Let’s Talk Voice Mail

Let’s Talk Voice Mail

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Our surveys are showing voice mail is now running far behind email to reach someone. However, since voice mail is still in use, let’s go over some of the basic guidelines of using voice mail. I often hear “no one returns my voice mails anymore” a lot. Could it be the way your message is left? There was a time, some of us might recall, where there was NO voice mail. No automated attendant. No, “I’m not at my desk right now.” Just good, old fashioned human beings talking with each other. Is there anyone reading this that disagrees, the first voice we hear, when we call a company sets the tone, starts the process, and is the voice that ‘welcome’s the caller’ to the company? I’ve not met anyone who disagrees with that. Then why on earth would we put a dull, monotone, robotic voice on voice mail? Between the automated attendant that greets the public and your own voicemail that says HELLO to the person dialing in direct, why not be GREAT? I’m going to focus on your own voice mail message today. We’ll

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Why Caller ID is Not a Great Idea

Why Caller ID is Not a Great Idea

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote 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! Don’t discriminate. 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 personal note. Because, remember, it

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OK? Well, no, okay is NOT okay. Don’t approve a negative.

OK? Well, no, okay is NOT okay. Don’t approve a negative.

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training St Louis MO., For a few seasons I was hooked on American Idol. If you’re not familiar with the program (and there are some who aren’t, including my husband!), please keep reading. I believe what we’re talking about here will make sense to you. On the show, when one of the judges ripped into the contestant with negative remarks on how poorly they’ve done and tells them they can’t even imagine how they got this far in the contest and beats them up pretty bad, the contestant usually just said, “OK.” OK? It’s OK I stink? They are approving a negative. What’s wrong with that picture? You and I know they are crying on the inside – mortified and hurt. If your boss told you that you weren’t going to be paid this week, would you say, “OK?” I doubt it! You’d most probably ask, “WHY?” or “What happened?” And, you’d be justified in asking. I’m amazed at the number of people who approve a negative. They say “OK” so quickly without any thought. In customer service when a customer is complaining or wants to cancel an

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“How Can I Help You?” Is Not Necessary on Initial Greetings

“How Can I Help You?” Is Not Necessary on Initial Greetings

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training “How can I help you?” is not necessary on your initial greeting. You are there to help – that’s why you answered the phone. Besides, “How can I help you?” can get the person who uses it into hot water. Listen to a conversation verbatim that I recently had: I called my bank the few months ago. And that phrase greeted me: “Good Morning, XYZ Bank. This is Mary. How can I help you?” Me: “I just got my statement” I told her, “and it’s wrong.” Mary: “Gee, I can’t help you” came a rapid, bland response. Me: “Then why did you say you could?” I asked. It went downhill from there. The 3-part initial greeting is your handshake – your business card – the open door to your business – it’s what starts the relationship. Sadly, there are way too many companies not paying attention to that area. This is all we need when answering a phone call: “Hi, thanks for calling Telephone Doctor, this is Nancy.” Stop! Anything AFTER your name, erases your name. (Bonus tip: By the way: “Thanks for calling” eliminates saying the

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Let’s Start the Year Off Right

Let’s Start the Year Off Right

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   5 Sayings to Sabotage Your Business There are many, many words and phrases that can and will sabotage your business. And, chances are, your staff is saying some of these now, without your even knowing it – on the phone and in person. You might have even said some of these yourself (ouch!). That’s the bad news. The good news is we’re able to bring to you the top five sabotaging phrases and then show you how to neutralize the effects. “I Have No Idea” This is normally used as an excuse more than anything else. It’s a sure thing that the employee has not been shown how to explain something to the customer (i.e., no product training). This phrase is used as something to say when the employee doesn’t know what to say. When the customer hears “I have no idea” they immediately respond (usually silently) with, “You gotta be kidding me?” There normally is a certain blank stare accompanying this statement. Sad. Instead, try “That’s a great question, let me check and find out.” “It’s Not My Department” Well, then whose is it? Let’s

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Improving Listening Skills

Improving Listening Skills

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Customer Service and Communication Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   Listen: Pretend you’re a real estate agent showing a 5-million-dollar home to a nationally known sports star. This sports star and his beautiful actress wife really like the house. If the sale is made, the commission will allow you to buy a new luxury car and pay off a lot of bills. As the sale is about to be closed, the athlete’s cell phone rings and his smile turns to a frown. He has just been traded and will be leaving town. He relays the message to his wife who breaks down and cries. Question: How old is the real estate person? Give up? It’s not a trick. You might want to re-read the scenario. It says pretend you are a real estate salesperson. So how old are you? You might think listening is easy. After all, doesn’t everybody listen? Well, guess what? They don’t! Listening is not the same as hearing. Think about a commercial for a product you have no interest in; it’s easy to tune that information out, isn’t it? Hearing is one thing, but listening and mentally absorbing the thoughts is

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A Great Hiring Tip You Need & May Not Be Using

A Great Hiring Tip You Need & May Not Be Using

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training I usually start with “This is a true story.” However, since all my stories are ‘true,’ someone told me I don’t need to say that. It’s a waste of your time and mine. So, listen up. Whether you’re hiring for someone who will be handling phone calls or a face-to-face situation, this is one tip I believe is missing from all the questions an applicant is asked in the hiring process. Years ago, I had the pleasure of bringing our Telephone Doctor customer service training programs onsite to one of the largest communication companies in the world. From Texas to Minneapolis; from New York to L.A.; we delivered over 20 programs to the call centers across the country. I still hear from some of the CSR’s. One of the concerns Managers had, and why I was helping and consulting, was the way the calls were being handled. They had complaints of no sympathy, empathy, sounding bored, tone of voice, not answering questions sufficiently, and several other comments/complaints from customers. Managers would eventually handle the calls; however, it shouldn’t have happened at all. They had me listen to

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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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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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How Do I Answer a Business call?

