Monday, June 30, 2008

Everyone Talks In Code

Writen by Graham Harris

How often have you left a meeting with a customer or your boss telling yourself he likes my ideas. Only to find later that you didn't get the sale or your boss has told everyone that you are crazy.

As we get older it seems to us that everyone talks in code. No one tells us what they really mean. Everything is hidden behind a veil of double talk.

But all is not lost. We found a copy of the code breaking manual on the web site of that well known code breaking magazine, Harpers Magazine.

It's no ordinary code. This is special. We had many discussions before we decided to reveal the secrets of the code to you.

This is the code you need to understand what us Brits are talking about.

It was found on a wall in the European Courts of Justice and released to the world, by a journalist for The Economist (who else we hear you ask) in 2004. We thought it so important to your survival in the world that we have reproduced it here.

We hope it will change the course of the war against failed communication and create the foundation for ongoing successful conversations.

What they say: I'm sure it's my fault.

What is understood: It is his fault.

What they mean: It is your fault.

What they say: I'll bear it in mind.

What is understood: He will probably do it.

What they mean: I will do nothing about it.

What they say: I was a bit disappointed that . . .

What is understood: It doesn't really matter.

What they mean: I am most upset and cross.

What they say: By the way/Incidentally . . .

What is understood: This is not very important.

What they mean: The primary purpose of our discussion is ...

What they say: I hear what you say.

What is understood: He accepts my point of view.

What they mean: I disagree and do not want to discuss it any further.

What they say: Correct me if I'm wrong.

What is understood: Tell me what you think.

What they mean: I know I'm right—please don't contradict me.

What they say: With the greatest respect . . .

What is understood: He is listening to me.

What they mean: I think you are wrong, or a fool.

What they say: That is an original point of view.

What is understood: He likes my ideas.

What they mean: You must be crazy!

What they say: Very interesting.

What is understood: He is impressed.

What they mean: I don't agree, or I don't believe you.

What they say: You must come for dinner sometime.

What is understood: I will get an invitation soon.

What they mean: Not an invitation, just being polite.

What they say: Quite good.

What is understood: Quite good.

What they mean: A bit disappointing.

This may not be a complete list terms used in the code. The sources may be limited. But, it does give an insight into the way we communicate. It gives you a starting point to assess how often, when and where do you talk in code.

Good Luck

Graham and Julie

To improve your intuition, initiative and energy levels. Please go to: It's free.

Quota Bit Morequot Principles Of Exceptional Customer Service Part 3 Of 3

Writen by Dan Ohler

Here we are again to look at some more "A Bit More" principles of exceptional customer service.

You may be thinking, "What the heck is he talking about?"

If that is the case, please read, or re-read Part 1 and Part 2 of the three-part series. You'll understand where we are going.

To affirm two major points:

1. In business, good customer service is not enough. To succeed, we need to provide exceptional customer service, plus "A Bit More."

2. A customer is anyone with whom we have a relationship, which includes a paying customer, employee, supplier, family, and neighbours.

In the last two articles, you were challenged to apply "A Bit More" dignity hints, and "A Bit More" ask and listen hints.

How is it going?

This time let's look at the "A Bit More" principles of explain and do what you said you would do.

By treating our customer with dignity, asking questions, and listening empathically to him/her, it is likely that our relationship is feeling secure.

We may need to explain our position, or intent for action in easy-to-understand words, based upon the knowledge of our customer.

Brent the electrician said, "We've had sky contact and lost a blonde. We'll need a digger, dinner plates, units, sky pins, a forty, and some partridge. We'll have to hang a can."

That's zap-chat. Brent would talk to a colleague that way, but he would not talk to a customer that way. He would invest whatever time was necessary to explain it in a way that his customer would understand.

In your area of expertise there may be acronyms and terms that are very common to you, but mean diddly-squat to me. There is a simple rule for this – don't use them with customers. Explain in terms that your listener understands. Ask more clarifying questions, and listen, to ensure that your customer understands totally.

Do you explain things completely and clearly to your customers, so they know exactly what you are talking about?

Do a survey at home. Ask your family if you explain your positions, suggestions, and requests in an understandable way. Listen to what they say. You may be surprised.

The final "A Bit More" principle is: do what you said you would do. This is integrity.

Our world is full of blame, fault, and B.S. excuses. Be different. Don't allow yourself to get sucked into that stuff.

If you say you are going to do something – do it, whatever the cost. If for some reason you are not able to follow through, immediately inform your customer, apologize, and do whatever it takes to make it right for your customer.

Before you head off to try these techniques, let's review our "A Bit More" principles of exceptional customer service.

1. Treat your customers with dignity: be respectful, kind, and helpful. Treat them as if they are the reason for your work, rather than an interruption to your work.

2. Ask questions, and clarifying questions, with an inviting body-language and tone-of-voice.

3. Listen empathically with your ears, eyes, and heart. Listen to understand your customer's words, meaning, and feelings. Invest the time to be attentive, focused, and caring.

4. Explain your position, or what you will do, in terms that your customer understands. Re-visit #2 and #3 above, ask and listen, to ensure that you have been understood completely.

5. Do what you said you would do. Take accountability for your actions. Eliminate blame, fault, and excuses. Have you heard the old cliché, "Under-promise and over-deliver"? Apply it.

I have found that it is extremely costly, in time and money, to find new customers. It is far easier, and more enjoyable to care for my current customers, and help them feel happy, healthy, and loyal.

I challenge you to apply the "A Bit More" principles of exceptional customer service. Use them with ALL of your customers. They work for me, and I guarantee they will work for you.

What do you have to gain?

Win/win success and happiness for all.

Now get "out-of-town" and have some fun!

Copyright© 2006

Dan Ohler is Thinkin' Outside The Barn!
Dan writes and speaks internationally on relationships, happiness, and change. He helps you learn the secrets to create life-long flourishing relationships and abounding success.
For FREE how-you-can-do-it-too articles, visit
To order your copy of "Thinkin' Outside The Barn And Steppin' Into Fresh B.S." visit

Sunday, June 29, 2008

11 Moments Of Truth

Writen by Sandra Schrift

These moments come when a customer or client…

1. Hears someone else praise you or your work.

2. Likes your physical presentation (appearance, voice, and smile).

3. Is touched intellectually and emotionally by what you say.

4. Recognizes you as a model of who or what the person would like to become.

5. Hears that you care.

6. Thinks he/she will be challenged and get what he/she needs from you.

7. Knows that your fee is above their budget and feels you're worth it.

8. Experiences that you are consistently excellent technically.

9. Is sure that his/her success and well-being are your priority.

10. Is able to reach you effortlessly.

11. Can count on you to treat his/her organization with unique needs.

©2004 by Sandra Schrift. All rights reserved


Publishing Guidelines: You are welcome to publish this article in its entirety, electronically, or in print free of charge, as long as you include my full signature file for ezines, and my Web site address( in hyperlink for other sites. Please send a courtesy link or email where you publish to Thank you.

About The Author

Sandra Schrift 13 year speaker bureau owner and now career coach to emerging and veteran public speakers who want to "grow" a profitable speaking business. I also work with business professionals and organizations who want to master their presentations. To find out HOW TO MAKE IT AS A PROFESSIONAL SPEAKER, go to Join my free bi-weekly Monday Morning Mindfulness ezine

If Life Gives You Lemons Pay For Them When You Can

Writen by Don Doman

Okay, I wasn't really buying lemons. I had just finished a round of golf and had stopped off at a produce stand for some fresh fruit and veggies to take home.

I made my selections and was in line checking out. When the total was rung up, I realized that I was several dollars short. Usually, I pretty much know what I have for funds in my pocket, but since I was only going to the golf course, I had only made sure I had enough to cover my fees. Buying produce had not been on my mind that morning; playing tournament golf was. Now, it looked like both images would be crushed.

