Millennials + Customer Service. An Oxymoron? Or Great Generation?

Millennials + Customer Service. An Oxymoron? Or Great Generation?

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training A young gal, about 25, preparing to sit in one of my presentations at the NAR conference in DC came up to me with arms crossed and in a slightly defensive mode says, “You’re not going to tell us how bad we are, are you?” “I’m not,” I said, “and would never. Why, what happened?” She said the speaker earlier in the day ripped on the Millennials. And they were offended. I didn’t ask much more, but she was very frustrated with what the speaker said about ‘her’ generation. And he wasn’t even one of them. Let’s face it. Every generation is different. Yours was. Mine was. And more will come. And each was difficult to understand – and don’t often meet out own expectations. Yours, mine, our folks and so on down the line. And will continue to as well. Our new video program Generations@Work, available on our platform at www.serviceskills.com, provides an excellent look at what’s happening with this new generation. The group in the program are Millennials. They are given real questions and we get real answers. They’re not ‘bad’ people. They’ve been labeled, as many of

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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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What’s Your Biggest Frustration in Business Today?

What’s Your Biggest Frustration in Business Today?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Come on … everyone has one. Whether you’re a business owner, manager or employee. Here’s mine. My biggest frustration is having to convince senior management to invest in customer service training. I often hear from customer service reps and many other employees: “They want and seek better training, but it’s too often put aside for other company ‘priorities.’” Seriously? What’s more important than servicing your customers? The main reason for poor customer service is usually tracked back to lack of proper training. Yet for many companies, customer service is not a priority! Managers are so busy putting out daily fires that they often fail to notice they are losing business by not servicing their customers. Or perhaps worse, they assume their customers are being handled well. Smart businesses that truly care about dealing with the public and providing quality customer service invest in training programs. There’s a direct correlation between poor customer service and lack of customer service training. There’s great frustration knowing you can help a business perform better, but you must convince top management it’s worth the time, money and effort to train their employees in

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Why the word ‘CHANGE’ is so SCARY – And a suggested CHANGE to that.

Why the word ‘CHANGE’ is so SCARY – And a suggested CHANGE to that.

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training DEFINITION: CHANGE; to make different Why is this word so scary to people? The word change is a scary word to some employees. It’s about as welcome as getting an electric shock. Mainly, I believe, it’s because when we hear the word ‘change’ we aren’t sure of what’s going to happen. * We’ll be making some ‘changes’ around here. * This company is going through some ‘changes.’ * Even ‘change’ management is scary. And when I tell my husband, “I’m changing the furniture in the family room” it creates havoc in our house. “Don’t change anything,” he says. Employees particularly get worried when they hear the word ‘change.’ What if you could make the word better? We can! Simply replace the word ‘change’ with a more positive, rewarding word – IMPROVEMENT! * We’ll be making some improvements in this department. * Our company is going through some improvement. * Dick, I’m going to make some improvements in the family room. Who would deny an improvement? Sound much less scary wouldn’t you say? Try it today. Insert ‘improvement’ when you want to use ‘change’ and see the difference. Thank you.

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Negotiating Tips

Negotiating Tips

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

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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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The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Telephone Skills for EVERYONE

The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Telephone Skills  for EVERYONE

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Telephone Doctor works with all kinds of people. For whatever reason, there’s a group of these folks who feel they’re in that old ivory tower and exempt themselves from telephone skills training. There is one thing, however, they have all agreed on – that there are always a few good tips from the Telephone Doctor. Here are a few good DO’s and DON’Ts and a LINK to our new book below. 1. DO acknowledge all your phone calls. Somehow. 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 label 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 is 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 give bad news yourself. Not able to deliver on time? Canceling a

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T-L-C for Emails

T-L-C for Emails

Listen up. We did an audience survey at one of my recent speaking engagements. I wanted to know what really bugged folks about emails they received. Without hesitation, the top 3 were: * Poor spelling and grammar – Your, you’re; there, their, they’re; here, hear; to, too, two and the list goes on. And used by very supposedly, highly educated, smart folks. * Emails that are too long; too wordy. Emails that run several paragraphs that could be said in several sentences. * Subject lines that don’t match the body copy. There were others, but these three rose to the top. Then we talked about useless phrases used in emails. Ineffective words and phrases that could be left out. They’re not bad; simply useless and unnecessary (i.e., not needed). When these phrases are eliminated, the emails usually read better; sound stronger. Here we go: 1. “Just a note to let you know…” or “Just wanted to say…” or “I’m just checking back to see where we are on the order.” JUST is a weak, wimpy word. Not necessary. In fact, lame and useless. Eliminate the word JUST in your sentences. Read those sentences without the word “just” and see how

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Are You Camera Ready?