How Do I Answer a Business call?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker & President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Ok, no rude comments please. I don’t remember that either, just looked interesting. And they probably had the same question back then. How do I answer a business call? One the most often asked questions I get in all my speaking conferences across the country during our question and answering segment is: “Nancy, what is the best way to answer our business phone?” Well, I’ve never said Telephone Doctor is the best or the only. However, I do stand behind the fact we have the most effective telephone techniques. After all, we’ve been doing this a long time. So if you’re looking for the most effective method in answering your business phone, if you want to be the most effective on the INITIAL greeting, come along with me and listen. We only need 3 things when we answer a business phone: 1.    A buffer 2.    The company or department name 3.    Your name Then stop! Anything after your name erases your name. The initial greeting needs to end with your name. “How can I help you?” is not necessary in the initial greeting. You’re there to help. You’re there to

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4 Semi-Useless Words You Use Every Day

4 Semi-Useless Words You Use Every Day

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote/Workshop Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   HI, HOW ARE YOU? Looks harmless, right? Yet it’s been labeled “social noise.” Especially to those we don’t know, haven’t met, and may never see again. SEMI-USELESS! There are dozens of other ways to open and start a conversation in person or on the phone. A few 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 so many more. “Hi how are you” can reduce effectiveness, especially on a first-time introduction, call or meeting. And for people you see every day at work, or all the time elsewhere, it’s ineffective as well. Say something creative, unique. You pass someone in the hall at work, on the street, wherever. It usually goes like this: “Hi, how are you?” * “Fine, how are you?” * “Fine.” Done. * Over. * Nothing. * Nada. * SEMI-USELESS. Use a more original, caring comment. You’ll see a big difference. And so will the other person. Again, it’s not bad

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Why Caller ID Can Be Awkward

Why Caller ID Can Be Awkward

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Be VERY CAREFUL using CALLER ID. Below is a one-minute video blog on why it’s best to answer all phones – office, home and cell (and whatever other phone you might have), simply with either “Hello” or “Hi, this is….” (I use Nancy. Please use your own name.) There are many horror stories of what has happened when you ‘think’ it’s the name showing up and it turns out WHOOPS, it’s not that person. Here’s a 1-minute VIDEO BLOG on why caller ID may be good, but you need to consider the consequences when it’s NOT who you see/think it is. Enjoy and please share to help others. http://www.nancyfriedman.com/2016/12/20/caller-id-can-dangerous/

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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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Words that Drive Customers Away

Words that Drive Customers Away

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   We call them conversation diverters. Killer words are words that make your customers and your potential customers (and oftentimes friends and family) 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. In no order of importance, here are five of the top-rated killer words. Remove them from your sales and presentations as well as your customer interactions and watch the scene go smoother. 1.  “No Problem” – The customer is thinking, “When was I a problem?” Believe we can thank the ‘islands’ for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what’s the first thing the waiter says? Right, “No problem.” Well on the cruise it may be okay; however, back home it should be: The GOLD STANDARD of: “You’re welcome,” “My pleasure,” “Happy to help,” and a host of other ways to let the customer know you’re glad to do that. “No problem” appears to be a big problem with your

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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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Have You Ever Called You? Go on, ask for yourself. Do it now. See what happens.

Have You Ever Called You? Go on, ask for yourself. Do it now. See what happens.

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote/Workshop Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training   You’ll be amazed at the answers. And what your team knows or doesn’t know. It’s one of the best ways to see how your customers are being treated. I do it a lot. Read what happens when I do. And watch our 1:50 video blog on how important it is. CALL YOUR OFFICE & ASK FOR YOU, A SERVICE or A PRODUCT  

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“Hi Bob!” Oh my! Maybe it’s NOT BOB???

“Hi Bob!” Oh my! Maybe it’s NOT BOB???

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training Why you need to be VERY CAREFUL using CALLER ID. A short video story on why it’s best to answer all phones – office, home and cell (and whatever other phone you might have), simply with, “Hi, this is….” (I use Nancy. . .you use your own name.) There are too many horror stories of what has happened when you ‘think’ it’s one person and it turns out WHOOPS, it’s not that person. Here’s a 1-minute VIDEO BLOG on why caller ID may be good, but you need to consider the consequences when it’s NOT who you see it is. Enjoy and please share. http://www.nancyfriedman.com/2016/12/20/caller-id-can-dangerous/  

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How To Avoid Emotional Leakage – Getting Mad at Peter and Taking it Out on Paul

How To Avoid Emotional Leakage – Getting Mad at Peter and Taking it Out on Paul

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training We’ve all seen it happen. A coworker 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 can’t 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 negative emotion out on someone who wasn’t involved? How RUDE can you get? If emotionally leaking on coworkers certainly isn’t fair,

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