When I saw that I didn't have enough money, I decided to pay by check . . . ah, but I had only gone out to golf and hadn't brought my checkbook either. The next thing was to put some items back. The manager spoke up, "Pay later." I looked up and said, "What?" He said, again, "Just stop by your next time out here, and pay later." I looked at him for a second and he said, "You're good for it, aren't you?" I said, "Yes, of course." He said, "Well, there you are." The conversation and the transaction were over. I didn't sign an I.O.U. I didn't make any other promises. I didn't have to swear that I would return. I just took my produce without paying and went home.

Did I return and pay? Yes, of course. Did I tell others about this little scenario? Yes, of course. Did the manager provide great customer service beyond the norm? Yes, well beyond what most people would expect.

What actually was the cost to the produce stand? Originally, it cost the stand just shy of ten dollars. When I paid it back, there was no other cost and the stand reaped the gratitude of a well-satisfied customer and goodwill from this story which I have told many times . . . to many people.

Of course, you always need to choose your battles, but quite often in business we find ourselves with choices like the produce manager made. I've lived by his example, when I could and I've always been rewarded.

Author Don Doman: Don is a published author of books for small business, corporate video producer, and owner of Ideas and Training (, which provides business training products. Don also owns Human Resources Radio (, which provides business training programs and previews 24-hours a day.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Whos The First Person To Greet Your Customer

Writen by Helen Robinson

I approached her sliding glass window and stood in back of a gentleman whom I assumed she was helping. After about three minutes, I realized he was waiting for the office manager and she could have acknowledged my presence. I stepped up to the window; she did not say good morning; she did not smile; she just glared at me. I started to speak; she pointed a finger at a clip board with a paper to fill out. I placed the completed sheet in front of her, perhaps expecting a thank you or a smile or at least 'have a seat; the doctor will see you soon'. I was so intrigued by her manner that I watched her interaction with the other patients. The man sitting next to me started to tell me that even though he had an appointment he had been waiting a long time. He told me he was extremely dissatisfied with the way the place was run and was starting to regret his association with this office. With a bit of humor, I told him I was watching the receptionist and asked if she had uttered a word to him. He started to laugh, and said, "Come to think of it, not a word!"

The next patient to come in was an older woman with a walker. The receptionist was not at her desk so the woman took a seat and waited for her return. She again pointed at the clip board, took the form, threw her sliding glass door closed and said nothing. The next one was the mailman, who I'm sure she sees daily. Again, not a smile or a hello; she stuck out her hand for the mail and handed him the outgoing mail.

Now my new disgruntled friend and I were sort of enjoying this and decided that maybe she was a mute….and then it happened. A good-looking UPS delivery man came in. Lo and behold, there was a big smile and a voice that was able to say good morning! That was short lived. She treated the rest of the patients in her same rude uncaring manner, a total lack of personality.

To me, the ability to positively interact with the customer, no matter what the business, is most essential. Hire your receptionist with as much thought as you would hire a sales person. Some smart person once said "If today you give a stranger one of your smiles, it might be the only sunshine he sees all day.

Helen Robinson was the VP of a large marketing firm. Before retiring she managed a Human Resource company dealing with the hiring of sales people. You will find excellent articles such as "7 Ways to Cut Loose from Old Sales Thinking" on her website at

Is Your Online Business Customerfriendly

Writen by Philippa Gamse

Customer service is increasingly seen as one of the most valuable uses for a commercial World Wide Web site.  Your Web site is available on a 24 hour, seven days a week basis.  So it is well worth exploring ways in which your customers can virtually "serve themselves," without the need for overtime staff, or lengthy voice mail procedures.

James Feldman is President of JFA, Inc., an online business offering high quality and unique gift items including automatic watch winders, Grundig shortwave pocket radios, and nitroglycerine pill fobs.  The JFA Web site has been online since 1997, and has doubled its income every year - it's now a multi-million dollar e-commerce enterprise.

Jim, who's also a professional speaker and expert on customer service, highlighted for me how the online buying experience differs from the bricks-and-mortar model.

Buying online eliminates the physical presence and personality of the salesperson from the process.  This makes the Web site copy critical in creating a one-to-one relationship with the customer or prospect.

Which echoes one of my favorite mantras:

Every page of your site should be written from the visitor's point of view, not yours.

A visitor should be able to look at your offerings, and immediately answer the questions:

"Why me?" - that is, is your Web site the right place for me?
"Why should I care?" - does this copy convince me that you can meet my needs?

It's much easier and immediate to jump from Web site to Web site than to move between real-world stores.  So the visitor has far more freedom of choice online.  Jim says that the challenge for customer service is therefore very clearly to focus on one customer, one purchase at a time.  E-customers expect great service, with little or no direct interaction.  They will tolerate some mistakes, but not many.

Jim offers five rules for effective online customer service:

 1. Be accessible.  Show very clearly on your site all the ways that your customer can contact you - including e-mail, phone and fax numbers, and your office hours.

And, if it's practical for your business, be personal - give your visitors a real person to call who has a name, as opposed to

Of course, if you're really upscale, you can include a "Call-me" button on your site.

 2. Return every e-mail or phone call in the same day, as far as reasonably possible.  This may sound simplistic, but a recent experiment with the top Fortune 100 companies showed that nearly a third failed to respond to e-mail sent through their Web site within one month!  Some of these companies still don't provide a usable e-mail address on their sites at all.

 3. Acknowledge all orders.  Send e-mail confirmations (this can be done very effectively with autoresponders), and if you're shipping actual products, give tracking numbers and expected delivery dates.

 4. Provide a clear return policy, honor it and learn from it.  This may give you more information about what's working and what's not.  Jim's products are sometimes returned with no explanation, so his staff always call the customer to establish and resolve the problem.

 5. Expect more phone calls.  Jim says:  "Customers can't read or write!"  If your Web site traffic and response rates grow (which is, of course, what we want), so will the volume of phone calls, whatever your business or industry.

Regardless of the site quality, clear returns and privacy policies, secure servers, etc., people still require human interaction.  All of my clients report talking to customers on the phone, and walking them through the Web site, where their questions are clearly answered.  Maybe these psychological barriers will lessen, but right now, they are very much there.

If you can get the customer service aspects of your business working well, there'll be a definite bottom line impact.  Jim is quite clear that his business has grown substantially through repeat business and referrals from satisfied customers.

And in contrast, we can see the impact of poor customer service and fulfillment procedures in many of the dot.coms that failed.  Jim says that people buy things online in the expectation of getting something more valuable than the actual money they spend.

Does your Web site do this??

JFA Inc. can be found at

© 2002  Philippa Gamse. All rights reserved.

Philippa Gamse, "CyberSpeakerSM", is an internationally recognized e-business strategist.  Check out her free tipsheet for 19 ideas to promote your Website: Philippa can be reached at (831) 465-0317 or

Friday, June 27, 2008

Effective Listening Skills

Writen by Dermot Fitzpatrick

Knowing customer wants and needs is a key part of providing a useful and successful business. Having effective listening skills is essential because if you aren't able to listen to your client then how can you be expected to know what they want or need?

By following the guidelines below you can develop effective listening skills that are necessary for success in the business world.

1.Use attentive body language – an attentive listener will lean forward, make eye contact and face a customer squarely. Actions speak louder than words.

2.Focus – when listening to a customer, try not to be distracted by other thoughts you may have or other visual distractions.

3.Listen more than you speak – you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you are speaking you can't hear what the customer is saying and thus you are defeating the purpose of listening.

4.Have an open mind – just because you may dislike what a customer is saying doesn't give you the right to ignore it. Try to be open to all ideas and views that a customer may be expressing, after all your view may not be the right one either.

