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Posts Tagged ‘customer satisfaction’

The #1 Reason People (and Organizations) Fail to Improve Customer Service

Monday, August 20th, 2012

How often do you find that you and your family or friends discussing a horrible customer service experience – something that happened at a local store, on the telephone, with a service person, etc.? If you are like most, these conversations happen with alarming regularity. Weekly – sometimes daily. Do you have places to which you have vowed never to return because of a poor experience you received? Again, if you are like most, the answer is a resounding yes.

So why does this keep happening? Why is it that so many people – and entire organizations – don’t seem to understand how to deliver customer service? The answer, ironically enough. is that most people aren’t improving because they already believe they do understand it. (more…)

Memorable Customer Service Activity

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Instructions: Pass out handout for this exercise.  Allow 5 minutes for individuals to complete it.

• Say: “Studies have shown that most customers never complain about poor service…they just walk out and don’t come back!  Also, most of us will tell our stories, especially about bad service, to approximately 10 other people.”

• Break into small groups* so everyone has time to share at least one positive and one negative example (two examples of each if time permits).

• Ask participants to turn the negative example into a positive one—what could have been done differently to improve this service and the customer’s experience?

• Bring groups together and ask each group to share one example only of unique or outstanding service.  You may wish to list these on the board or flip chart.  Allow 5 minutes for sharing of examples.

Conclude by stating in your own words: “While we’re done with these positive and negative examples, we know this is really only the beginning of how we can provide the best service to our customers.  Good service is a full-time job that we must stay alert to at all times with our verbal and non-verbal language, our facial expressions, our tone of voice and our overall attitude.”

*Note: Small group size will vary based on overall attendance, but 3-4 maximum will allow best participation.

Handout:

Recent Positive Examples of Customer Service:

We really don’t need experts to tell us about good customer service since each of us is also a customer and knows what we like and don’t like.

Instructions: List some “memorable” positive traits, behaviors, phrases and expressions of recent service encounters you’ve experienced.

1. __________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________

3. __________________________________________________

4. __________________________________________________

5. __________________________________________________

Review and prioritize your top two examples.

 

Recent Negative Examples of Customer Service:

Instructions: List some “memorable” negative traits, behaviors, phrases and expressions of recent service encounters you’ve experienced.

1. __________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________

3. __________________________________________________

4. __________________________________________________

5. __________________________________________________

Review and prioritize your top two examples.

Excerpted from the Leader’s Guide for Remember Me, 3rd Edition.

Need help in this area? CRM Learning’s best-selling program, Remember Me?, reminds service providers that it is typically the simple things (like common courtesy and professionalism) that matter most to customers.

Need help in this area:   CRM Learning’s best-selling program, Remember Me?, reminds service providers
that it is typically the simple things (like common courtesy and professionalism) that matter most to customers.

Six Keys to Creating “Wow” Customer Service Experiences

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

by Robert L. Moment

Customers of every kind of business imaginable these days bemoan the state of customer service. While the global economy and the Internet have given businesses the opportunity to serve more clients than ever before, the trend has also given way to impersonal, lackluster customer service. It’s unfortunate that most businesses today don’t realize that they are regularly losing valuable customers if they don’t focus on providing an exceptional customer service experience.

In most businesses, once a customer begins dealing with the customer service department, he or she is already in a negative mindset. The best customer service representatives aren’t those that simply neutralize the problem. Outstanding customer service representatives take a negative and turn it into a positive that ensures the customer is not only happy, but is convinced he or she has had an outstanding experience – the Wow Factor – that he would not have gotten with any other company.

The key ingredients of the Wow experience are:

• Seamless Service
• Trustworthy Service
• Attentiveness
• Resourcefulness
• Courtesy
• Pro-active Service

Seamless Service means providing everything the customer needs, not just what is required to meet the minimum standards. It’s about making sure that they don’t have to wait and wonder. Customers will appreciate a smooth, seamless process for addressing their needs. If there are several steps needed to take care of their concerns, keep them in the loop – update them by email or with a quick phone call so that they know you are working on the situation and progress is being made. By keeping them abreast of what is going on, you are letting them know you haven’t forgotten about them and that you understand their concerns – reassurance and communication are powerful customer service tools.

Trustworthy Service is essential to retaining customers. Promising a customer anything and delivering nothing is the surest way to not only lose a customer, but get the kind of “word of mouth” bad press that can ruin you. Under-promise and over-deliver – If you promise a satisfactory solution and then go the extra mile to not only satisfy the customer, but gain their appreciation and “Wow” them, you will get word of mouth that will bring new customers to you.

