5 Frustrating Voice Mail/Cell Phone Phrases

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor® Voice mail (business or cell) remains a large frustration in this busy business world. And it’s not just voice mail. The automated attendant is also on the list. In an effort to help reduce voice mail frustration, here are the five most frustrating phrases that your callers don’t want to hear. I’ll discuss the auto attendant in another blog. Here are the big 5 Most Frustrating Voice Mail phrases. 1. I’m not at my desk right now  DUH? That’s a hot lot of news. What a boring, semi useless statement. Live a little. Let your callers know where you ARE – not where you’re not. Tell them, “I AM in the office all this week” OR “I’m in a sales meeting till 3 pm.” Let them know if you do or don’t check messages. Let them know when you will be back. 2. Your call is very important to me OMG. Really? A big time waster. The caller is thinking, “Well, if I’m so darn important, where the heck are you?” And then again, think about it. Maybe the call isn’t so important to you. You just don’t need this phrase. Semi useless 3. I’m

Read more

Listen UP!

by Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor Do you know what the number one skill in sales and service is? I gave you a hint in the title. Right – listening skills. Do we really LISTEN? Most of us ‘hear,’ but do we really listen to what people are saying? Are there any methods, tricks, ideas, tips or techniques to make us better listeners? Yes, there are. Listed below are some of the often used skills of better listeners. What do you think the difference is between listening and hearing? Bottom line: Hearing is physical. Listening is mental. What do some folks do that others don’t in order to be a good listener? It’s pretty simple. Take a TV commercial. Most of us normally hear it, but do we always listen to it? Probably not. Especially if it’s about something we’re not particularly interested in for ourselves. Take the Super Bowl. We talk about the commercials before they’re even on TV. How many can you remember now? My guess is you’ll recall those that were of ‘interest’ to you. We probably ‘heard’ them. We may have watched them. But again, how many did we really listen to? Pay attention to? Below

Read more

Scripts vs. Conversations

By Nancy Friedman, President / Keynote Customer Service Speaker / Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   For years I have been working with companies to upgrade, tweak and help with scripts their sales and/or customer service reps. Fast forward. Now we’re trying to get our clients who ask for help with a script to consider going to conversations with aided recall. There is danger and pitfalls to both scripts and conversations though. Let me explain. Scripts were designed for actors. Actors know how to read a script. Most folks don’t. It’s that simple. When you give a person a script they tend to ‘read’ it. Well what’s wrong with that Nancy? Aren’t you suppose to read a script? Yes, but it’s the old ‘HOW’ you read it that counts. We have all been accosted by a phone call and someone poorly reading their script. Yawn, yawn or worse. And in the professional scripts there are words for everyone (all actors) to respond. In your business script there’s normally only words for what the rep is saying. There are no words for the customer – the responder (the other actor). Oh there may be some things like “if the customer says

Read more

Five Phrases to Sabotage Your Business

By Nancy Friedman, President Telephone Doctor, Customer Service Expert & Engagement Specialist   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 Phrases to Sabotage Your Business today: 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, there normally is a certain blank stare accompanying this statement.

Read more

eCommerce Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert and President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Unless you live under a rock, you know we are well into the era of the internet, online and social media. The demands of customers for superior service have intensified. No argument there. Remember: It’s all about the “experience.” To understand the impact, look at customer communication in two categories: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous – meaning that both people communicating need to be on the same device at the same time such as phone, face-to-face, chat, and the like. You ask and you get results immediately. No waiting. Asynchronous, of course, is one-way communication such as fax, voice mail, email and good old snail mail. (Remember that?) When we think of regular customer service, we generally think of face-to-face and telephone interactions. But today suffice to say, there are way more ways to communicate with our customers and the online is a powerful part of that communication. More and more organizations are exploring new opportunities in electronic eCommerce. They sense that they can reach segments of their audiences more quickly and effectively online. With this in mind, there is a greater need than ever before

