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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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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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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Improving Listening Skills

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker Customer Service, Communication Expert, Sales & Telephone Techniques for Franchisees, Associations, Corporations   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? OK, it was a trick. But no trickier than listening to your customers whether you’re on the phone or in person. Listening is an art – not a science. And while we usually can ‘hear’ customers, Telephone Doctor often wonders if we’re really ‘listening’ to them. You might think listening is easy.

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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

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Let’s Not Make Customer Service Harder

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor/Speaker  In a society where poor customer service is rampant, a well-trained company staff can shine if everyone adopts and commits to some simple service approaches. The result can mean not only keeping your customers happy, but also keeping them period! What is the biggest and most costly customer service mistake in business today? My answer is simple – “We’re just not friendly enough.” Customers should be treated as welcome guests when they call your office. Instead, they’re often treated like an interruption or, even worse, an annoyance. More than 90 percent of all customer service starts with a telephone call. That said, customer service mistakes happen anytime and in many ways. Customers can communicate with your company through any one of the six touch points of communication and any one of these touch points can damage a relationship, often permanently. Email Voice Mail Snail Mail Phone Fax Face-to-Face (We left off texting on purpose. Let’s leave that out for now. More on that later.) Two of these communication tools are what is known as “synchronous;” the other four are “asynchronous.” Synchronous is instant communication, when two or more people are able to communicate immediately

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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

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Are You Passive, Average or Proactive?

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor   Take the Test and Find Out Read the scenarios below and ask yourself…which type am I? # 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 with it and buys the Widget and the Widget maker. See the difference? Now, which one are you? FACT: There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these

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8 Sinful Customer Service Actions

  By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Author, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service This is not MY list. These “sins” are from my audiences who share their views when I speak at conferences across the country. We survey the groups to find out what bothers them from companies. And man, how they love to vent. And they love to let me know what bugs them, what frustrates them, how they want to be treated as a customer. Usually a freewheeling discussion and one that gets my attention a lot. It should get yours. So listen up. Your customers are talking to you. And customer service training can help you. Drum roll please…in no particular order. By the way, these go for on the phone or in person. As a matter of fact, all 6 touch points of communication.   Sin #1: Not smiling Man is that important. Our Telephone Doctor motto: “A phony smile is better than a real frown” would have helped the gal who was trying to help me Saturday. What a poopy face she had on her. I refused to let it get me down or let her infect me at all. I smiled all the way through

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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 *

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I’m in Customer Service, I Can’t Help You

By Nancy Friedman, Speaker, Customer Service Expert, Engagement Specialist, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service   So close yet so far away. A true but short story. The good Lord as my witness, these words were said to me the other day at a high end retail store in St. Louis, MO. Yes, those exact words. “Sorry, I’m in customer service, I can’t help you.” I stared blankly at the young man who said that thinking to myself, “He didn’t really say that did he?” But yes, he did. I had asked for some help to look at some jewelry. The first woman I asked said, “I’m so sorry, I’m with another customer.” Ok, fair, not great, but fair. Then I turned to the young man standing behind the counter and said I’d like to see “that” necklace, pointing to the one I wanted. And with a big smile (cuz he was taught that in customer service class) he said, “I’m sorry, I’m in customer service, I can’t help you.” All I thought after my shock was, wow…what a good blog this will make! I realized after he said it that he was in “their” customer service department, upstairs, probably taking

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Top 5 Kick Starters to the Great Experience

PDF Version By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor  (Win an iPad!)  How do you make sure every customer’s visit turns into the Almighty Customer Experience, the kind that creates a great lasting impression? You start things off right! Here are the top 5 ways to set the stage with your customers at your establishment, right from the get-go! And it doesn’t matter what industry…the top 5 are the top 5! Here’s what your customers are looking for in those critical first moments:  1. A Proper Greeting  The first words a customer hears really do matter, so make them count! The most common greeting we seem to hear is, “Hi, how are ya?” While it’s not the worst thing you can say, it’s weak and ineffective. Why? Well, because it’s social noise. Let’s face it… most folks don’t care how you are. And it’s usually just returned with, “Fine, how are you?” Again, there’s no substance, and therefore no basis to begin building rapport. Kick start that almighty customer experience with one of these:  • “Nice to see you!” • “Glad you’re here!” • “Nice of you to stop in today!”  The list goes on. Anything but the dull, overused, “Hi,

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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

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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

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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

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