4 Useless Words

4 Useless Words

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote/Workshop Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Oh, I suppose there are dozens, or even more of them, but our surveys have shown that these four words in starting a conversation have the ability to ‘kill’ the conversation.  HI, HOW ARE YOU? Looks harmless, right? Yet it’s been labeled “social noise.” Especially to those we don’t know at all, haven’t met, and may never see again. USELESS! There are dozens of other ways to open and start a conversation in person or on the phone. A few to give you to start are: * Nice to hear your voice. * Good to meet you. * Glad to talk with you. * Good to see you. * Thanks for taking my call. * You’re looking great. * Glad to make your acquaintance. * You sound/look chipper. * And on and on and on. “Hi how are you” can reduce effectiveness, especially on a first-time call or first-time meeting. Plus, you risk surrendering control of the conversation at a critically early stage. You pass someone in the hall, on the street, wherever; it usually goes like this: “Hi, how are you?” “Fine, how are you?” “Fine.” Done. Over. Nothing. Nada.

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5+ Interview Questions and Tips You Probably Aren’t Using and Should

5+ Interview Questions and Tips You Probably  Aren’t Using and Should

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Sometimes companies hire people because they’re breathing. We all get desperate. And it’s not fair to anyone – the prospective employee, the current employee, the employer, the entire company and eventually the customer. If you interview applicants, you know, of course, there are rules, guidelines, things you can never ask them; things you shouldn’t ask them and they’re usually the questions you really want to ask them. Most of us know the difference between legal and illegal questions. A few simple examples:   Illegal: Do you have a car? Legal: How will you get to work?   Illegal: How many sick days did you take last year at your last job? Legal: How many days of work did you miss last year?   Illegal: Have you ever been arrested? Legal: Have you ever been convicted of fraud or theft?   These helpful tips are all over the internet. But here are a few more. Years ago, I came up with some out of the box questions and have been using them for a while. Some of the employees who got those questions 15 – 20

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6 Cardinal Rules of Customer Service

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service & Communications Expert; and President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   FACT: The best weapon for a successful business is customer service. It’s that simple. We will pay more for better service! So whether you’re a small business owner or Hewlett Packard or only looking for ways to improve, read on. We believe in helping businesses get better at communicating with their customers. To get off on the right foot with your customers whether it’s via phone or face-to-face, or any of the other touch points, here are the Telephone Doctor’s Six Cardinal Rules of Customer Service. Adapting these easy 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, drop everything for that person. Remember, paper can wait, people should not. We’ve all been abused when we go shopping and been ignored and we know how that feels. Let’s not abuse our own customers. Remember: People before paperwork.   Cardinal Rule # 2 – Rushing Threatens Customers Sure,

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Negotiation Cliff Notes for Those in a Hurry

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service & Communications Expert, President – Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Those of us who negotiate normally want short, quick tips to help us. So here are some Cliff Notes to help you in those daily negotiations. And let’s face it, we are always negotiating. Family, business, you name it. I’ve even negotiated with a waitress. Long story. I’ll hold it for another time. But it was negotiating. So here are 8 tips to hang on your wall: 1.      Don’t discount a price right off the bat. 2.      Be strong and confident about your product and price. Your opponent will be seeking price concessions if your delivery is weak. 3.      Delay giving concessions until the end of the conversation. See point 8 below. 4.      Have a “nice” way to reject an offer. There are always feelings involved. 5.      Never underestimate your strength in a negotiation. Your opponent won’t. 6.      Negotiations begin at the beginning of the conversation. From hello on forward. 7.      Avoid ”goodwill” conceding. (i.e., Don’t give things away because ‘the opponent is so nice.’) 8.      When you GIVE something, be sure you GET something back in return. An order? A larger order? A

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Top 30 Reasons Sales People Fail

By Nancy Friedman, Speaker, Sales, Customer Service, Communications; President Telephone Doctor Customer Service. We run a pretty good sales team at Telephone Doctor. Several team members have been with us over 15 – 20 years. One even longer. Some have left after 3 weeks. My guess is those that have left, left due to one of these ‘reasons.’ Actually it’s not a guess. One of these reasons is definitely why they left. Like all lists, it’s not final. There are other reasons, however, I believe you’ll agree this is a good start. Share with your sales team.  They don’t practice their skills They’re not flexible They’re not a team player They don’t use their sense of humor They don’t use their imagination They don’t listen to management They make no effort They get too comfortable, too fast They interrupt too often They don’t ask enough open-ended questions They make too many assumptions They’re not sales minded in all areas They’re not able to handle corrective criticism They don’t have enough enthusiasm They have poor time management skills They don’t use their Saturday night personality during the week They don’t have a “Whatever It Takes” mentality They lose their focus They’re not able

