OTHER VOICES: Common sense communication tips
By Nancy Friedman, Special to Tire Business
ST. LOUIS (May 13, 2015) — My entire career has been focused on developing ways to help companies communicate better with their customers.
Great customer service is sought by most everyone. Businesses go out of their way to give good customer service. Some make it — some don't.
Customers go out of their way looking for companies that give great customer service. Some find it — some don't.
We have tried so very hard to explain to both sides — the customer and the business — that it's not rocket science or brain surgery. It's plain old common sense. But you and I know common sense is often not out there.
People love to vent. One of our books, Customer Service Nightmares, is proof of that. They love to report on how badly they've been handled by service personnel.
I cannot count the number of articles out there on customer service. Some are good, some not; some have new ideas; some speak the old tried and true.
I have hundreds, if not thousands, of “Back to Basics” ideas, tips, skills and techniques to share. Here, I'll present just 15 customer service tips that are good old common sense thoughts. They're short, sweet and to the point.
In no important order, I think they all should be No. 1:
- “Please” and “thank you” always have been — and always will be — powerful words. Seldom overused.
- “You're welcome” is the best replacement for “no problem.”
- “Sorry ‘bout that” is not an apology. It's a cliché. “My apologies” is much better.
- A frown is a smile upside down. Stand on your head if you must; but SMILE, darn it, SMILE!
- You cannot do two things well at once. Pay attention to the call or the customer.
- One word answers on email or in person are considered cold and rude. Three words make a sentence.
- Learn what phrases frustrate your customers. They're probably the same ones that bother you.
- When was the last time you sent flowers to someone just because?
- Drop a personal handwritten note to a client and just say “thanks for being a good client.”
- “Hey, how ‘ya doin'?” is not a great way to start up a conversation. It's not any way to start up a conversation. Period.
- Out with friends or family? Put the cell phone away. Talk with them for 30 minutes. (If you remember how.)
- Email manners? The same as phone and in person.
- The old “don't tell ‘em what you can't do; tell ‘em what you can do” applies to most, if not all, customer interactions.
- Get excited! Make sure you say something fun, nice and appropriate.
- Oh, and SMILE. That needed to be said twice. A phone smile is better than a real frown.
If you start with these tips, skills, ideas and techniques, you'll notice a big difference in how your customers respond. Yes, there are many more; didn't want to overdose on this.
Nancy Friedman's columns appear periodically in Tire Business online and in print. She is president of St. Louis-based Telephone Doctor Inc., an international customer service training company. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 314-291-1012. Her website is www.nancyfriedman.com.
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