5.Don't jump to conclusions – don't judge the customer by their race, religion or anything else, every customer deserves respect. Customers should not be interrupted by you or have to contend with you completing their sentences - it is rude and inconsiderate.

6.Show understanding – if a customer is speaking to you, make sure to acknowledge that you are hearing them, no one wants to speak to a wall. You should provide encouraging responses where needed, reflect the customer's feelings and summarize that you understand what the customer has expressed.

You can hear at 400 words a minute and with that much information flowing into your brain it can be hard to focus on the message; that's why it is important to have effective listening skills – so you can serve your customer to the best of your ability.

Dermot Fitzpatrick is the owner of Fitz Solutions Inc. a software development company that creates powerful easy to use software tools for the construction industry. These include estimating, project management and job costing. Custom software design services are also offered.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Easy Is Your Company To Do Business With

Writen by Bill Lee

This may seem like a rhetorical question, but stop and think about your business ― from your CUSTOMER's perspective, ask yourself: Is your organization truly easy to do business with?

I recently called a local auto dealer to schedule routine maintenance on my car. I spoke with the Service Manager who was very nice. He was very efficient, in fact too efficient. He hung up on me while I was in the process of asking to speak with a salesperson.

I've always liked the dealership so I called back. The Service Manager answered the phone. I told him that we'd just spoken and that he had hung up on me! I assured him I didn't think it was intentional, but that he was merely in a hurry. I also explained that I wanted to speak with a salesperson.

He apologized, thanked me and hung up – again! I called back a third time and a salesperson answered the phone (thank goodness!). After answering my questions about a new vehicle I wanted to purchase I asked to speak with the General Manager.

The GM was pleasant until I explained my concern -- that in their effort to deliver fast service they were delivering poor service. His response was a very defensive and loud, "You did it wrong! You should have called sales first and asked them to transfer you to service!!"

I did it wrong.

Now, I'm sure this car dealer thinks he's real easy to do business with. I disagree. How many of your customers would call you three times to make a single purchase? Not many, I would bet. Now, I'm questioning whether to do business with this dealership in the future. Like all customers, I have a lot of places to choose from when deciding where to spend my money. You can bet your last dollar I'm going to think twice about choosing someone who yells at me.

And I'm not going to do business with an organization that makes me jump through hoops to do business their way, either. This is especially true when "their way" is not transparent. How was I supposed to know that if service answers the phone I am supposed to ask for sales first and then ask sales to transfer me back to service?

Why couldn't I just take care of my service issues while I had service on the line?

Nor am I going to do business with someone who doesn't know how to handle customer comments. That's Business Basics 101. Organizations that have not mastered "How to Handle Customer Comments" are not worth patronizing. They take too much time, which means they're not easy. Take a look at the process your customers go through.

Where does your company make doing business more difficult than it needs to be?

How can you make it easier for the customer? Easier for you? It's worth taking the time. After all, with all things being equal, it's human nature to follow the path of least resistance. That means your customers and prospects are going to do business wherever they find it to be easiest.

Try this: Periodically call -- or ask a customer friend to call -- your place of business with a specific customer service-related issue and find out for yourself how effective your personnel are at dealing with customer service problems. If your customer friend has the equipment to tape record the call, you may wish to use the recording as a training tool at an upcoming customer service meeting.

Bill Lee is author of 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot ($21.95) and Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line ($29.95) Plus $6 S&H for the first book and $1 S&H for all additional books on the same order. See Shopping Cart at

The Importance Of Customer Satisfaction Why You Should Focus And Train Your Employees

Writen by John J. White

Many of us have heard of the current trend for businesses to become 'customer-centric', that is, to put the customer at the centre of our business in terms of our strategies, actions and processes. For most of us, old truths still hold good, such as it's easier and more profitable to sell to existing customers than to find new ones. In practice, organisations are increasingly setting themselves strategies to measure and ensure customer retention, and charging their staff to be more customer-focused and service-oriented. Many organisations now approach the 'lifetime value' of customers (calculated as the typical number of purchases per year multiplied by the average purchase value multiplied by the expected number of years of the customer relationship) and seek to increase it.

In the modern era building customer satisfaction and loyalty is a key we say to profitable business – but do many of us really know why? And what we should really be doing to achieve this goal?

A good method to establish whether our customers are satisfied with us has been to ask them. Customer feedback mechanisms such as surveys, focus groups, and even feedback forms in hotels and restaurants have become increasingly common over the last decade. Hopefully they've provided food for thought and even perhaps prompts for action or change. Too many of us though have underestimated the power of such feedback and the true reasons why customers defect. In such feedback, if customers 'score' us at 75-80% we'd be fairly pleased. Falsely so!

In the mid-nineties the Xerox Organisation undertook a large study of customer satisfaction ("Putting the Science - Profit Chain to Work", Harvard Business Review, 1994) and found that there is a relationship between customer satisfaction and customer retention. That relationship can be summarised that when customers rate their satisfaction level as very satisfied, their loyalty is very high. The relationship highlights a 'zone of affection' where customers become 'apostles' of the product or service provided by a company. However it also illustrates that even when customers rate their satisfaction at '4' or 'satisfied', there is a high degree of indifference or even defection.

What conclusions can we draw from this information? The key point here is that achieving a satisfaction level of '4' (80%) with customers is not enough – even when customers report that they are satisfied, they are indifferent and are likely to defect if provided with a reasonable alternative.

It is an old adage that a very satisfied customer will tell perhaps one or two others, whilst a dissatisfied customer will tell many others. We are only too aware that we cannot allow customers to be very dissatisfied and become a 'terrorist' to our business. But how many of us are aware that in the economics of customer retention, some increases in profit are generated from reduced operating expenses and increased purchases by customers - most real gains in profit, however, are realised when customers provide referrals.

We know that referrals only come from customers who are 'apostles'. However price premiums and referrals can only come when customers report very high levels of satisfaction - when they are in the 'affection' zone. The study showed that a 5% increase in 'apostles' can increase profits by as much as 85%. Conversely, a 5% defection in customers can reduce profits for some businesses by as much as 85%. Thus it is vital to the profitability of our businesses that we achieve very high ratings of customer satisfaction – 'satisfied' is not enough!

What differentiates between customers who defect and those who become apostles? Xerox showed that the overwhelming reason for defection was not price or product problems, it was how the customer felt they had been treated. Similarly, if we reverse the argument, then how we treat customers – not our products, services and pricing - can be a powerful catalyst to a customer becoming highly satisfied, an 'apostle', and leading us to the increase in profit we are seeking. What steps do we need to take to achieve this aim?

Firstly having a definable and measurable customer retention strategy should be intrinsic to our business. We should reinforce this by an avowed and 'lived' corporate value of 'customer focus'. We should expect and reinforce our employees to live this value – it is they who interact with the customer and who leads him or her to believe they have been treated well.

Basic customer service training is not sufficient – this often deals only with the process of customer interaction. The business needs to ensure that its employees have the skill and motivation to create and maintain customer loyalty. We need to educate employees to change their behaviour, and show them which behaviours are required - training, developing and rewarding them for doing so. The business should also set up processes that assist employees with building and measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty, such as customer care mechanisms, feedback tools and communications devices.

Where many businesses fail in their attempt to build customer loyalty, having set a strategy in place and processes in motion, is in not ensuring that their employees, through their skills, motivation and knowledge, treat customers in a superb manner, a manner that ensures customers become 'apostles'. Make sure this customer satisfaction initiative happens for your business.

John White is a Director of IntegrateHR Limited which has strategies and services to enable clients to undertake customer satisfaction initiatives.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Copay Is A Winwinwin

Writen by Ron Kaufman

My first book, UP Your Service!, hit #1 on the national bestseller list within three weeks of release.