Read more

11+ Theatre Skills for Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert and President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service   What type of theatre experience have you ever had? Why do I ask you that question? Because if you have ever been on stage in a play, part of a band, chorus, dance group, stage manager, grip, sound, prompter, make up, lighting, director, or any form of theatre where the audience and other co-workers are depending on you, then you probably already know the answer to why I ask. And you probably have a great background for customer service! I have a professional theatre background and it has helped my career thrive immensely in the customer service arena. Now, it doesn’t mean if you don’t have a theatre background you won’t be good in customer service, it just means you’ll understand the mentality of customer service faster, and perhaps better. Theatre 101, as I call it, is a perfect pre-curser to being in customer service. It prepares you in the best way for all these topics and many more. I fibbed, there are more than 11 skills. That’s a good thing though. Here they are. * Interacting with others * Being on time *

Read more

Do We Need to Agree With Customers?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote speaker, Customer Service expert, Engagement Specialist, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   As most of you are aware, all the stories we share with you at our onsite programs and in our newsletters, blogs, etc., are ‘true.’ Nothing is made up. They either happened to me personally, I witnessed them, or I verified the information if I am going to share it. Credibility is key to Telephone Doctor. We don’t make anything up. That being said, I want to share a story that happened to me the other weekend. It’s a clear example of WHY we don’t need to agree with the customer all the time. I went into my bank prepared to make some minor changes to a few accounts. It was a Saturday and the only other folks in the bank were the teller and the one lady (who never gave me her name and had no badge) who tried to help me. I say ‘tried’ because it was a comedy of errors. Now, please know, just because I’m the Telephone Doctor I do not make a big deal out of poor service. I don’t try and teach the person what to do

Read more

7 Characteristics of the Best of the Best

Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Telephone Doctor  Pick up any ad and there’s probably a line or two of type on how well you’ll be treated when you shop there. Usually the advertisement reads, “We’re the best” or “Service is our middle name” or something like that. The TV, radio and the internet are loaded with commercials for being very customer service minded. Why then, do we hear so many horror stories about how people were treated? Telephone Doctor recently surveyed several companies to seek out the traits, the characteristics, of those that have the service mentality. Clearly not everyone does. The good news is you can learn the skills of the “best.” No one has a monopoly on a great service mentality.  Telephone Doctor culled together the seven traits that were among the highest in the survey. Here are the results.  #1   Empathy 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. Simply put, empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if what happened to them, happened to you? True story: On a recent trip, my wallet

Read more

5 Killer Words to Drive Your Customers Away

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor  There are really more, we know that. But what we have found after a survey from our clients is these five killer words always seem to rise to the top. They are conversation diverters. Just as ALWAYS and NEVER are conversation diverters, these five killer words will make your customers and your potential customers veer away from the real point of your conversation. So 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. Remove these 5 Killer Words from your sales and presentations and watch the scene go smoother.  “It’s not our policy.” – Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it’s something we need to deal with on a daily basis I’m sure. What we realized was it’s not necessarily the policy that’s frustrating, it’s blurting out first and foremost, “It’s not our policy” or in some cases it’s “their” policy.The policy needs to be rephrased so that it starts off in a more positive way. We like to say “rejecting gently.” And rephrasing policies are a good way

Read more

5 Frustrating Voice Mail/Cell Phone Phrases

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor®  Voice mail (business or cell) remains a large frustration in this busy business world. And it’s not just voice mail. The automated attendant is also on the list. In an effort to help reduce voice mail frustration, here are the five most frustrating phrases that your callers don’t want to hear. I’ll discuss the auto attendant in another blog. Here are the big 5 Most Frustrating Voice Mail phrases.  1. I’m not at my desk right now  DUH? That’s a hot lot of news. What a boring, semi useless statement. Live a little. Let your callers know where you ARE – not where you’re not. Tell them, “I AM in the office all this week” OR “I’m in a sales meeting till 3 pm.” Let them know if you do or don’t check messages. Let them know when you will be back.  2. Your call is very important to me  OMG. Really? A big time waster. The caller is thinking, “Well, if I’m so darn important, where the heck are you?” And then again, think about it. Maybe the call isn’t so important to you. You just don’t need this phrase. Semi useless  3. I’m