Are You Camera Ready?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training A while back at one of my corporate programs the owner of the company asked me if he could have 10 minutes before my session to talk with the group about an upcoming event. Naturally it was fine. I got to hear what he wanted and the responses. He explained to the group it had been a while since their company had updated their employee pictures. (That was evidenced, I admit, from the pictures on the wall and the 1990 hair do’s.) But I veer from the point. He said, “Next week the photographer will be in the office taking updated pictures of all our employees.” A young lady raised her hand and asked, “What day will the photographer be here?” The CEO asked, “Why do you ask?” The young girl said, “Well, I’d like to look nice.” Without missing a beat, the CEO said, “Why don’t you just look nice every day?” That was a lesson learned to me. Dress down days are fun for a lot of folks. But slob down days are an embarrassment to all. Be ‘camera ready’ all the time. You’ll never

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Is Your Business Being Sabotaged By Your Own Staff?

Is Your Business Being Sabotaged By Your Own Staff?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Could be, if your staff is using any of these phrases. There are many, many words and phrases that can, and will, sabotage your business. And chances are your staff is saying some of these now, without your even knowing it – on the phone and in person. And worse yet, you’ve probably even said some of these yourself (ouch!). That’s the bad news. The good news is we’re able to bring to you the top five sabotaging phrases and then show you how to neutralize the effects. So get ready. You and your staff are about to be in a much better position to handle the Five Sayings to Sabotage Your Business: 1. I Have No Idea This is normally used as an excuse than anything else. It’s a sure thing that the employee has not been shown how to explain something to the customer (i.e., no product training). This phrase is used as something to say when the employee doesn’t know what to say. When the customer hears “I have no idea” they immediately respond (usually silently) with, “You gotta be kidding me?” Interestingly enough,

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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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Making Cold Calls? How to Handle Call RELUCTANCE and Call REJECTION

Making Cold Calls? How to Handle Call RELUCTANCE and Call REJECTION

By: Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   A while back I was speaking at the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table conference and at the end of the presentation, during our Q & A, an insurance salesman asked me, “How can I handle call reluctance?” I was slightly taken aback. I really couldn’t imagine a salesperson (an insurance one especially) having call reluctance and being successful. That’s what I call an oxymoron. The two just don’t go together. I asked him if he meant ‘Call Rejection?’ He did not. Call reluctance – the fear of picking up the phone – and making a cold call, is obviously not a great characteristic of a successful salesperson. On the other hand, I understand and can treat ‘call rejection.’ Well, you’re asking, what’s the difference between the two? Big time difference! If you feel you happen to have call reluctance, for whatever reason, meaning you’re obviously reluctant to pick up the phone and make a cold call, start with little steps.  Call for information at a local store.  Call friends and talk with them.  Call folks you haven’t heard from in a while.  Set an achievable goal. Maybe 10 prospecting calls and

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Do We Owe The Millennials An Apology?

Do We Owe The Millennials An Apology?

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training The other day I had the good fortune of presenting one of our basic customer service, telephone skills program to 25 “MILLENNIALS” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We’ve all read and heard about situations with this group. But if the group I worked with is just a sample of what’s out there, good for everyone! We’re gonna be OK. They were sponges. They couldn’t write the information down fast enough. They had so many good questions. They thanked me over and over at the end of the session. They LinkedIn with me! They were more than AWESOME! They were NOT ‘know-it-all’s.’ They were NOT narcissistic. They didn’t rush me. They weren’t many of the things I’ve read in so many articles that bash them. They were good, hard working 25-35-year old’s trying to do a better job for their customers. They had NEVER had a program on communications or customer service in school. Their employer thought enough of them to bring Nancy (okay, ME) in for their National Sales Meeting. Thank you to all at www.Innereactive.com. Kudos to them. They are our tomorrow. And I’m so glad I got to be a

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