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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I Can Get it for You

I Can Get it for You

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

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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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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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Ten Do’s and Don’ts Of Effective Telephone Skills & More Where These Came From

Ten Do’s and Don’ts Of Effective Telephone Skills & More Where These Came From

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training; Phone Skills Expert   I work with all kinds of companies, executives and staff. For whatever reason, there’s usually a group of folks who feel they’re exempt from telephone skills training. And yet, one thing they all have agreed on is there’s always room for refreshers and good solid tips. So, without any further ado, here are some good, solid tips for everyone on effective telephone skills. 1. DO acknowledge all your phone calls. If you’re unable to return a phone call yourself, have it returned on your behalf. Not returning a phone call is like not using your turn signal – rude and sometimes dangerous. (Not returning calls also labels you as rude.) 2. DO place your own phone calls. Or if you absolutely need to have someone else place a call for you, at least be ready when the person you called gets on the line. It’s legendary bad taste to get a call from someone’s assistant and then be put on hold to await Mr./Ms. Self-Important. 3. DO handle delivering bad news yourself. Not able to deliver a product on time? Canceling an agreement?

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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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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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2018 TOP JOBS FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE – WITH SOME CAVEATS

2018 TOP JOBS FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE – WITH SOME CAVEATS

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service   One of the hottest job sectors in 2018 will be in customer service. According to a story in USA Today, several industries will be hiring and stepping up their customer service to compete and attract and keep customers. Of the top five selected – they all have one thing in common. The need for customer service training. (But then don’t they all????) Computer Support Specialists – IT departments in nearly every office in corporate America depend too much on technology and not enough on personalized service. Many computer support specialists come into the job unprepared in the field of customer service and communication skills. They nail it on the computer and fail it with the human touch side. It’s one of the top areas where customer service skills are desperately needed. Computer schools teach technology, but most don’t teach customer service. Financial Clerks – Those who work in the industry clearly have their numbers down cold. They couldn’t get the job without that. But while they are number experts, many lack communication skills. They tend to talk ‘over’ the customer’s head and miscommunications are high. So, there’s a big need

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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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What Does AWESOME Customer Service Look Like? Something like this:

What Does AWESOME Customer Service Look Like? Something like this:

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker – President Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training who provides AWESOME CUSTOMER SERVICE Think of all the words used describing good/great/excellent/etc. service provided. Think of all the companies that say they deliver the best customer service and then don’t. So what does AWESOME look like? Well, it’s not one thing. It’s not one person. It’s a little bit of everything. Here’s a good sample. Names are protected although I really should disclose them for the credit one deserves while the other doesn’t. AWESOME: I walked into a grocery store and picked up an item and said to an employee who happened to be close by: “I think I’ll like this, but I’m not sure.” Without missing a beat, she says, “You know you can take it home, try it, and anything you don’t like – you get your money back.” Wow that was awesome. Felt great. And here’s the other side of the coin: We purchased an exercise 65mm ball. We asked if they could pump it up for us and we’d come back the next day to pick it up. It was about 2 pm. “Absolutely,” she says. “It takes about 30 minutes. We open at 11 am tomorrow,

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BACK TO BASICS 2018 STYLE

BACK TO BASICS 2018 STYLE

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker – Customer Service, Communications, Sales. President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training FACT: Customers go out of their way looking for companies who provide great customer service. FACT: Some find it; some don’t. Once a year (at least) it’s healthy to go over the good old common sense 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. So, at the start of the year, I re-run our BACK TO BASICS article with the hopes they’ll get shared and used. Here are 15 BACK TO BASIC customer service tips that are good old common sense thoughts, ideas, and skills. Short, sweet and to the point. Enjoy and share. 1. “Please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome” always have been, and always will be, powerful words. Seldom overused. 2. “You’re welcome” is the best replacement when told “thank you.” (NO PROBLEM/NO WORRIES are on the KILLER WORDS of customer service list.) 3. “Sorry ‘bout that” is NOT an apology. It’s a cliché. “My apologies” is better when there’s a screw up. “I’m sorry” is when you step on someone’s

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Why Tone of Voice is Important

Why Tone of Voice is Important

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   When I do webinars, I like to get questions ahead of time if I can. Requesting questions ahead of time from the attendees is a lot of fun and we’re also answering what’s on their minds. Recently, we received the question below: It was timely and relevant, and I wanted to share it so you all can have the information as well – and share it. Hi Nancy: My question revolves around how my voice sounds on the telephone. I have recorded messages over and over and I can’t get that happy sound to come across as being natural and genuine. I do want my customers to know that the voice they are hearing belongs to me. So, my question is, what can I do to improve my voice quality? Thank you and I look forward to learning at your webinar. TONE OF VOICE has come up several times recently. Which says to me there are other folks talking and thinking about this as well. One of the biggest complaints I hear is, “She/he didn’t sound happy, friendly, or eager to help.” The short and

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The Service Mentality – Does your team have it?

The Service Mentality – Does your team have it?

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Telephone Doctor’s www.serviceskills.com online platform offers 12 series of helpful content to help your team communicate better with their customers and coworkers. This is one of the programs. Most ads have a line of type or two about how well you’ll be treated when you shop or call there. Usually the advertisement reads, “We’re the best” or “Service is our middle name” – something like that. TV, radio, newspapers and the internet are loaded with commercials with companies saying they are very customer service minded. Why then, do we hear so many horror stories about how poorly people are treated? Clearly, not everyone has The Service Mentality. The good news is you can learn the skills of the ‘best.’ No one has a monopoly on a great service mentality. Here are 7 traits that exemplify The Service Mentality #1 – Sympathy / Empathy This trait won as one of the most important characteristics when serving customers. In so many cases you get APATHY, the exact opposite of SYMPATHY. True story: On a recent trip my wallet was stolen. Credit cards, driver’s license and a few dollars…all gone. I got ready to make the

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