Back to Basics – The Gold Standards Of Customer Service

Back to Basics – The Gold Standards Of Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Founder, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service, Communications, Sales   FACT: Customers go out of their way looking for companies who provide great customer service. FACT: Some find it; some don’t. It’s healthy to go over the good old common sense GOLD STANDARD customer service tips. The ones we all know, yet often get left behind. 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. Here are our BACK TO BASIC – GOLD STANDARD customer service tips, thoughts, ideas, skills and techniques. Short, sweet and to the point. Enjoy and share. The world needs it. “Please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome” always have been, and always will be, powerful words. Seldom overused. “You’re welcome” is the best replacement when told, “thank you.”  (NO PROBLEM/NO WORRIES are on the KILLER WORDS of customer service.) “Sorry ‘bout that” is NOT an apology. It’s a cliche. “My apologies” is better, stronger and more effective when there’s a screw up. “I’m sorry” is when you step on someone’s toes. A frown is a smile upside down. Stand on your head if you must but SMILE, darn it! Show me a picture you don’t like &

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3 Easy Rapport Building Tips For Those Having Trouble Rapport Building

3 Easy Rapport Building Tips For Those Having Trouble Rapport Building

By Nancy Friedman, Founder, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service, Customer Service Keynote Speaker Rapport building is an art, not a science. Some of you reading this will pass on this article. Why? Because you already know how to rapport build with someone – client, friend, relative, even a stranger. But as good as you are, you may know someone who isn’t that great at rapport building. This is for them. So if you receive this blog from someone, take it as a compliment. Not an insult. Think of it as ‘closing the gap.’ By the way, these tips are for in-person and on the phone. Don’t limit yourself. Number 1: “Hi, how are you?” is NOT an effective rapport building statement. In many cases it’s an annoyance. It’s social noise. For others, it’s an: “I don’t know what else to say.” For sure: It’s NOT a rapport building statement. These are a bit more effective rapport building comments: “Thank you for the call.” – “Great to see you.” – “You’re looking super.” – “Your voice sounds good, have you been in radio?”-  “You’re looking well.” – “So glad to see (or talk with) you.” The list is endless. And notice none of them are:

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Every Business Has A Phone & Someone Answering It

Every Business Has A Phone & Someone Answering It

By Nancy Friedman, Founder/President Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, Customer Service Expert, Keynote Speaker   Who doesn’t want to get great service when you call a company? So much business is done over the telephone. First call, in between. Or ends up in a phone call after a chat or online experience. Before delivering a presentation, be it keynote or workshop, one of my ‘things’ to do is to make a few mystery calls to the company that has hired me. Not to make anyone feel bad or to embarrass anyone (I don’t tell the audiences: “Hey, I called some of you the other day and it was terrible.”) That’s not why I do the mystery calls. I call so I can hear what their customers are hearing. And while often it’s not very pretty or very good, I can always bring them Telephone Doctor GOLD STANDARD customer service techniques. I probably haven’t called your organization, large or small yet, so I’ll share one of our GOLD STANDARD techniques we provide to our clients. It always brings me a great deal of pleasure when I can tell my clients, “Your folks are super!” We only need 3 things when we

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5 Unique Ways to Get Your Customers to Remember You

5 Unique Ways to Get Your Customers to Remember You

By Nancy Friedman, Founder and President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training; Keynote Customer Service Speaker If you’re in sales, it’s obvious we remember our customers. But how do we get them to remember us? Consider these: Number one – When you call a customer, don’t ask them how they are first thing; ask them if they have a moment to talk. It’s very considerate. Very few others do this. Be the one that DOES, to be remembered. Number two – When you do have a good phone conversation, send a short email acknowledging it as soon as you’re off the phone. And yes, keep it SHORT. That’s not the time to send a squeal to Gone With the Wind. Also, same process after a face-to-face meeting as well. Don’t wait too long to do this. Number three – After each order you get from a customer, send a handwritten thank you note. You will stand out. They will remember you. Number four – Make them laugh. I have never met anybody who didn’t enjoy laughing. You don’t need to tell a joke to make somebody feel good or laugh. When you hear the laughter, they will remember you. Number

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The Customer Experience Starts Here

The Customer Experience Starts Here

By Nancy Friedman, Founder & President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, and Keynote Customer Service Speaker   Every business has a phone and every phone has someone answering it – eventually, in answer to those who are going to say: “what about the automated attendant?” What company doesn’t want to deliver a better customer experience? Not sure anyone will disagree it starts with the first touch of a customer. No matter what channel of communication you use. It’s not rocket science, it’s plain old common sense. And it can start with any of the 6 touch points of customer service. NOT just a phone call. When you talk about the ‘experience’ you’re talking about everything. NOT ONLY ONE THING. You’re talking about EVERYTHING. Here are six touch points of communication and a few ways on how to get it right the first time. Email – There is an art to a great email and delivering a great experience in this channel. Spelling and correct grammar is a key component. Voice Mail – Have you ever called your own cell phone or office phone to hear what your customers hear on the message? It’s an eye-opening experience and normally needs

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What’s Your Customer Service Grade Point Average?