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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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Do You Suffer From Emotional Leakage?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service speaker, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service, Inc.   Emotional Leakage – Getting Mad at Peter and Taking it Out on Paul. Not right, not fair, not fun. We’ve all seen it happen. A co-worker comes into work storming angry; mouth turned down in a frown; walks through the office without saying hello to anyone; sits down at his desk and starts barking orders to his coworkers; doesn’t come out of his office; and when his phone rings he picks it up and bellows out: “Yea?” Sad isn’t it? Something must have happened before he got to work and he carried it right inside the building. Telephone Doctor calls this “Emotional Leakage” and we cure it all the time. Hey, it’s no fun to get up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning. And it’s sure not fun to get a flat tire on the way to work or to argue with someone before breakfast. It’s unfortunate that some people aren’t able to shake it off and move on about their business. Emotional leakage is getting mad at Peter and taking it out on Paul. Not right, not fair, not fun. Taking a

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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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Is it a Problem or an Inconvenience?

By Nancy Friedman, Speaker, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service There is a huge difference between a problem and an inconvenience. You know it, I know it and your customers know it. Listen to what HAPPENED TO ME the other day. We ordered a new copy machine at Telephone Doctor. Gentleman brings the machine into the office. As he’s installing the machine, one of the ladies sees the screen has a rather large crack on it and tells the installer. The young man who wheeled in the machine came looking for me to tell me and proudly exclaims, “Mrs. Friedman, we have a problem.” Because I am a problem solver I asked, “What is it?” “Well,” he says, “the screen on the copier machine is cracked.” I say, “Can it be fixed?” He says, “yes ma’am.” “Well, then,” I tell him, “we don’t have a problem, we have a minor inconvenience.” He thought about that and then smiled. “When can it be fixed?” I ask. “Oh, today for sure,” he says. Then I assured him, “We don’t even have an inconvenience.” Why even use the word ‘problem?’ Why alert the customer to that? If you really need to let them know something

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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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Why “Hi, how are you?” is Semi-Useless

By Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor My mother lived with me in her last years. We enjoyed her sense of humor. Here’s part of what made me realize how useless the phrase, “Hi, how are you?” really is. The house phone rang. Esther answered. The man says, “Hi, Mrs. Friedman, this is Dan from XXX. How are you?” My mother says – without missing a beat, “I’m so glad you called. I have a bad case of diarrhea, a terrible migraine, been vomiting all day, my pacemaker is running slower than normal, and I have a bad rash. How are you?” He said, “Well, compared to you, a hell of a lot better” and hung up. Point being, “Hi, how are you” is semi-useless especially to those we don’t even know. I’ve seen folks pass in the halls, in a mall, in an office, everywhere. One says, “Hi, how are you?” The other says, “Fine, how are you?” No one stops; they’re still walking and nothing was accomplished. I’ve removed “Hi, how are you” from my vocabulary. It’s been replaced with any one of these phrases and I share them with you: Good to see you. Hi, you’re looking well.

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Costly Corporate Comments

By: Nancy Friedman, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service   We have all said them. We have all heard them. They aren’t dirty. They’re not 4 letter words. They’re not bad. They are comments that can and do cost your company time and money each time they are said. Why? Because normally they stop the conversation and divert it to something non-related to what’s really at stake or what you’re talking about. These are the top costly corporate comments (yes there are more) and they can be said to anyone; clients, co-workers and family as well. (They’re not in any special order.) Recognize them?         * “I willllllll.”         * “I’ll try.”         * “I thought I did.”         * “I usually do.”         * “I just was going to.” Let’s talk about them: 1.   The “I Willlll” is usually dragged out and often in a very squeaky tone and dragged out enough to annoy the other person – a lot.       It’s normally said because the person ‘forgot’ to do what you asked. 2.   “I’ll Try.” You know what? I expect you to try. That’s a given and frankly, insulting to me. It’s as though you’re telling me,

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Five Phrases to Sabotage Your Business

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

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eCommerce Customer Service

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

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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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Are You Really Engaged?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service Expert & Engagement Specialist.   A short, but ongoing course. Are you really engaged? Do you and your staff really know how to engage and interact with the customers? Do they even know what it means.   Seems as though every year there’s a “new” word in Customer Service. And this year it’s been “engagement.” Engage the customer. What’s it mean? Or better yet: What does it not mean? The answer to what it’s NOT, is – – it’s NOT the customer service experience. Don’t confuse the two. They are quite different. It is: Just as you might imagine….when you might have popped “the question,” (or said “yes” if you were the one being asked), you normally went into what is called an ‘engagement’ period. That’s the time before the marriage. Time to better know and understand someone you’re supposed to spend a lifetime with. Sometimes it’s short and sometimes it’s a longer period of time. But usually there’s an ‘engagement’ period. And so it is with our customers. Before they can “BUY,” before they can become our customer (before we ‘marry’ them), we need to get ‘engaged.’ Make sense? Or starting to?

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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 Killer Words to Drive Your Customers Away

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

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