Thousands of copies have been purchased by individuals and companies around the world

Where are all these books going!?

An increasing number are being purchased by organizations for each member of their staff. A bank in Dubai bought 650 copies. A government ministry in Hong Kong bought 500 copies for all frontline and back-office staff. The Young Entrepreneurs Organization ordered 450 copies for regional conference programs. An infrastructure consulting firm purchased 700 copies for every architect, draftsman, clerk and engineer. The Singapore Police Force purchased 1,200 books – one for every officer on the street.

Some organizations purchase the books outright and give them to the staff as a gift or take-home training aid. But others have adopted a unique approach of 'co-payment' – and the results have been astounding.

Instead of buying the books outright for their staff, these organizations pay only a portion of the price, with the balance to be paid by the staff themselves if they wish to own a copy.

The usual price is $25, discounted to $15 for orders over 100 copies. Most companies co-pay just $5, leaving the staff to pay twice that amount – $10 per book. To the staff it appears that $15 has been paid on their behalf.

What's the net result? Almost every staff member chooses to buy a book. Some get more than one copy for their spouse, friends and family members. Because staff members make a personal cash investment, they really do own and then study the book.

What's the payoff for the company? They pay only $5 per book, but their staff get a $25 training tool. It's a win–win–win situation. (The company wins, the staff win, and the author – that's me – also wins!)

The staff who buy the book tell me it's not just the bargain price that motivates their action. It's also the commitment their company shows by making the books affordable.

Companies tell me it's not just the special discount they appreciate, but the fact that staff members make a real commitment to read and learn and grow.

Key Learning Points

The co-pay option can be used with books, courses, meals, transportation, Internet access, home computers, medical care, accommodation, entertainment and more.

Action Steps

What does your organization care about? What do you want your people to believe and be committed to? Where can you use a co-pay option so that everyone shares an investment and an incentive to improve?

Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator and motivator for partnerships and quality customer service. He is author of the bestselling "UP Your Service!" and founder of "UP Your Service College". Visit for more such Customer Service articles, subscribe to his Newsletter, or to buy his bestselling Books, Videos, Audio CDs on Customer Service from his secure Online Store. You can also watch Ron live or listen to him at

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Customer Service Keeps Bringing Them Back

Writen by Lance Winslow

You can spend thousands of dollars on advertising, direct mail, yellow pages and you name it, but it is simply amazing how much mileage you can get out of good customer service. You will have referrals, repeat customers and an excellent standing in the community. More importantly you can save thousands on your advertising bills.

Of course real customer service is not free. You must train your employees on how you do things, you must go out of your way to provide such service and chances are you will indeed pay more for pleasant and helpful employees to keep them. But there is no doubt that good customer service will bring them back over and over again to shop with you over your competitors.

What so many companies do not realize is that is cheaper to invest in a good customer service consultant then it is to spend lots of money on advertising. Of course the combination would be truly incredible and once you had your customer base you would have to advertise a lot less.

Otherwise your parking lot would be so full you could not get everybody in and out. Customer service keeps bringing them back over and over again in the sooner you discover that the better your business will do over time. Please consider all this in 2006.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

Monday, June 23, 2008

Listen To Suggestions

Writen by Paul Jerard

If you are up to your ears in a stressful situation, it becomes difficult to think clearly. Sometimes, it is best to walk away from a problem, and think about it, rather than try to solve it with an instant solution.

My grandfather used to say: "Even the court jester can teach us something useful." This saying goes much deeper in meaning and applies to many things - from a Yoga class, to not taking life too seriously, and to the unfortunate way customer feedback is commonly handled by the business world.

As a customer of any service or product - how do you feel when your Email is ignored, your voice mail message is never answered, and you don't get any feedback or concern, at all, from customer service? We all feel the same – nobody likes to be ignored. The shame of all this is that customer service is getting worse on a global scale.

Knowing this, we should take the time to listen when someone has taken the time to give us a constructive suggestion. When you do acknowledge a suggestion and consider, implement, or try it, you could possibly create a bond for life.

Here is a little story about how listening can pay off. Years ago, I was working at a health club and had a dilemma. I had a personal training client with a weight control problem, but I couldn't figure out what the problem was. She was exercising, eating the right things, following a new healthy diet, taking Yoga classes, and had made a 30 day turn around in lifestyle, with no results to measure.

I brainstormed with the health club owner with no real success, but we were interrupted by someone who said that I should have my client log everything she eats and drinks.

Well, I took the suggestion and ran with it. I discovered my client was drinking three Cokes a day. She didn't equate Coke with sugar grams, and didn't think it was important enough to mention.

After that, she lost five pounds a month, on average, for the next twelve months. That's an optimum 60 pound weight loss in a year. This particular client kept the weight off.

The person who made that suggestion is still a dear friend to this day. Needless to say, I have every personal training client log their meals, and drinks - just to be certain.

In summary, it doesn't take a "rocket scientist" to listen to customer feedback, or a colleague's suggestions; but all of us, no matter how important we think we are, must be willing to sit back and listen to constructive advice. This will be the difference between managers of businesses that flourish and those that fail in the twenty-first century.

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of martial arts, with multiple Black Belts, four martial arts teaching credentials, and was recently inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He teaches Yoga, martial arts, and fitness to children, adults, and seniors in the greater Providence area. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher.

One Critical Question To Ask Yourself Every Day

Writen by Darcie Harris

What happened to the old saying, the customer is always right? I'll bet every one of you reading this article has a "customer service nightmare" story to tell. My most recent nightmare experience took place recently when my business partner and I went in to a wireless phone store to purchase two new pda wireless phones. We told the young man who greeted us that we had only one question: is this phone compatible with the database software we intend to purchase? "I don't know," he said, "Most customers do the research on this before they come in." We politely requested that if he didn't know, he find the answer. He told us we could call the company ourselves, that he didn't have time to be put on hold with them. As you can imagine, we left without spending what we felt was a significant sum of money. And of course we've told at least 10 other people about the disappointing service at that particular store.

So here's a question to ask yourself every day: how does our business need to look and act in the way the customer needs it to look and act? What would happen if you thought through and walked through every step of the process from your customer's point of view?

Here are a few thought-provoking questions for you and your employees to consider:

- What does our customer need, not just in terms of our product – what kind of experience does our customer need?

- What is it like to be our prospective customer?

- What do our customers see, read or hear about us?

- What are other customers saying about us?

- What experience our customers have when they call our business? (By the way, women hate layers of voice mail, they want a real person. And there's nothing worse than reaching the voice mail system that asks you to enter "the first four letter of the person's name." What if you don't know the name of the person you need to speak with?)

- What if our customers' first experience with us is electronic, through our website or email? What impression do we make?

- What is our customers' first meeting with us like? Are they comfortable, are they made to feel welcome?

- Do we ask questions to try to understand their needs before trying to sell them something?

- Are we asking about their expectations or making assumptions about what they want?

- What is our process for giving them a proposal?

- How long will they wait for an estimate?

- Will the project be ready on time, as promised, and at or under budget?

- Is it easy, relaxed, and efficient to do business with us?

- Is it frustrating? Where are the points of irritation?

- What does our customer experience once they become a customer?

- Is it predictable, reliable, rewarding, convenient, and consistent?

- What is not just adequate but over the top spectacular? How does that look and feel to our customers?

I invite you to play this game in your business…pretend you're a customer. Get your employees, friends and customers involved. See what your customers experience from their eyes. Or better yet, survey your customers and ask them what it's like.

And ask yourself this one critical question every day…how does our business need to look and act in the way our customers need it to look and act?

Let me know what you discover!