What’s Your Customer Service Grade Point Average?

By Nancy Friedman, Founder & President Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, Customer Service Speaker   How would you rate your businesses customer service? On an A to F scale? Do you train your employees or do you just wing-it when it comes to customer service? If employees fail at customer service and are not helpful and knowledgeable, OR are unpleasant, your business not only could lose customers and lose future sales, but you also risk the chance of getting virally slammed on social media. So, what can business owners and managers do to encourage excellent customer service? Here are five tips that will help up your game and provide customer service that will generate sales and repeat customers: *    Start some sort of training now! If you have even a small dose of customer service training in place, review it with your employees, often. And if you don’t have a customer service plan, consider bringing in training for your staff. No time to train? Reminders are helpful – “Thank you for your business,” “Thank you for calling” goes a long way, costs nothing, and leaves a positive lasting impression. *    Meet with your staff at the end of each day. Discuss what went wrong

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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.

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Are You Writing Handwritten Thank You Notes After Each Sale?

Are You Writing Handwritten Thank You Notes After Each Sale?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert; Founder and President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, St. Louis, MO Not sure if I’m unusual or not. (Please don’t ask my friends.) However, after each sale (product or service) I’ve ever made, I write a handwritten thank you note. It’s in my DNA. It’s not “I usually do.” It’s not something “I forget to do.” It’s like brushing my teeth; I do it automatically and as close to the sale as possible. That shows excitement. They’re not long notes. And there is no ulterior motive other than a sincere thank you. I don’t mix in asking for a referral in a thank you note. Then it’s not a thank you note. It’s a manipulative move IMO. But I do know, after a handwritten thank you note, the reception I get on follow up calls appear to be very welcomed. It also appears not too many other folks do it. On the other side of the fence, I don’t get many thank you notes from the vendors I use. And when I do, it makes a mental note to me that says ‘nice, thoughtful, company.’ And certainly person. And I remember that

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Sometimes Even Your Best Friends Won’t Tell You. . .

Sometimes Even Your Best Friends Won’t Tell You. . .

By Nancy Friedman, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training; Keynote Customer Service Speaker Customers will walk and take their business elsewhere if they’re not treated properly on the phone or in person. But how does a business owner find out what the customer really likes or dislikes? Over the years, your customers have told Telephone Doctor what they won’t tell you. Here are TEN things they told us that bothers them. We wanted to share with you. All can be avoided. These are NOT all from one customer or one location. Many and varied, over time. Nobody greeted me when I walked into your store. No one said, “Hello,” no one asked if they could help me, and no one said goodbye when I walked out. Well, at least I wasn’t any trouble. Your sales staff looked tired. Yea, they did. Otherwise why wouldn’t they greet me with a big smile and some enthusiasm? It didn’t look like they even wanted me in the place. I bought a lot. I couldn’t believe no one said, “Thank you.” No one told me to “enjoy my purchase.” I did get a perfunctory, lukewarm, “Have a nice day.” Although it was said to

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.’

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Boothmanship Customer Service 101

Boothmanship Customer Service 101

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor; Keynote speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Anyone who has ever worked a booth at a trade show knows it’s just that – “WORK.” Lots of work. And sometimes, no lunch. Often long hours and the long hours are sometimes not very busy. And believe it or not, not being very busy can make you more tired than when you are busy. Bottom-line, put all those items together and sometimes we forget our customer service manners while working a booth.  Booth customer service is an overlooked art. Here are Telephone Doctor’s top five tips on GREAT booth customer service: EYE CONTACT– This is a face-to-face situation. Eye contact is a must. Looking around the floor show, trying to see who else is around, isn’t good customer service to the person you’re interacting with. Lock eyes with your prospect and give them your complete and undivided attention. Don’t let your head turn on a spindle. FOCUS! EXTEND YOUR HAND – Way too many booth folks don’t do this. Think of it as an in-person store or office visit. Shake hands.Offer yours first. (HUG if you know them. And don’t forget, they have a badge, so use their

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“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

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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.

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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

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6 Cardinal Rules of Customer Service

6 Cardinal Rules of Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training FACT: The best weapon for a successful business is customer service. It’s all so simple. We will pay more for better service. So whether you’re a small business owner or Hewlett Packard, read on. Here are our Telephone Doctor’s Six Cardinal Rules of Customer Service. Adapting any one these steps will make your day, and more importantly, make the customer’s day, a better experience for you and your company. Cardinal Rule # 1 – People Before Paperwork When someone walks into your place of business or calls you while you’re working on something else, drop everything. Remember, paper can wait, people should not. We’ve all been abused when we go shopping and been ignored only because the employee is doing something else. Remember: People before paperwork. Cardinal Rule # 2 – Rushing Threatens Customers Sure, you may understand something real quick, but rushing the customer along will only lead to them feeling intimidated and you won’t see them coming back to you. Take it easy. Remember, speed is not success! Trying to be “done” with a customer as quickly as possible is seen as being rude and uncaring. Take your time with

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