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Is your busy-ness turning people off?

Here’s a valuable lesson on dealing with stressed customers I discovered when I was asked to speak last year at the national convention of the Funeral Service Association. In preparing, I interviewed several of Canada’s most respected funeral professionals, one of whom shared this surprisingly simple, powerful tip…

You know how when people ask, How are you?, one of the most common replies is some version of busy, as in: I’m busy, we’re slammed, I’m swamped. While those responses may be somewhat accurate, they are often said - sometimes unconsciously -  to convey:

a. That’s right, we are really successful around here (humble brag).
b. I’m a hardworking person and you should be impressed.
c. Whatever you’re about to request of me, be warned I’ll probably resist and or resent it.

Now, imagine a loved one passes away, and you have the painful burden of initiating the arrangements. How might you feel if the funeral rep you talk with mentions how he or she is so busy? I suspect that at minimum you’d be concerned that the rep might be so distracted that they might not give your departed and their friends/ family the care they deserve. Just because of a thoughtless remark about being busy.

What if instead, that employee took the advice of Jeff Hagel, President of McInnis & Holloway funerals… He explained to me, “I remind my team members, we are never ‘busy’. We sometimes have full days. But we always have the time and attention for customers in need.”

Seems to me that advice is not only good for speaking with customers, it’s also a reminder of how we speak to ourselves. Instead of feeling like we are burdened with busyness, perhaps we should think of our days as being full.

Bottom line, our stressed customers, co-workers, and families don’t really want to hear us brag/ complain about how busy we are. And we may not be doing ourselves any favours with that kind of self-talk either.

How to Break Bad News to customers

video about breaking bad news to customersChances are, you and your team work hard to take care of customers. At times however, you may need to give customers bad news about delays, price increases, etc. Having trained teams on enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing complaints for over 30 years, I’ve discovered it’s not so much the policies and delays that annoy customers. It’s how we communicate bad news that determines whether we either help customers remain cool-headed, or launch them on a rant.

Check out this video where I share 5 common customer service excuses that bruise your brand. And I provide tips on how to adjust your communications - even when giving bad news - to make everyone’s day go better.

Don’t tell customer what you believe

Selling Tip - don't tell customers what you believe

Here’s a simple selling tip I recently learned from fellow professional speaker, Jeff Blackman. Eventually in the buying conversation - after hearing the customer’s needs - you'll offer possible solutions. And you’ll address the customer’s concerns. You may be tempted to use phrases like, I think… or I believe… The problem with those statements is they practically invite the customer to hold a different opinion.

Instead, when it’s your turn to offer suggestions, what if instead you said, It’s been my experience… With that wording, you are no longer tempting the customer to debate. You are relaying a fact.

Customers are looking to you as their trusted advisor to help them make good buying decisions based on your expertise and understanding of their unique needs. When you say, “It’s been my experience with other clients who’ve had similar challenges…”, you’re bringing real word examples and experience to the buying conversation - not merely offering an opinion of what you think or believe. Big difference for changing a few words.

How to Motivate your Team beyond Money

How to Motivate your Team by Jeff Mowatt, Customer Service Speaker and TrainerAs a leader, you know your effectiveness is measured not by what you accomplish; but by what you guide your team members to achieve. It’s not just a matter of getting marginal performers to improve. With today’s staffing shortages, we also risk losing our star performers when they don’t feel fully engaged at work. The issue is particularly critical now when team members are still feeling post pandemic lethargy.

That’s why in this video, you’ll discover 3 secrets to motivation I share with my client leadership teams. None require paying more in perks and salaries. All help both star employees and marginal employees feel more motivated to help your customers, and to help each other.

Please help boost my YouTube rankings by giving it a thumbs up, subscribing, and posting your comments.

Foul-ups that Boost Business

Jeff Mowatt holding wood bagWhat would you think of a driver who did this with your delivery? I’d ordered a supply of firewood from Timber Ridge Firewood, a company based several miles out of town. The delivery truck arrives as scheduled, but when I ask the young driver, Kolten about the canvas carrying bag that I’d also ordered, something unexpected happens. “Oh, no!” Kolten exclaims, “I completely forgot to bring it. Sorry about that! Tell you what, I’ll come by tonight on my own time and drop it off. If you’re not here I can hide it next to the stack. Would that be OK with you?”

I’m taken aback by this young man’s instant honesty. Many people would have deflected responsibility and blamed someone back at loading for the foul-up. The fact that he takes responsibility, apologizes, and offers to return later to drop it off has me wondering, did this kid go to one of my seminars? 

