 Semi-Useless Words You Use Every Day

4 Semi-Useless Words You Use Every Day

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote/Workshop Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   HI, HOW ARE YOU? Looks harmless, right? Yet it’s been labeled “social noise.” Especially to those we don’t know, haven’t met, and may never see again. SEMI-USELESS! There are dozens of other ways to open and start a conversation in person or on the phone. A few are: * Nice to hear your voice. * Good to meet you. * Glad to talk with you. * Good to see you. * Thanks for taking my call. * You’re looking great. * Glad to make your acquaintance. * You sound/look chipper. * And so many more. “Hi how are you” can reduce effectiveness, especially on a first-time introduction, call or meeting. And for people you see every day at work, or all the time elsewhere, it’s ineffective as well. Say something creative, unique. You pass someone in the hall at work, on the street, wherever. It usually goes like this: “Hi, how are you?” * “Fine, how are you?” * “Fine.” Done. * Over. * Nothing. * Nada. * SEMI-USELESS. Use a more original, caring comment. You’ll see a big difference. And so will the other person. Again, it’s not bad

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