Two questions you shouldn’t ask customers or co-workers

This may be surprising, but few people actually want to do business with you. By that I mean people may want the benefits of your products or services. But the actual process of arranging for your services may be more of a have to do than want to do. That’s why it’s often a mistake to ask customers or co-workers questions such as, “Would you like me to... ?“ or “Do you want me to...?” Frankly, they don’t want to go through the decision process at all. Instead, word your questions along the lines of, “Would it make sense for us to...” Would it be helpful if I...?” “Would it be useful...?” In general, we get better results with questions that focus on resolving the customer’s problem, than with questions that encourage them to think about their mood.

The Most Common Over-Sharing Blunders

You’ve no doubt noticed the train-wrecks people create for their reputations by over-sharing on social media. Unfortunately, this lack of discretion isn’t limited to YouTube and Twitter. Here are some of the most common examples of customer service indiscretions.

  • Emailing customers with bad news.  The tone of an email can inadvertently offend and generate replies that are copied up the ladder; taking more time and involving more people than simply phoning.  Better yet, if you can, go in-peron.
  • Telling the customer about your organization's internal communication issues, lack of staff, etc.  Customers don't want to hear it and it makes you look bad for staying there.
  • Complaining to co-workers about certain customers.  Left un-checked, this boorish behavior becomes the norm.  Customers start picking-up the vibe that they're being regarded with more contempt than caring.

The reminder for all of us is to think twice before speaking... or emailing, texting, etc.

Stories that Sell for You

Customers have so many options of where they can do business that your company can be perceived as a mere commodity. They assume that everyone's selling more or less the same thing, so why not just go with the cheapest supplier? That's why it's so impactful when you use this simple tool to help customers remember you. In fact it may be the only thing that makes you stand out from the competition. And it happens to be free...

To read the complete article click: Stories that Sell for You

One Word that Enhances Cooperation by 57%

Harvard Psychologist, Ellen Langer discovered a surprising way to gain cooperation.   In her study, researchers would interrupt someone making photocopies; asking if they could make their copies first.   Only 60% of machine users would comply.   Next, researchers would interrupt another user, this time adding a phrase beginning with the word, "Because..."   Apparently, it didn't matter what came after the word.   Even saying, "Because I'm in a hurry," resulted in 95% compliance - a 57% increase!   The lesson - anytime you're asking a customer, co-worker, or family member to do something, remember to add, "because..." and you'll gain greater cooperation.   Not bad for remembering a single word!


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Recovering Trust when Things Go Wrong

Imagine buying track lighting on-line and when you install it, discover that one head doesn't work. Since it's over two months since your purchase, Amazon directs you to the manufacturer, Juno Lighting. You phone expecting a hassle. You're quickly directed to a live person who offers to send an immediate replacement head as well as a shipping sticker to make it easy for you to return the old one. No runaround. No delay. That's what happened to my buddy, Gerald. Apparently, the folks at Juno Lighting realize the internet that generates revenues for them is also the same network customers use to either rant or rave about them. Now you, and thousands of others who receive my tips, just heard about Juno's great service. The lesson is when things go wrong, fix it faster and with less hassle than people expect. Customers will not only forgive you; they'll reward you.

Avoiding Round One

In my Avoiding Round One seminars for staff who deal with stressed customers, I suggest employees avoid the habit of asking customers, "How are you?" If you know the customer is likely coming to you with a problem, asking that question sounds like you must be oblivious and forces customers to respond by lying: "Fine." Or it invites them to launch into a rant. Not a good start. Imagine instead you are a customer visiting a registry office (a place where you may need to go but don't really want to go). Employee: Good morning!   Customer: Hi, how are you?   Employee: Fine thanks. What can I do to make your day just a little bit easier?   Chances are, as a customer you'll feel pleasantly surprised.   Apparently, you're dealing with someone who solves problems.   Quite a difference when managers simply schedule half-day seminars for their teams.

Connencting with Frustrated Customers

One of the most common challenges I'm asked to address for teams is how to regain trust with frustrated customers.   While there are several strategies, this one involves sharing customer stories.   Imagine teaching a customer how to use some new technology.   When they struggle, you reassure them with examples of how other customers found it awkward at first as well.   Think of it this way - your customer is taking a risk using your services.   It's comforting when they discover they aren't alone.   Consider when Apple computers first arrived.   Customer forums sprang up of Mac Users.   These customers felt isolated, yet by connecting to others with similar challenges they became fiercely loyal to the brand.   When you as a Trusted Advisor share other customers' similar experiences, you're not only reducing their stress; you're also helping your customers to connect vicariously with each other.

When to Take Credit for Someone Else

As a customer, you've likely encountered frontline employees who are powerless.   Let's say you have a non-typical request.     The employee states, 'I'll have to go ask my manager.' They later return with, 'My manager said that yes we can do that for you.' How demeaning. That response makes everyone look bad; the employee appears to be untrained, and the supervisor comes across as a micromanager. Ironically, when I interview managers in advance of my seminars for their teams, they tell me they want the opposite to happen. Smart managers want employees to take credit for the decision.   Employees have greater impact explaining to customers, 'I'll look into this and see what I can do for you.' Then after consulting your manager, say, 'Here's what I've come up with for you...'  You and the manager look better, and customers feel like they're dealing with the right person.

Customer Cellphone Etiquette

You've probably noticed that today's customer is easily distracted. It doesn't seem to matter if they're at work or on personal time... their mobile devices just keep pinging, vibrating, and signaling that someone else needs their attention.   Trying to have a buying conversation with 'wired' customers reminds me of the Disney movie, 'Up!' where, in midst of conversation, dogs would suddenly look sideways and shout, 'Squirrel!'  As I demonstrate in my live presentations, helping customers make complex buying decisions requires their time and attention.   To help gain both, consider starting the conversation by taking-out your phone and stating, 'Let me turn this darned thing off, so we won't be interrupted.   By the way, how's your time - are we OK?   That not only conveys that you consider them to be important; it also encourages customers to ignore their phone, and commit some time to this decision.

Top 10 Worst things to Say to Angry Customers

You may have great products but you can still have customer service problems caused by bad weather, equipment failures, or human error.  While you can't control external events, you can control what you say to upset customers. Certain phrases will serve to either diffuse or enflame.   After over 20 years of speaking at conferences and training teams on customer service, here are my top ten worst things to say to unhappy customers along with tips for regaining trust...

To read the complete article click:   Top 10 Worst things to Say to Angry Customers


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