Sure enough that evening a little car pulls up and Kolten drops off the bag. I was so impressed I emailed his boss the next day to let him know he was lucky to have such a solid citizen representing his company. Now, I’ve just raved to you and over 35,000 other readers about the good service at Timber Ridge Firewood. Ironically, all that positive goodwill and free advertising happened as a result of a mistake.

Sooner or later in every organization there will be foul-ups and oversights. The mistake itself is not usually what determines whether we keep the customer. It’s what we say and do about the mistake that matters. When handled properly, mistakes can actually strengthen customer loyalty and build your brand. 

As you make plans for keeping your employees engaged in 2023, could it be time for a refresher on enhancing communications with your internal and external customers? Let me know if I can assist. We’ll schedule a short zoom chat about your team’s unique needs. Then if it looks like a possible fit, I’ll follow-up with something in writing for you to consider. Let’s move your team past the pandemic blues. Finally, in 2023 let’s do this!

7 Worst things to Say to Angry Customers

7 Worst things to say to angry customer by Jeff Mowatt, Customer Service Speaker, Customer Service TrainerYou’ve probably noticed that angry customers don’t always listen to reason. That’s why even when we mean well, a simple misplaced word can make an unhappy customer fly off the handle. Check out my video where I share 7 of the worst things to say to angry customers, along with what to say instead to regain trust.

Please help boost my Youtube ranking by giving it a thumbs up, subscribing, and posting a comment.

3 Biggest Buying Trends of 2023

Buying trends of 2023 to grow your business by Jeff Mowatt, Customer Service Speaker, Customer Service TrainerAs you make plans for growing your business in 2023, keep in mind customers are changing their buying behaviors in 3 significant ways:

  • how they interact with companies
  • what impresses them enough to buy
  • how they react to foul-ups

For tips on how to adapt and capitalize on these trends, check out my video. Hope its helpful.

Please help boost my YouTube rankings by liking, subscribing, and commenting.

Quick way to Win an Argument

At a certain stage in life – hopefully sooner rather than later – most of us have learned when dealing with angry customers, it pays to bite our tongue. In other words, we don’t waste time arguing with customers or rationalizing poor service. If we’ve made a mistake, we quickly admit to the error, apologize, and make amends. There’s no ‘winning’ an argument with a customer. We might win the argument but lose the customer. It would be a modern day Pyrrhic victory.

Question for you to ponder… do you use this same life lesson in your personal relationships? I admit that at times over 23 years of marriage to Lydia, I have debated when I should have shut up. Sometimes our ego makes us so self-righteous that we are determined to have the last word.

Ever notice that getting in the last word usually makes the conflict worse? Contrast that to if the other person says something less than complimentary, when we resist the urge to strike back, and instead bite our tongue. Often the other person sees our restraint and backs off as well.

I believe contemporary ‘wisdom’ about the value of sharing our thoughts and emotions is overrated – with customers, and with loved ones. Yes, there are times and places to have serious discussions about serious issues. But as I’ve pointed out before with my trusted advisor communication tips, for most of life’s little frustrations, often holding our piece, means holding on to peace. What if we let others have the last word?

Ask this before training your team

Ever had workplace training that was boring, irrelevant, or forgettable?  If so, next time you or someone in your organization is considering training for your team, ask these questions first.

Determining your customer’s budge – DON’T ask this

When helping customers make buying decisions, we of course need to come up with options that are going to fit their budget. The problem is we can sometimes shoot ourselves in the foot, depending on how we ask…

Q. “How much do you want to spend?”
A. Nothing. I don’t want to spend any money. I want to get this as cheap as possible.

Q. “What’s your budget?”
A. None of your business. Just tell me your prices and I’ll decide if you’re in the ballpark.

Note - customers likely won’t say these out loud. This is their inside voice.

Having delivered trusted advisor customer service and sales training programs for over 30 years, I’ve often learned as much from clients as they’ve learned from me. As a way of passing it forward, here are two alternative phrases that I’ve learned from my clients when asking about budgets. Fyi, these have been field tested with even skeptical, reluctant customers:

“What price range are you comfortable with?”
“Is there a budget I should be aware of?”

Either of these phrases is more apt to get you the numbers you’ll need without causing offence. And they avoid encouraging customers to lowball their estimate. Not bad results for adjusting a few words.

Register today for our 30 – second Trusted Advisor tips and receive as a bonus 15 Phrases that Pay for dealing with stressed and rushed customers.

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