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Latest "Customer Service Training" Posts

We can't do thatCustomer Service Training

It happens all of the time. A customer makes some kind of special request. It’s not that it is all that special. It’s just not the norm. And, the first response from the employee is, “We can’t do that.” Continue reading

You Are Not Trying To WIn An ArgumentCustomer Service Training

There is an old customer service saying that has to do with whenever someone disagrees with a customer:

You’re not trying to win an argument. You’re trying to win a customer.

You really can’t win an argument with a customer. It’s not that the customer is always right. They aren’t.  If you’ve followed my work, you know that I believe the customer is not always right. So, how can you let them always win an argument? First, don’t get in the argument to begin with. Sure, you can win the argument, but you lose the customer. But, what you can always do is be respectful. You can let the customer keep their dignity. You can agree to disagree. You can work toward a mutually agreed upon solution. In short, you win the customer, not the argument. Continue reading

Chicago Hot DogBusiness Strategy

Not all hotdogs are the same.

I love a good hotdog. Since I was a little boy, I can remember my parents taking me to the ball game and having a delicious hot dog.

I also remember some family barbecues where we had those fancy big thick kosher hot dogs. It took a while, but I eventually developed a taste for the fancier hot dogs. Continue reading

Don't Lie to a CustomerCustomer Experience

We had a reservation Friday night at a restaurant for 7:30. We arrived on time, if not a few minutes early. There were two tables that were available, right in the middle of the restaurant. However, the hostess was looking in other parts of the restaurant. I pointed at one of the open tables and asked if we could sit there. She said, “No. That table is for six people.” Maybe I can’t count, but from what I could tell, the table was set for four in the middle of restaurant that was jammed with tables. There was no way they could put six chairs around it. So, I asked her how she could put six chairs around that table. She thought for a moment and decided to change her story. She said, “Actually that table is being held on request for a party coming in with an 8:00 reservation.” Continue reading

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Ian Landsman writes about the importance of training and preparing customer service representatives to interact with customers. I agree that every employee should go through customer service training, and it should be ongoing. – Shep Hyken Continue reading

Reasons for Bad CSCustomer Service Culture

There are a number of reasons that companies fail at customer service. As I read dozens of articles each week, numerous books on the topic throughout the year, as well as conduct some of my own research, there are some very clear reasons. Sometimes it’s not what you are supposed to do, but what you should avoid doing. If you’ve been following my work, some of this may seem like a review, yet we must constantly be reminded of these reasons. Continue reading

You Can't Script SincerityCustomer-Focused

It’s not that hard to notice when you’re dealing with a customer support rep who is less than sincere. They tend to say some of the same things over and over, such as, “I can understand why you would feel that way and we are sorry for your inconvenience.” It’s as if they are reading from a script… because most of the time they are. I actually had one customer service representative repeat that phrase so many times that I asked them to not to say it anymore. Continue reading

Customer On HoldCustomer Support

It sometimes frustrates me, and I’m sure it does you as well, when you call to get customer support and you hear that recording, “Your call is very important to us. Please hold for the next available agent.” And, then they make their customers hold for a length of time that would make most people wonder if their call really was important to them. Continue reading

It's How You Say ItCustomer Experience

My buddy Gary Chervitz just came back from Las Vegas. He was excited to share a customer service story with me. He prefaced it by saying it may not sound like a big deal, but after he told me what happened, I told him that while it may not be a big deal, it was still extremely important and worth sharing. Continue reading

Customer Service TipCompany Policies

There’s no lying in customer service!

Here is a short version of the story. On a recent trip I met a number of my fellow professional speakers for dinner at the hotel we were staying at. Sometime during the dinner someone asked if all of us brought down the five dollar discount coupons that were in our registration packet. Two of us, myself included, had not. When it came time to pay our bill we asked the server if we could pay the bill, get the discount, and we promised to bring the coupons back once we all got up from the table. I jokingly said I would provide collateral, if necessary. She laughed and said it wasn’t necessary. Continue reading

This may not actually be a customer service issue, but what happened with JetBlue does fall under customer perception and it will be interesting to watch how they handle this incident.  And, it ties to training – the way JetBlue trains their people in crises situations and also a concept I’ve written about in the past, customer training.  This is where customers are trained by the company to best use their products and services.