© Copyright 2005, Darcie Harris

Darcie Harris is co-founder of EWF International®, an Oklahoma based firm providing peer advisory groups for women business owners and executives. EWF International® franchises are available throughout the Southwest. View this article and others at

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Customer Service The Truth About Lifelong Loyal Customers

Writen by Kenneth Little

Your customer service policy can attract loyal customers who remain for a lifetime. Here is a policy tried and tested for more than 25 years. The truth is customers want three things.

Employ Nice People

The head of Nordstrums once said you can train nice people to be good sales assistants but you cant train good sales assistants to be nice. Nice people are born not trained to be so. Getting customers who are loyal for life begins with hiring nice staff. You should try hiring baby boomers. They have great customer service skills.

Go The Extra Mile

With all customers work extra hard to win them as a "Lifetimer" by giving them extra service wherever possible. Stay commited to overdelivering both product and service. The smallest things make the biggest impact.

Stay Connected to Them and Keep Them Happy

The best time to put your customer service policy to work is when customers complain. See the complaint process as way to prove two things. Firstly, you'll do what it takes to change their complaint to a compliment. Second, you want to prove to them that they're special and highly valued customers. Through this process make sure to stay connected. By phone and especially in person.

You now have a workable customer service policy. You will get customers who return loyally for a lifetime by centering your policy on giving them what they want, Nice People on your sales team, The Extra Mile of service, and for you to Keep Them Happy.

Copyright 2005 Kenneth Little

Kenneth Little is a writer, teacher, public speaker and the publisher of a re-released classic - in a revealing ebook- that will show you how to get the best of health and wealth out of all your future years.

True success will be yours no matter what your age. Amazing "How I Became Young at Sixty" brings renewed strength to your body, hope to your mind and increased prosperity to your lifestyle==>

Customer As Emperor

Writen by Dave Free

From Japan comes the tradition of oshibori. Oshibori is the Japanese word for the rolled up hot towel you receive after eating at an authentic Japanese restaurant or at the conclusion of an international flight. If you have never experienced a hot towel after a long flight, it is as close as you can get to a refreshing shower in the comfort of your seat with all your clothes on. What does it have to do with growing your business? It's remarkable.

As noted, you might expect a hot towel in a Japanese restaurant or on a flight but how about in the dentist chair just after the hygienist has stretched your mouth into unnatural shapes to chisel that last piece of plaque from your teeth? Nice and warm, with the light sent of lemon--that would be remarkable wouldn't it? How might that change what you tell your friends about your trip to the dentist? Simple thing. Only costs a few cents. But it could lead to a number of referrals. What would your customers tell their friends if you gave them a hot towel?

According to Jason Stark of White Towel Services, the majority of his customers are dentists. Dentists that understand that filling your cavity is a commodity--any one of a thousand dentists could it. But having a remarkable experience in their office-- that is something that nobody can compete with.

So what do your customers remember about your business? Do they experience something remarkable enough to tell their friends about? For some businesses it might be their concept. For example, Entrees Made Easy provides the ingredients and recipes for several meals to its customers making it easy and quick for them to create great tasting home cooked meals. The concept is new, innovative, and needed in today's hectic world. Those that try it can't wait to tell their friends.

Thankfully, an innovative new concept isn't the only way to be remarkable. The sad fact is that good service is so rare, any company that does provide it is remarkable. I read just yesterday in a column by John DiJulius about Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (27 restaurants in 7 states). What I read wasn't about their food or their concept (though with further research I learned both are amazing). What I read about was their customer service. They seem to realize that indeed the customer is the emperor and the emperor doesn't like to be told "no." Their promise: "The answer's what's the question?" Given their growth, I think their customers remember that kind of service and find it remarkable enough to tell their friends.

Still wondering what is remarkable about your business? Here is a suggestion: ask your customers. Ask them if they would recommend you to a friend and if so why? Then listen carefully.

How ever you figure it out, do it quickly. Being remarkable is not just a good idea-- it is absolutely required for any business to both survive and grow.

Dave Free is president of Zeryn, makers of PromoterZ(tm) (, a customer care system for small business growth. Mr. Free received an MBA from BYU and has worked as an Intel executive domestically and internationally, at a Washington think tank, and entrepreneur. You can read more of Mr. Free's commentary in his Seeds of Growth blog at:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Customer Service Problemshelp Employees Look At Customer Complaints From The Customers View

Writen by Alan Boyer

Most employees, business owners and managers are so close to the problems that they frequently miss what's right in front of their eyes. As a customer service consultant and trainer I frequently get to come in to help pick up the pieces and get to see the causes behind the scenes.

What I see the most frequently is the technical staff, those that have created the products or services and understand it so thoroughly that they can't understand why a customer doesn't see what they see. The usual result is that the employees say "Stupid customer" when they should be asking why the customer is even asking for help.

Let's look at an example:

    I was recently working with a client who said he was getting frequent calls from customers saying they couldn't download files from the website. Every time he looked into it the employees assured him that everything was working. When I looked at the emails there were 4 or 5 that basically said "Can't download file xxxxx.pdf". [More than one would indicate there is likely a real problem, or an misunderstanding on how to do it.]

    The employee checked the download. It worked for him so his response back to the customer was "It works here." A CYA answer, internally focused. Not a hint of getting what the customer wanted, the files.

    After sending several emails one of those customers sent an email to the president asking why they had not gotten the problem resolved. The president looked into it, got an assurance from the employee that there was nothing wrong and that this was one of the really stupid customers that didn't know how to download. So, the president let it drop based on the employee's assurances.

    Let's analyze what just happened.

  • Customer's View

      A customer said he couldn't download files from the website. Do you see that the customer wanted the files he had tried to download, and he had even offered assistance. But he got no help at all to get what he wanted...the files.

  • Company View

      The website had been set up to deliver a series of sales steps to customers starting with the free PDF files they were trying to download. If the customer doesn't get the files, I'd say 98% of the customers went away in the first 3 seconds. That basically says that these 4-5 customers represented about 250 potential prospects, with 245 of them going away. The employee should be trying to find out why a customer was having the problem instead of "Works here" which only aggravated the customer.

There are two clear issues missed here:

  • Not meeting the customer's needs (getting the files). Help your employees to always look at it from the customer's perspective before they respond. Always deliver what the customer was looking for before taking any other step. If you don't know what the customer wants, ask, and then deliver.

  • Not resolving the problem. Even though it had been checked by an employee he was so used to push this before pushing that while standing on the left foot that he wouldn't recognize a problem that was caused by someone standing on the right foot while pushing the button. And, believe me, if 4-5 let you know there are others out there having problems and you'll never know it.

    When I checked the website statistics, the website had thousands of viewers on that page, and no one had yet downloaded a single file on that page. Does that say something?

    And, of course not one person had ever called to buy that product from the website.

    What would happen if we looked at this from the customer's viewpoint?

      First, the customer had actually tried to download something from the website that HE WANTED. But the response he got appeared as "I checked my work at this end, I've done my CYA and I'm covered." Not a thing mentioned about the customer's need.

      A better answer from the employee might have been,

        "Thanks for notifying us of a potential problem. I've attached copies of the files you requested in the email. [Gave the customer what he wanted]. Sorry you were having trouble. We're looking into it. If we called you would you help us understand why you were having trouble downloading so we could prevent the problem for other valued customers? You would be a big help to us. I'll even send you a free xvxvxvxv for your troubles. Thanks!"

    Do you see how different that is. First it meets the customers needs, and 2nd it attempts to resolve the customer's problem, and the company's.

    Alan Boyer
    President/CEO of The Leader's Perspective
    Customer Service Training that really works.

    Go to to sign up for our weekly Hints and Tips.

