Marriage experts say the biggest predictor of divorce is contempt. The opposite is not affection or love; it’s appreciation. So rather than focusing on our partner’s flaws, we remind ourselves - and them - what we appreciate about them. Working with teams to enhance customer service for over 30 years, I’ve found this practice also applies to our relationships with customers.
Some customers are inconsiderate and demanding. When we are swamped, our words, tone, and body language may send customers the message that they’re not welcome. Then again, without those customers we wouldn’t have a business/ job/ income. So next time you’re feeling less than warmly towards a cranky customer, take a breath and remind yourself what you appreciate about them. Even more maturely, take a moment to tell them. Watch how those few words make the encounter go better for everyone.
As an employee, there may have been times in your career where your have disagreed or been unhappy with a boss. The mature response would be discussing concerns directly with that individual. If that doesn’t work, then consider going above them, or as a last resort finding work elsewhere. Unfortunately, many employees take a passive/ aggressive approach and instead complain about their bosses to coworkers or even to customers. That’s a problem for everyone.
Whining about a boss hurts our own reputation more than that of the management about whom we are complaining. There are loads of jobs out there for competent people. Telling others about the ineptitude of management makes people wonder if we are too lazy or too unemployable to seek work elsewhere. It also shows disloyalty, disrespect, and a lack of discretion of what should be shared; especially with customers. The life lesson: Stop complaining. Do something about it.
Imagine you’re dealing with a company that’s performing their services slower than promised. When their front line employee attempts to fix things, which of these phrases would you as the customer find to be the most reassuring to hear: A) “I’ll tell my manager about it.” B) “I’ll look into it.” Or C) “Your problem just became my problem. And I’m going to pursue this until it’s resolved and you tell me that you’re satisfied.” No contest. ‘C’, the last phrase, conveys the take charge, responsible attitude that customers need and want to hear. Powerful results for a few words.
What would you tell the customer in this situation? You are a driving examiner and you have to fail an applicant because they ran a stop sign. An amateur would explain that, “It’s policy to not pass anyone who runs a stop sign.” A professional however, would rephrase the statement to, “Running a stop sign is a safety issue that we just can’t overlook. So, you didn’t qualify today.” The phrase “we can’t overlook” something gives the same information as “it’s policy”, but sounds more reasoned and acceptable.
One of life’s more difficult tasks is giving customers bad news. A common error is to start with the bad news – then trying to make it better by giving the good news afterwards. The problem is that as soon the receiver hears the bad news they become emotionally stressed. So they aren’t really listening anymore when you explain the good news. Instead, when giving both good and bad news, begin with good news (so they actually hear it) – then explain the bad. Hint – instead of calling it ‘bad’ news, say the ‘glitch’ or ‘challenge’ is…
Trusted Advisor Customer Service Video Tip
Time Management Tips
Reveal if you're working Smart or Hard
Typical time management methods often leave employees feeling like they are spinning their wheels. Team members want to complete important projects and take care of customers, but there are so many interruptions and competing priorities it’s difficult to gain ground. Fortunately, in this video I have three questions that reveal how by simply adjusting a few priorities, you can improve customer service, enhance efficiency, and help make more money for yourself and your company. As bonus, you get to go home at a decent hour and take care of your health and your relationships.
Here's a wonderful phrase that separates service professionals from people who are just going-through-the-motions. In this case the employee was coordinating the conference room at a hotel where I was speaking. When he and I had finished going over the audio/visual set-up, he cheerfully offered, "Anything else I can do for you?" By using that phrase, he demonstrated that he wasn't just an employee who needed to set-up a meeting-room; he was a professional sincerely interested taking care of a customer. Simple sentence. Big difference.