You've no doubt noticed that today's workplace is more casual; not only in the way we dress, but in they way we speak. I believe we've gone too far. Specifically, I'm referring to when you're face to face with customers or colleagues and you introduce yourself by first name only; "Hi, I'm Jeff." If you don't provide your last name, it implies you don't think you're important. And since there may be more than one person in your organization with your first name, it also implies you are hiding and don't like to be held accountable. Remember, your goal is not to become your customers' and co-workers' buddy. Your goal is to be considered a trusted advisor. Fortunately, you can prevent all these negative perceptions in under 3 seconds. Simply get in the habit of introducing yourself using your first and last names.
Common sense tells us that customers and co-workers won't be receptive to you when they feel rushed or distracted. That means if your timing is off, people will resist your input. That's why at the beginning of your interaction it's important to get them to commit to being fully present. Start the conversation by asking customers about their timing. As I share in my seminars though, you need to be careful how you word your question. Avoid asking a negative question, "Are you in a hurry?" A negative question sets a negative tone. Similarly, avoid asking a naive question like, "Are you busy?" Everyone's busy. A better way of getting the customer's attention is to simply ask, "How's your time - are we OK?" The wording is positive. And it's asking more than just about time; but how they are overall in terms of being receptive.
Ever come across situations where customers aren’t really sure what they want? If so, here’s a tool I created that I share in one of my seminars to help H.E.A.R.© your customers. Simply ask:
Happy – What are you happy about with the current product or service you’re using?
End – What would you like to end – what’s not working with this current solution?
Awesome – What would be awesome – what would be your ideal solution?
Restrictions – What’s are the restrictions – obstacles getting the way of this solution?
Asking these questions helps customers clarify in their own mind what they really want. You can then come-up with a solution to satisfy those needs and address any obstacles. In other words, when you take steps to H.E.A.R.© your customers, you are listening louder. It helps them see you as their Trusted Advisor.
Someone once said that life would be easy if it wasn’t for other people. Making a living however, usually involves interacting with humans. Your job may be fine when customers are pleasant and everything goes well. Sooner or later though, unavoidable delays, foul-ups, and interruptions can make even good jobs turn into, well... work. To help you have more up days than down - even when things go wrong - here are five tips I share in my seminars for making your job easier and your mood better. The bonus is your boss and your customers will love you for them...
To read the article click: Customer Service Motivation
Answer these 3 questions to see how likely your organization is to strengthen customer relationships and prevent conflicts:
- Are customers sometimes unclear about the process of doing business with you?
- Are there often extra charges or time requirements that surprise customers?
- Do customers contact you to request information that's already available online?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the problem is not likely your customers. The problem is your procedures are more complex than they need to be. The solution is not uploading more documents to hard to find web-pages. The real call to action is for you to clarify, and more importantly, simplify. The harder customers have to work to find out what's really involved in doing business with you, the more distrustful and resentful they will be. Bottom line - a confused customer is a reluctant customer.
Conventional workplace wisdom espouses the virtue of employees being friendly with customers. While friendliness is a good thing, too often employees interpret it as encouragement to become their customer's friend. That's not such a good thing. The key question is what is the most appropriate and profitable employee/customer relationship? Having conducted customer service training seminars for hundreds of organizations over some 22 years, I've come to the conclusion that there are 5 things every employee should consider as they develop relationships with internal and external customers...
To read the article click: The Dreaded "F" Word at Work
When things go wrong with customers or coworkers, consider the impact of using I language. When I do presentations for CEOs on how to respond to the media in a customer service crisis - such as a product recall or customers being injured - I explain the importance of starting sentences with the word I. I remind CEOs that in a crisis they need to immediately go the site themselves or talk directly to the people involved. Then when answering media questions, they should respond in the first person with, “I” as in, I talked with... or I viewed the damage. Using I language proves you’re fully involved in resolving the issue. Similarly, when you address a concern with an unhappy customer or co-worker, using I language (and actions) helps regain trust.
There have been volumes written on how to grow your business and advance your career. Many encourage you to network and get noticed by the right people. After some two decades of working with senior managers and observing what really impresses them from their employees, I’ve found that trying to be popular is the last thing that works for employees. The real secret to winning customers and being valued by senior managers is profoundly simple: keep your promises no matter what it costs you. That means making clear commitments. Telling others, “I’ll try” or “I’ll do my best.” is saying you have no idea if you’re really capable, so you won’t make a firm commitment. Better to say no up-front than say I’ll try and give excuses later. In today’s world of wishy-washiness, just the act of making clear promises – and keeping them no matter what – makes you stand-out.
Of all the causes of daily stress, one of the most common is a loss of control. It’s when you get stuck in a traffic jam caused by someone’s stalled vehicle. Perhaps your computer freezes for no apparent reason. Or on the phone you find yourself stuck ‘on-hold’ with no indication of how long it will take. That’s why in my Trusted Advisor seminars I remind participants about the importance of giving customers a greater sense of control. It’s a simple as offering to a caller, “I’m going to check the file for you and it will take me several minutes. Would you prefer to hold or would you rather leave your number and I’ll call back within 15 minutes?” That way, even if the caller opts to wait on hold their stress level will be dramatically lower because it was their choice. When we give more control we get calmer customers.
Imagine you’re a customer phoning to complain about unexpected charges. You explain the problem to the switchboard operator. She transfers you to accounts receivable. You repeat yourself to that clerk who transfers you to the manager. You now explain the problem that manager who says you’ll need to talk to the operations manager. They transfer you to that manager’s voicemail which states he’s on vacation. Contrast this nightmare scenario to instead when you call the switchboard operator, she apologizes for any error, says she’ll look into it and will return your call within 24 hours. She contacts the person who commits to resolving the problem. She then phones you explaining who will be taking care of this. Later that manager phones you beginning with reiterating his understanding of what your concern is... The lesson, transferring upset callers only makes things worse. Instead, take ownership: do the legwork yourself, convey vital information and you’ll save time, money, frustration, and most importantly, customer loyalty.