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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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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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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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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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

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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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Will Your Customer Service Pass or Fail This Holiday? 5 Tips to Help.

Will Your Customer Service Pass or Fail This Holiday? 5 Tips to Help.

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert and Keynote Speaker; President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   The holidays are fast approaching. Few times are more important for your customer service. The holidays cannot only make your financial year a huge success, but it’s also a prime opportunity to gain new customers who will return year-round. However, if employees fail at customer service and are not helpful, knowledgeable, or are unpleasant, you not only lose customers and lose future sales, but you also risk the chance of getting slammed on social media. So what can owners and managers do to encourage excellent customer service during and beyond the holiday season? Here are five tips that will help up your game and provide customer service that will generate holiday sales and repeat customers in the new year. STARTERS: * Do some sort of training now, before the holiday shoppers arrive. If you have some customer service training in place, review it with your employees and those seasonal workers you are hiring for the holidays. If you don’t have a customer service plan in place, hire an experienced expert to spend a day training your staff. And if you have no time to

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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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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

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Why There Are Customer Service Issues

Why There Are Customer Service Issues

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Worth the read. A while back my insurance agent called me to come show his small office how to be better in customer service. Seems as though they were losing business, getting complaints and not doing as well as he felt they should. Even I had had a spotty experience with them and I told him so. So, when he finally called and asked me to come over, I did. I don’t think he had 15 on staff and of all ages. I presented a short, easy version of a NANCY program to get the ball rolling. Sharing things with them that were common sense. Say please, thank you, you’re welcome. Put that smile in your voice. Don’t argue with the customers. Don’t tell the customer you don’t know. Don’t ‘sigh’ when they ask you a question just because you have heard it before. Don’t tell the customer “we can’t do that.” And a few other important tips. The president of the insurance agency was impressed and called me over before I left. “Thank you,” he said gratefully, “we really learned some new things.” I

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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

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

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

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

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How To Handle IRATE Customers Video Blog

How To Handle IRATE Customers Video Blog

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

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Six Tactics to Improve Customer Service

Six Tactics to Improve Customer Service

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

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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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