Read more

6 Cardinal Rules of Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman Telephone Doctor  There are a lot of ‘rules’ in customer service, but few more important than the six we’ve listed here. Each makes a valid statement and will increase the satisfaction of your clients.  Cardinal Rule #1 – Personal Responsibility/Accountability: Don’t Pass the Buck  In a recent survey, we found that “responsibility/accountability” is the number one characteristic employers want from their employees.  Oh, there are lots of characteristics they’d like; however, the one that rose to the top consistently was responsibility/accountability.  One of the most important attributes a team player can have is personal responsibility – personal accountability. Those that have it refuse to accuse, blame and complain.  Those that do accuse, blame and complain break one of the most important cardinal rules. “Who” statements accuse and blame. “Who took my stapler?” A more positive manner might be: “I seem to have misplaced my stapler; has anyone seen it?”  Remember to take full responsibility with the customer. The customer doesn’t like to hear accusing, blaming and complaining statements. They know when you’re passing the buck!  Cardinal Rule #2 – People Before Paperwork  When someone walks into your place of business or calls you while you’re working on

Read more

9 Ways to Gain the Competitive Edge

PDF Version By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor Tight economy! Reduced staff! Demanding customers! “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 just getting more attention now. We just need to do things better. There are hundreds of ways to do better. Here are 9 we like: 1. Know your product and services . . . inside and out. Not being knowledgeable frustrates customers. An uneducated employee is semi-useless to a customer. Job knowledge is key in any position. 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. 2. Believe in your product and services 150%. We know of a salesperson who has never had any formal sales training. However, based on the belief in the product, services and contagious enthusiasm, this person is a top seller. People LOVE to buy from people who get excited about their

Read more

We Are Customers To Each Other

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor  Everyone’s busy, stressed out and short of time.   Are we forgetting some people?   We usually remember to thank our customers. And we probably don’t have any trouble thanking family. However, there is a group of folks that are often left out of the “thank you” pile.  And that would be our co-workers.  Known as our INTERNAL customers. The folks we spend most of the day with side-by-side. The folks that are thought of as our ‘home away from home’ family.   Sure, we argue and disagree with co-workers just like our family. And that’s OK, because most of us have a family environment in our office. We understand that. It’s our office family.  Our word of the day is: WACTEO.   No need to look it up . . . we made it up. Here are the ground rules for WACTEO: We Are Customers To Each Other:  1.    Understand Your Role – Each employee should know the mission of their organization and the role they play. Those of us who are in a small department of a large company can often times miss the big picture. If you don’t know the mission of your company, ask

Read more

Back to Basics – Common Sense Tips

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor®   PDF Version Telephone Doctor Customer Service training has focused an entire career developing ways to help companies communicate better with their customers. We’ve helped thousands. How? With our simple, logical techniques that most folks already know and we bring them to the forefront. Most businesses go out of their way to attempt to give good customer service. Some make it; some don’t. Customers go out of their way looking for companies that give great customer service. Some find it; some don’t. We have tried so very hard to explain to both sides. 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 out there. There is a mass of grey average out there. You don’t wanna be in it. Rise above that mass of grey and come along with Telephone Doctor. Customers love to vent. They love to report on how badly they’ve been handled. And today with the Internet, it’s sad how stuff goes viral so quickly. I cannot count the number of articles out there on customer service. Some are good, some not; some have new ideas; some speak the old

Read more

Five Ways to Sabotage Your Business

by Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor There are many, many ways to sabotage your business. And, chances are, your staff is doing some of these now on the phone and in person. And worse yet, you’ve probably even heard some of this yourself (ouch!). That’s the bad news The good news is we’re able to bring to you the top five sabotage practices 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 Ways to Sabotage Your Business today: 1. I Have No Idea This is normally used as an excuse more than anything else. It’s a sure sign that the employee has not been shown how to explain something to the customer. 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, there normally is a certain blank stare accompanying this statement. Sad. 2. It’s Not My Department Well, then whose is it? Let’s remember one of our Telephone Doctor mottos: Tell the

Read more

21 Ways to create The Customer Experience

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor  OK! OK! Yes, there are certainly more than 21 ways to gain the Customer Experience, but rather than overwhelm you, we wanted to start out with a palatable number. And 21 sounded like a good number to me. Any one of these tips will produce better relations in your customer service. The idea is to bring UNEXPECTED GREAT customer service. Things that most other folks don’t do!    1.      Smile! All the time. Right. Don’t kid yourself. Just as it can be seen in person, it can be heard on the phone. So as NIKE says…Just Do It!   2.      Say something nice at least once a day to someone. I was at the St. Louis airport a while back and the skycap came up to me and said, “Are you going first class or does it just look that way?” That was over 10 years ago and it still seems like yesterday. People remember nice things, just as they remember the not so nice things.  3.      Don’t ever argue with a customer. You’ll lose every single time. Don’t even get into the ring with them. “Maybe you’re right” is a great saying.   4.      If you’re sending