  • Helping People and Companies Worldwide Reach Further Than They Ever Thought Possible....FASTER

  • Friday, June 20, 2008

    Investing In Your Own Customers A Neglected Skill

    Writen by Mark Ramirez

    Most businesses spent time attracting customers to a product or service, trying to win their trust and then ending the whole process with a sale. That tactic seems obvious to most people. What often is neglected is the post-sale follow up with customers, particularly when it comes to online businesses. We should look at the time after a sale as an opportunity not only to improve our products but also to establish long-lasting relationships with our customers.

    It takes much more effort to win a new customer than to maintain a relationship with an existing customer. But maintaining current customer relationships is just as critical and I'd even dare to say, more important than gaining new customers. What can we do to keep our established customers feel appreciated? You need to follow up with your customers.

    Following up may be as simple as writing an email or giving a phone call to a customer a few weeks after a sale. Does this take time? It sure does. Is it worth it? Absolutely! Not only does this allow you to get good feedback from customers in order to improve your products and services, but also it establishes a more solid, long-lasting relationship that goes beyond the point-of-sale.

    Most people will be surprised that you would be willing to talk with them and will be touched by the personal attention they receive. People don't like being ignored and definitely like being heard. There are many businesses that are ignoring their customers and, as a result, losing them.

    Your current customers are the heart and core of your business. These customers provide return business and also provide the essential word-of-mouth promotion that no clever advertisement or marketing scheme will ever out-perform. Treat your customers like your own family. Go out of your way to communicate with them. If you neglect them, they will go elsewhere.

    Mark Ramirez is CEO and co-founder of Screaming Bee LLC, a leading provider of voice software and solutions for online games and messenger applications. For more information visit:

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Customer Service And The Human Experience

    Writen by Rosanne Dausilio

    Historically, customer service was delivered over the phone or in person. Customers didn't have many choices, and switching to competitors was cumbersome. Today, these methods are but two of the many possible touch points of entry for any given interaction. With all the options the Internet brings, competition is literally a click away. If, as has been reported, 65% of your business comes from current customers, then in order to stay in business, you best focus on winning the satisfaction and loyalty of those customers.

    With continued attention on customer service, customer retention, and lifetime value of the customer, it is no surprise that contact center operations continue to increase in importance as the primary hub of a customer's experience. The contact center is still the most common way that customers get in touch with businesses. In fact, Gartner reports 92% of all contact is through the center.

    While much attention has been focused on the technology and benefits of providing multiple channels for customer contact, little consideration has been directed to handling the human part of the equation—training Customer and Technical Service Representatives to field more than just telephone communications. With the explosion of e-commerce, the need to reinforce keeping the human element in the equation is paramount. Certainly now more than ever before in history, customer-centric service is a necessity.

    Twenty five years from now customers will still be human beings, still be driven by desires and needs. Virtual environments do not create virtual customers. Except for the simplest transactions, some customers still need to be connected with and nurtured by a live person. has learned this. They employ hundreds of traditional customer service representatives using phone lines to help customers with questions that cannot be dealt with online.

    With the ability to handle simple transactions available by using sophisticated, self-service technology, customer calls, faxes, and/or e-mails are more complex, more complicated, sometime even escalated, heightening stress levels.

    At the same time, research has identified the Customer Service and Technical Representative as one of the ten most stressful jobs in America today, with job stress costing employers an estimated $300+ billion yearly in absenteeism, lowered productivity, rising health insurance costs and other medical expenses (up from $200 + billion just ten years ago.)

    A recent NIOSH study reported that 50% of employees view job stress as a major problem in their lives--double from a decade ago.

    Lines of demarcation have blurred and change is rampant in today's center. Why? Because of our cell phones, voice mail, faxback, PDA's, and e-mail. We are now more available and accessible than ever before. The lines are no longer clear as to where our jobs or projects begin and end—they can follow us home again and again.

    In today's competitive marketplace there is little difference between products and services. What makes the difference--what distinguishes one company from another--is its relationship with the customer. Who has the awesome responsibility for representing themselves, their companies, perhaps their industry in general? Front line representatives.

    The ability of a company to provide human-to-human connections--back and forth live communication--continues to be critically important. The fact is voice is the most natural and powerful human interface, real time or otherwise. That isn't going to change any time soon. To the customer, people are inseparable from the services they provide. Actually, the person on the other end of the phone is the company. It is no wonder, then, that companies with superior people management, invest heavily in training and retraining, reinforcing the human element.

    Yet customers still leave. The latest statistics on why are:

    • 45% because of poor service

    • 20% because of lack of attention.

    This means that 65% of your customers leave because of something your front line is, or is not, doing.

    • 15% for a better product

    • 15% for a cheaper product and

    • 5% other

    This is the good and the bad news. It's bad news because that's a high percentage. On the other hand, it's good news because there is something you can do about it—it resides on the human side.

    It is agreed that people, process, and 'state of the art' technology are what make companies work. For me, the people process is most important. After all, it's the people who truly make the difference.

    Never lose sight of the fact that we are human beings, not merely 'human doings.' The fact is 70% to 90% of what happens with customers is driven by human nature, having nothing to do with technology. Technology is meant to enable human endeavors, not to disable them.

    Extraordinary service or lack thereof, separates the good from the great companies. As more and more organizations are turning to the contact center as a strategic player in the competitive landscape, it is in the throes of re-inventing itself to step up to the plate and become the heart of a company's customer facing operations.

    Empathetic Responsiveness

    The ability to put yourself in another person's shoes and see their point of view—not agree with them, not make them right and your company wrong—but hear what they are saying. After all, basic needs of all of us are to be heard and treated with dignity and respect.

    I think of a call as an ABC process. 'A' represents the customer presenting their question, request, complaint or problem. 'C' is the ultimate resolution. Most times 'B' is either skipped or left out—because of metrics, calls in queue, or simply because you know the answer before the customer is even finished speaking. 'B' is where the agent acknowledges what they hear—be it upset, anger, frustration, or fear. Or, a simple 'thank you for taking the time to call and bring this to our attention.'

    After all, if a customer calls in to complain, you have the opportunity/challenge to turn them around. If they don't call, and only complain to other people, you have no opportunity. Does going through 'B' take longer? Not at all. It allows you to move the customer to a more productive interaction and close the call. I've heard many customers repeat their opening paragraph (A) over and over, while at the same time the agent is trying to get them to resolution (C). Red alert! Red alert! Acknowledge what is behind the words and you will move them quickly to 'C.' I believe you can't go from A to C without going through B. If all customers wanted just the facts (and some do), they could ascertain the information online. Most customers (people) want the human interaction, someone to hear them, someone to care. A simple, "I'm so sorry that was your experience. My name is Rosanne and I'm going to do my best to help you right here and now."

    Self Service

    When asked the question in a recent study, "What is the biggest barrier your company encounters to self-service effectiveness?" only 14% of the customers replied they don't know about it.' This means that the 86% who do know about it and attempt to use it (1) find it too hard to navigate, (2) can't find the answers, and/or (3) don't trust the system or the answers they do find.

    Research shows that customers prefer to deal with companies who are the most consistently accessible. When customers experience a level of service from email and chat support, for instance, that equals or exceeds voice support, then and only then will they gladly migrate to those channels to resolve their problems and inquiries.

    To increase customers' satisfaction, be sure to:

    1) Phone: Have a 'zero out' option on your system

    2) Website: Have your phone number or a button to speak with a human

    3) E-mail: Rephrase the issue in the opening paragraph. Purchasing Process

    In an interview with Delia Passi Smalter, the former publisher of Working Woman and Working Mother magazines, we found very interesting statistics regarding female demographics (Incentive Magazine, 2003). It seems that women are making over 85% of consumer purchases and influencing more than 95% of total goods and services. Smalter distinguishes the purchasing process women and men go through. The biggest one, she says, is that women need to feel more of a connection to the TSR; they need to trust the corporation and the brand. Price becomes secondary. Women take in a lot of information, including recommendations from friends and family, company and brand reputation, feelings about her contact person, and how the brand will impact her life. Not so for men. Men take a systematic approach, allowing outside influence to some degree, but mostly they are focused on price.