Yesterday a JetBlue flight going to Las Vegas met with potential disaster.  However, because of some excellent training and common sense, by both the crew and the passengers, disaster was avoided. Continue reading

“This call may be recorded for quality assurance.”

We’ve all heard this phrase as we call various companies and need to talk to sales or customer service reps.  This is a great training strategy.  After the call, let the rep hear the conversation he or she had and find ways to improve.

Recently, the tables were turned.  An AOL customer decided to record his call.  He put it on the Internet for everyone to hear, sharing the experience he had trying to cancel his AOL service.  Unfortunately, the call did not go well for AOL.

After fifteen minutes of hold time, Vincent Ferrari finally got through to an AOL customer service representative (CSR).  The CSR did not make canceling the service easy, to say the least.  He continued to ask questions and debate with Vincent.  Finally out of frustration, Vincent repeated over and over, “Cancel the account.”

This seemed so outrageous that I had to confirm that this was not just another Internet “legendary story.”  Matt Lauer from NBC’s Today show interviewed Vincent and played the entire conversation.

AOL has made the statement that they listened to Vincent’s recording and read the postings on Vincent’s blog, because they wanted to learn from it and do a much better job next time. They have since let the customer service rep go.

The lesson is simple.  We need to know how we come across to our customers over the phone.  The CSR claimed he was trying to help Vincent.  Was it poor training or poor judgment?  It doesn’t matter.  It is all about the customer’s perception of the situation.

Consider recording calls for training purposes.  Another option is to just make a call yourself and find out how your employees handle problem situations.  Become your own mystery shopper.  How does your receptionist sound?  (Do you even have a receptionist?)  How did your CSR handle your “problem?”  Bottom line is that I hope you had a good experience.  If not, then it is time to go to work!

This may seem like a rant, because it is.  The other night I was out with my wife and some friends for dinner.  It was taking a very long time to get our food.  At one point we wanted to talk to our server, but she was nowhere in sight.  After ten minutes I finally saw a server from another table.  I motioned him over and he said he would be just a moment.  Several minutes later he came back.  I nicely asked him if there was something wrong in the kitchen, as it had been a long time since we had ordered.  His response…

“You’re not in my station,” and he walked away.

I went from Mr. Nice to Mr. Unhappy in one short moment.  I asked him to come back, which he did reluctantly, and requested to speak with the manager who eventually came to our table and apologized.  This reminded me of a training video I did for the restaurant industry and our extreme example of this was a guest asking the waiter what time it was and the waiter saying, “I’m sorry, you’re not in my station.”  I guess I wasn’t too far from the truth.

Was it appropriate for the server to be friendly to just the guests in his station?  No!  The server is working for the restaurant and all of their guests.

Imagine a company that gets a call from a customer and the receptionist inadvertently connects the caller to the wrong department.  Does that person hang up on the customer because “it is not my department?”  I hope not.

Dr. Ted Levett of Harvard Business School said, “The function of every business is to get and keep customers.”  My take on that is that it is also the function of every employee, no matter what their department or responsibility, to do the same.

Disney says that every employee (cast member) is to do the job they were hired to do – and always take care of the guest.

This is a lesson for everyone in any business.  In addition to any responsibility you have, you are always your company’s ambassador.  Always!

Recently I was asked to rate and compare a number of companies on their level of service. As I started the comparison, I thought a scale of 1-5 would be a good way of doing it. (One is bad and five is excellent.) Then creativity kicked in. Why rate them by numbers when you can assign a descriptive name. So, I came up with the “Five Levels of Service.”
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