#smallbusinesstips

Transferring Upset Callers

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.

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.

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!

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.

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