Attentive Service means paying attention during and after the initial contact. How many times have you contacted customer service and been subjected to an obviously scripted response from the customer service representative? Does it give you the feeling they aren’t really listening, but just trying to get to the end of their canned presentation?

Attentiveness should run through every customer service experience, from listening carefully to the customer’s concerns to following up after the exchange is over to make sure their needs have been met. Listening isn’t just about hearing – it is about understanding what is really being said. The words are just the beginning –what about the customer’s tone of voice? Her mood? Is she disappointed, angry or frustrated? Keying in to the customer’s mood and responding appropriately is essential, and it means not following a script.

Resourcefulness means finding solutions when there appear to be none. Many companies have iron-clad policies that must be followed whenever a problem arises; however, sometimes a customer won’t be satisfied by the “company line” approach. Resourceful customer service representatives know that there is always a way to move beyond the standard procedures in order to make a customer happy. Resourcefulness involves finding a solution when a solution isn’t apparent. This may mean moving up the chain of command before the customer demands to talk to your superior. Companies with excellent customer service also give their representatives some leeway so that they can come up with creative solutions on their own. When a customer senses that you are going beyond the norm to help them, they will feel valued and respected.

Courtesy is a commodity that is becoming rarer every day. It takes so little to be polite but it is becoming a lost art. Say please when you ask a customer a question, thank them for their information and take your time talking to them. Nothing makes a customer feel more devalued than being treated like a number. Use the person’s name, make requests rather than demands and know when to apologize. When something goes wrong for a customer, they want to hear that you understand their frustration and that you are genuinely sorry that they are being inconvenienced. It takes nothing to say, “I’m so sorry you aren’t satisfied and I hope we can do something to correct this.”

Pro-active Service means not waiting for the customer to come up with a solution that you simply follow through on. A pro-active customer service representative anticipates the needs of the customer and follows through. Don’t wait for the customer to ask you what you are willing to do – anticipate the question and answer it before they can ask. If they call and say they aren’t satisfied, apologize and immediately suggest some solutions. Customers want you to take the lead – acknowledge their unhappiness, offer a solution or solutions and explain to them how you are going to follow through. Pro-active service means taking the lead, which will reassure your customers that you know what you are doing and that you will follow through.

If you keep these six keys in mind – seamless service, trustworthiness, attentiveness, resourcefulness, courtesy and pro-active service – you will be able to offer every customer the Wow Customer Service Experience that inspires loyalty and keeps customers coming back for more.

Robert Moment is an innovative customer service consultant, business coach and author of “Invisible Profits: The Power of Exceptional Customer Service”. Visit http://www.customerservicetrainingskills.com and sign-up for the FREE 5 Day e-course titled, “Creating Wow Customer Service Experiences”.

Need help in this area? One of the most popular customer service training videos ever, Remember Me reminds us that some customers don’t complain when they are treated badly, they just quietly take their business elsewhere.

Mummies: Great for Halloween, Bad for Customer Service

Monday, October 19th, 2009

In a world of pre-recorded phone service, automated banking, and downloaded technical support, it’s become common to expect a disembodied voice or just impersonal service from the companies we contact. It’s like…speaking to a mummy. So it’s more important than ever for customers to know there’s a friendly human they can speak to for answers and assistance. Customer service representatives give an organization heart, soul, and feelings. They are often the first point of contact for customers, a critical component in how customers judge and determine whether they’ll want to do business with an organization.

When a customer or potential customer calls or visits a company and speaks to a service representative, there is a “Moment of Truth” during which the customer evaluates the company. It may be a subconscious mental rating or, after a few encounters, a deliberate one.

People these days are demanding more personal attention from businesses. In response, companies expect their service representatives to provide the empathy, knowledge and problem-solving abilities that keep customers happy. That’s a lot to expect, but with the following basics, customer support can provide those satisfactory “Moments of Truth” that are beneficial to both the customer and the organization.

Think of the Worst Communicator You Know – Then Do the Opposite
Have you ever felt like you’re being talked at, rather than talked to? It makes you feel like you’re not part of the conversation; that you’re expected to listen, but not respond. When you start spouting technical jargon at a customer, that’s how they feel. You’re not connecting with them, and you’re probably making them even more frustrated. Sure, insurance company policies or seasonal utility rates seem simple to you, but it may be gibberish to the caller. Speak clearly to your customers in words they’ll understand, and question them to make sure they’re following you.