Read more

The Customer Experience – What is it?

by Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor The other day, someone asked me, “What’s Customer Experience, Nancy?” They had not heard the expression yet. And as I went on to explain, I realized it’s not just one item, it’s many things. How can you put the entire ‘experience’ into one word? Not sure we can. And since ‘customer experience’ seems to be the new hot buzz word of the day, we wanted to share a few of the tips that will help make a better customer experience for you and your customer. Common sense that they are, they’re not often done. 1. “No problem” is not a substitute for the gold standard of “you’re welcome.” “My pleasure” or “glad to help” will save the day and make a better customer experience. 2. “Sorry ’bout that” is not a replacement for “I apologize.” When an error occurs, “sorry ’bout that” won’t work. “I apologize” always helps make a better customer experience. 3. “Hey, how ya doing?” is not a good greeting, on the phone or in person. “How nice to talk/or see you/or meet you” brings the customer experience to the forefront. 4. Want to spoil a good customer experience quickly? Chew

Read more

Essential Telephone Skills

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor  Recently a Telephone Doctor client said to me, “Nancy, congratulations. Some people take a simple idea and complicate it; you have taken a simple idea and kept it simple.” We don’t believe you should scratch your head and wonder when you’re being shown an idea or technique. That old KISS method (Keep it simple Simon) is the best. So we have purposely kept all of the material in our programs simple – yet very effective. I’ve heard: “Hey what you do is just plain old common sense.” You bet it is. You won’t get an argument out of us. But you and I all know that common sense just isn’t that common. If it were, everyone would be doing it and we know everyone isn’t. Our DVD program ESSENTIAL TELEPHONE SKILLS is just that. A basic, common sense program – uncomplicated, yet effective. Ideas, tips, skills and techniques that everyone should be doing, but they’re not. So, this article is for those that simply want basic, common sense, healthy, usable techniques. Below are 5 of our 10 basic skills that are ESSENTIAL for better communications and handling of customers and, believe it or not,

Read more

7 Steps to Service Recovery

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor Almost anyone who’s been in a customer service position has had the opportunity of running into either an irate call or person…or a situation that, shall we say, is not pleasant. And even though it may not even be our fault, we still need to know how to recover the situation. Here are the Telephone Doctor’s 7 Steps to Service Recovery that will help make your day a better one!  It IS your responsibility. If you have answered the phone on behalf of the company, you have indeed accepted 100% responsibility. At least that’s what the caller/customer believes. So get off the “it’s not my fault” syndrome. And get on with the “what can I do for you?” position. “I’m sorry” DOES work. Every once in a while, I hear from a CSR that tells me they don’t feel they should say “I’m sorry” when it wasn’t their fault. Well, as stated above, in the customer’s mind, it is your fault. Saying you’re sorry won’t fix the problem, but it definitely does help to defuse it immediately. Try it. You’ll see. Empathize immediately. When someone is angry or frustrated with your company, the one thing

Read more

7 Steps to Satisfied Customers

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor Every business has one thing in common. Phone calls. Inbound or outbound…service or sales. How these phones are answered and handled is critical. New software and hardware is constantly coming into the marketplace…and yet, the one thing that remains constant is how these phone are answered, no matter WHO answers it. Telephone Doctor has a near full proof plan on improving customer service that will boost your employees moral – and more importantly – your callers will feel they have definitely “called the right place”. By using only a few of these Telephone Doctor tips – you will raise awareness and increase customer satisfaction. Here goes: We’ll start with the obvious. SMILE. And be sure you use our Telephone Doctor motto, SMILE BEFORE you answer the phone. Often times, it is too late to smile after you know who it is. There can be no discrimination when you answer the phone. Everyone gets a smile before you know who it is. Assure the caller they have “called the right place”. This needs to be said before you ask for any information. It’s very frustrating to be interrogated before you welcome the caller. If you

Read more