    One of the most influential documents in the world, the U.S. Constitution, begins with "We, the people..." Yes, 'we the people' are what makes the difference.

    ROSANNE D'AUSILIO, Ph.D., an industrial psychologist, and President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in profitable call center operations in human performance management. Over the last 20 years, she has provided needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills trainings. Also offered is agent and facilitator university certification through Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality.

    Known in the industry as 'the practical champion of the human,' the 4th edition of her best selling book, "Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub," is hot off the press and available at, Purdue University Press,, or your local bookstore. Her second book, Customer Service and the Human Experience (co-authored with Dr. Jon Anton), is available at

    Rosanne is also a Certified Call Center Benchmarking Auditor through Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality. She sits on the Editorial Advisory Panel and is a columnist for Call Center.

    Customer Service For Mobile Tool Sales People

    Writen by Lance Winslow

    Perhaps you have seen the Matco or Snap-On Tool Guys out there peddling their tools to local mechanics in your community. Indeed they have to be good at sales, but more importantly they must be good at customer service too. They have to work with their customers and they must also be careful to get paid, as these independent business guys are generally independent contractors or franchisees and they are responsible for that outlay. Good customer service means more sales, referrals and getting paid first and that equates to their bottom line and most importantly their cash flow too.

    How can you provide better customer service for a mobile tool business? Well, you can make sure that you show up every single week at the exact same time and if you are not going to make it you need to call and let everybody know or a week ahead of time let everybody know that you will be on vacation for one week.

    Customer service also starts with a friendly smile and a great attitude with good displacement. The one-liner or joke of the day does not hurt either. Good customer service comes from asking questions and understanding the needs and desires of your customers and making sure you can fulfill those desires to the best of your ability with the products that your company has to offer. Please consider this in 2006.

    "Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    What Every Manager Should Know About How To Learn From The Complaints Of Customers And Employees

    Writen by Etienne Gibbs

    Listening to complaints, whether they're reasonable or not, is a part of every manager's job. Sometimes complaints can be overwhelming. However, when we take them in stride with an open mind, we can learn much from our employees' and customers' feelings about the workplace. After all, a complaint is nothing more that a person telling you that his (or her) needs have not been met. As dissatisfied customers, they are giving us a second chance to correct something that should have been done properly the first time around. (In some cases the customer might happen to be your employee.)

    If you listen to them patiently and attentively, their complaints will alert you to a real or potential problem, or tell you of a better way to handle a situation.

    We are not use, however, to coping with complaints. We let our emotions rule our thinking usually. Consequently, we let complaints wear us out because we take on the complaint as a personal attack on us. It is not!

    The next time you are faced with an irate employee, here are some steps to consider:

    * Try doing something new and different.

    * Listen attentively, patiently, and with good nature.

    * Even if the complaint seems unreasonable, don't tell him so. Keep it to yourself.

    * Because nobody wants to be accused of being unreasonable, especially if it's true, admit that he might be right. (The implication is that you may be wrong.)

    * Invite him to offer you in his own words a solution to his complaint. Say, for example, "If you were in my shoes, what would you do to correct the situation?" (Be careful not to call his complaint or situation a problem, because doing so might aggravate him to the point that he loses his ability to think and express himself clearly.)

    * Listen carefully and actively. Read his body language.

    * Use feedback questions or statements to let him know that you're trying to understand and meet his needs. (Begin responses with statements like, "If I understand you correctly, ...")

    When you take the time to listen to your complaining customers or employee, you'll hear what he's telling you. Then you'll be in a better position to turn him into a satisfied customer.

    Remember: When you maximize your potential, everyone wins. When you don't, we all lose.

    © Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW

    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in ezines, newsletters, and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Although advance permission is not required, please notify us at when you use this article.

    Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW, Management Consultant and Trainer, conducts seminars, lectures, and writes articles on his theme: ... helping you maximize your potential. He offers management, marketing, and parenting resources at his Maximizing Your Potential blog.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    How To Flop At Customer Service 101

    Writen by Glory Borgeson

    Class, today we will review the syllabus for this freshman level class, "How to Flop at Customer Service 101." For today's overview, you need to understand that you are a busy person and your customer is going to have to get used to it.

    This class is not a full semester class. It is designed as an abbreviated class because you can quickly learn how to be a flop.

    Here are the topics we will cover in this class:

    "Over-Promise, Under-Deliver"

    If you sell a product, tell the customer that the product they ordered will come in on a certain date (because, deep down, you still want to please them), even though you know it is likely the product will arrive 3 days after that. You want to get the customer's hopes up.

    If you sell a service, make a promise that you will do three more tasks than you actually end up doing. This sets a great expectation on the part of the customer for the work you're going to do. It is actually fun to see them come crashing down when your work is less than they expected.

    Use Vague Communications

    Leave it up to your customer to contact you to confirm appointments and deliveries. Never do this for them. You need to keep them guessing. You have better things to do, right?

    Be as technical as possible when communicating with your customer. Use terms and phrases to confuse them. Never educate them! Keep them in the dark as much as possible. (Why would you want an educated customer? They might start asking you really good questions.)

    Don't return phone calls, faxes, or e-mails in a timely manner (if at all). You don't have time for all of these communications.

    If you must communicate, do all of your most important communications by telephone, not by e-mail or fax, so that there is no paper trail that others can follow. You don't want to be held to your word.

    Do As I Say, Not As I Do

    Whatever you tell your customer you are going to do, do the opposite (or at least do something different!). This is a great way to keep them on their toes. It sharpens the customer's skills at honing in on their own confusion. For example, if you tell them the product or service they are buying from you will cost $100, make certain the actual invoice is for at least $150.

    If They Don't Have Pain, They Won't Have Gain

    If your customers experience pain when they do business with you, they will grow as customers and be better for it.

    When athletes train, they feel pain; but that is the only way they gain! Athletes gain more muscle, more coordination, more skill, and more strength for their sport, and they get there by experiencing pain through their training.

    Just as athletes experience pain that leads to growth and greater strength, your customers need to experience pain when doing business with you in order to grow as individual customers.

    See? You're actually doing your customers a favor by setting up painful situations for them.

    In Conclusion

    During this class you will learn to make it as difficult as possible for your customer to do business with you: Be unavailable, be confusing, be late, don't confirm, don't follow-up, and create pain. You're a busy person with a full schedule. You don't have extra time on your hands.

    In the subsequent classes, we will study each of these areas more in-depth. Then you, too, will be a flop at customer service.


    All right, enough! All kidding aside, each of these situations happened to me within one week with several businesses. Now, go out there and do the opposite of what you just read!

    © 2005 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

    Glory Borgeson is a business coach and consultant, and the president of Borgeson Consulting, Inc. She specializes in helping small business owners (of 500 employees or less) to increase their Entrepreneurial IQ, which leads to increased profit and decreased stress. Whether an entrepreneur is at the top of his game like any top athletes you can think of today, or a rookie just starting his business, Glory works with the entire spectrum of entrepreneur. Top athletes have a coach; why not you?

    Click here for Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

    This article was originally published in The Business Express, Borgeson's free monthly ezine. You may subscribe by clicking here:


    Monday, June 16, 2008

    Customer Service Surveys And The Box Checked Other

    Writen by Lance Winslow

    For those of us who have been asked by our vendors to fill out customer surveys, we know all too well that there always is an extra box called; Other. So often, we enjoy checking the box other because the categories do not fit us, you might be interested to find the other is usually the most checked box.