Think of how your voice sounds to the customer, and try not to drone as if you’re bored. If you act interested, you’ll sound interested! Also, asking questions raises your voice inflection and helps you learn what the customer needs.

Know Your Stuff!
In order to assure customers that you can help them, you have to prove that you know the answers to their questions. This not only aids the customer, but it also makes helping the customer easier and quicker for you. If you don’t have the information you need, knowing where to find it is the next best way to provide effective and efficient service. You might use a reference guide, or you might refer the customer to a supervisor or specially-trained staff.

Wow Them With Personalization
A customer interaction can be personal without being overly-familiar. Calling a person by name can make him or her feel more like an individual; although, make sure you pronounce the name correctly! If your customer service is taking place over the phone, see if you can identify information about the caller that you can use in your conversation, such as the topic of a previous call. Or, try to establish common ground by commenting on something you share with the customer, like bad weather, or maybe a current event. Sometimes it’s difficult to be empathetic, but always try to imagine yourself in your customer’s place. You might even discuss similar problems that you’ve had and how you felt.

Don’t Be a Smarty Pants (You May Not Know Everything)
Although it’s good to think ahead and anticipate customers’ questions and reactions, don’t assume you know what they’re thinking or how they’ll respond. Acting on your assumptions without verifying them can lead to misunderstanding. Listen closely, allowing the customer to explain the situation or problem completely, without interruption. If they’ve made a mistake, note it, but don’t interrupt. After the customer has finished, you can politely mention any errors, and ask questions to clarify any confusion.

Become a Professional Complaint-Solver
A service recovery plan should include steps to resolve any customer concerns or problems that can be handled immediately. It should also include steps to get at the underlying cause of the problem—especially if it has happened more than once or to more than one customer.

These are the basic steps to follow:

• ACKNOWLEDGE that an error or problem occurred. This doesn’t mean that you or your company must accept responsibility for every situation or incident. What matters, though, is that your customer has someone to agree that a problem exists and that it will be taken care of.
• APOLOGIZE. This doesn’t mean you’re taking the blame, unless the error is indeed yours or the organization’s. A sincere apology might be as simple as, “I’m sorry it happened.”
• CORRECT THE PROBLEM immediately, if possible. Remember, a major element of customer satisfaction is responsiveness. If your position doesn’t allow you to take immediate corrective action, you should discuss a solution with your supervisor.
• FOLLOW UP. Tell the customer what you intend to do, then follow up, if necessary, to report your action or results and to get feedback from the customer.

It’s Not About You
(How to Handle Irritated Customers)
People often vent their wrath on the first person they speak to, no matter what the source of irritation. Telephone service representatives are especially easy targets because they’re a faceless, depersonalized voice. Although you may be offended by the language and tone, it’s important to remember that it’s not aimed at you personally. A calm, easy tone can defuse explosive emotions, especially when your professional attitude is combined with genuine concern.

When people rant and rave, it’s a good idea to let them get it all out. Listen quietly until they’re ready to talk rationally, and document everything they say and how you respond. Repeat what they’ve said, and ask questions to confirm that you understand the problem and to reassure them that you’ve been listening. Ask customers about their expectations in cases where the problem can’t be solved through standard procedures, and use that information when discussing possible solutions. If you have to say “no” to their requests (or demands), politely explain why and try to come up with an alternate solution.

Just Because You’re in Customer Service, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t SELL
A customer calls to complain and you’re expected to sell something to them? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds, because you’re in a great position to do the customer a favor. When customers complain because they’re upset about a particular product or service, they’re letting you know a need. They might not be aware of available options that can prevent similar problems in the future.

For example, someone complaining about a high phone bill might not realize that the phone company has other plans that can significantly reduce the cost of long distance calls. Rather than merely explaining the different rates for different times, you can respond to the customer’s needs by offering a better alternative to his or her current phone service.

Summary
As service becomes more depersonalized and daily tasks become more complex and technical, customers demand solutions and empathy when they make personal contact with a company. Service representatives are the ones who put a human face on increasingly inhuman organizations. They are also the crucial element that keeps a customer loyal to a service or product when competition gets tough. We all risk becoming mummies without the human touch. Customer service representatives provide that vital link between the needs of the organization and customer satisfaction.

~Excerpted from the Leader’s Guide for the CRM Learning video program, The Call of the Mummy.

Need help in this area? In today’s competitive marketplace, even just one bad experience can cause a customer to take their business to another company. The Call of the Mummy video shows employees how to identify moments of truth that they can use to retain their customers.


 

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