    You know why this is? Because the people who make the surveys don't make them very well or know their customer very well either. You would think that companies would know their customer better, but maybe that's why they are taking surveys to get to know us better?

    Of course after the word; other, is a line to fill in with what; Other means to you. And if you are like me, you like to put something really cool in there that you think they've never heard of. So you put something totally bizarre, at least I always do. Humor me, let me explain.

    Well it turns out a lot of people do this and therefore the surveys come out all wacky, which I suppose makes them fun to read for the person doing the survey statistics. Still some folks start writing in all the margins and adding things that were not asked. They really get into it. That is good.

    Unfortunately if you are paying someone else to do the statistics for the survey all those comments inside the margins are the ones you really want. Because those are the comments of the people who cared enough to fill out the form and are serious enough to write what they really think.

    Try this some time; ask for all the questionnaires back and disregard the statistical information for a moment and read what people actually wrote on those surveys and then stop and think about it and ask yourself what you think the statistics will be in advance.

    You know it is amazing how well you can figure this out by just reading what was in the margins from a few survey cards about how people will answer the questions. Remember if you don't ask the right questions on your customer service surveys, you will not get the right answer. Please consider this in 2006.

    "Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    What Does The Consumer Want

    Writen by Tyler Benson

    No matter who is your consumer? Anyway he is the highest authority for you, whose opinion is a law for you. One of the best definitions of "a consumer" belongs to Mahatma Gandi, many leading companies owe their primacy to these simple postulates: Consumer is the main person in your office. He does not depend on you. All of us depend on him. He is no hindrance for our work. He is the target of our work. He is a part of our work. We don't do him a favor serving him. He does us a favor giving us such an opportunity. The trite phrase "Client is always right" – this is the credo of any marketing – oriented company aimed at success. It can't be otherwise. As a company with long –term goals of development you should know what your customer wants. Without it you will hardly manage to build a good service for your clients. So, what are the clients' present expectations?

    They want to feel secure and relaxed. In everything. A student purchasing a custom law essay from online writing service, wants to be sure that he will get a good mark, the housewife expects the house appliances serve even to her grandchildren. And if something goes wrong your company should have a fast way of eliminating this problem. Customers are very grateful to those who help them in their routine problems (both new and old) they can't cope with on their own. A customer often has no desire to go deep into the details of some device. He needs someone competent to explain him how it works and what it is for. Many companies are expanding and flourishing because they appear to be convenient for their clients. For example on- line custom term paper writing services assist students in their busy academic career by building an efficient customer support service and providing them with quality writing. They make the students' life easier. Customers want personal attention and contact with the company representatives.

    They want quality. It is natural. Besides, they wish to have an opportunity to have a personal control and estimate the level of this quality. Customers wish to have a chance of returning items they are not satisfied with. It means that if a person finds some fault with the product he has a right to demand a refund and you are to give him money back. Clients expect to have a direct access to the company with no intermediaries involved. Consumer wants you to bring them joy and pleasure. They expect to meet easy – going people in your company.

    That is why they can't stand long and complicated instructions what they have to do when something goes wrong. They anticipate your customer support service is ready to come and fix everything all right. Customer wants to live in the atmosphere of predictability regarding your company. That is why McDonalds is so popular: you just know what you will be offered when you come here. The following are the steps of your company image formation and retaining of the customers: Do everything properly from the first time. You should satisfy your client with his first purchase of your product. Regard your customer expenses as long term and efficient investment not as additional and burdensome losses.

    You should aim at expanding the circle of your clients, search for improvement (in the product, service) to attract new clients or m turn them into regular. You should aspire to surpass the client's expectations. You should build up reliable and close contact with your customers. Never argue with a client, look for alternative solution beneficial for both. You main priority should be finding your regular client who trusts your company and prefers your brand to all the rest.

    Tyler Benson is a senior writer of - Essay Writing service. He is working with this custom term paper writing service writing company for more than five years. It will cover all the details of the academic writing process and explaining the peculiarities of writing every type of essay (e.g. law essay).

    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    Crm Its Relevance

    Writen by Solomon Prabakar

    In today's demanding economy, the first line of any business during economic uncertainty is to get closer to the customer. Customers often want information along with a quote or invoice on the spot. With lack of information, the customers do not fix loyalty to a particular product or service and tend to depend on impulse decision. The companies are no exception to this. In the process "hot prospects" turn ice cold. Speed of information flow and speed of converting information into prospect are vital factors for survival. So access to data is a must. E-business has revolutionized the way for business to interact with customers.

    What is CRM?

    Business's effort to get closer to a customer is considered Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is a concept that combines management thought and business practices. CRM is about developing, implementing business strategies through supporting technologies to narrow down the gap between an organization's current and potential performance in terms of customer acquisition, growth, and retention. The sole purpose of CRM is to connecting the company to its customers and providing direct support. It is an effort of the business to personalize, source business intelligence and warehousing customers' requirements.

    CRM is re-designing of functional activities to drive the process of re-engineering. Its focus is on managing and optimizing the entire customer life cycle. Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) encompass the totality of the business processes that an organization performs to identify, select, acquire, develop and retain its customers. CRM encompass a wide breadth of functionality. CRM improves Return on Assets. The asset in this case is the customer and potential customer base. In other words, Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) refer to management of all interactions with the customer that an enterprise indulges in.

    Why CRM?

    Today, enterprises are finding that they no longer have the initiative. Customers are now empowered by ready access to information and have greater access to businesses than ever before they are demanding. It is essential to excel with each customer by sales, service agents, traditional face-to-face interaction, while contacting by phone, fax, and e-mail correspondence.

    Management is interested in improving productivity, profitability and enhancing management/operational information and reduction in cost of handling customers. The organisation is interested in high powered continuous information for analysis. CRM aims in improving the ability to plan and use finite resources, increase customer support, improve the customer experience, improve morale for customer support personnel and reduce the cost of providing service and support. CRM integrates all the different requirements of different functions to that of customer's requirements by co-coordinating and unifying all points of interaction to provide a big and better picture on customer satisfaction. This functionality is portrayed as:

    • CRM (Customer / Constituent relationship management),

    • CRM process management, and

    • CRM access management.

    CRM is critical to all industries, a dominant business driver. CRM based business objectives are for improving customer service, enhancing customer relationships and reducing distribution (channel) costs. Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) helps an enterprise build a database about its customers. Therefore, management, and functionaries of management could access information about all areas for value addition. Benefits of CRM

    • To develop and design strategy for their business

    • To develop business intelligence

    • To develop innovative solution

    • To improve customer service relationships as a competitive differentiator.

    • To integrate customers' view in changing market conditions

    • To achieve business objectives, increase service level commitment

    • To provide investment protection by increasing profitability, productivity & cost reduction.

    • To re-engineer business strategies.

    • To transform business.

    • To transform to a common form of user interaction with the enterprise.

    • To identify primary determinants of loyalty.

    • To understand the reason why customers defect.

    Hurdles in implementation:

    • Lack of awareness,

    • Affordability

    • Slow adoption rate,

    • Lack of proper databases

    • Usage of old processes

    • Implementation of CRM in a phased manner.

    • CRM is seen only as a technology that automates certain processes

    • Lack of understanding of the concept


    There are many reasons why CRM has not taken a leap. Though there are technologies and systems to gather useful information about their customers, they either not use the system to collect information or do not use the collected information. CRM solutions are seen among many as just a software packages for call centre management and not as a strategic initiative to customer relationship management.

    An effective CRM is the one that enables an organization to easily gather critical information that becomes a valuable resource for improving both the top (revenue) and the bottom (profit) lines. The top line is improved by increasing sales through better data management, and improving marketing effectiveness by collecting, analyzing, and using valuable customer information. The bottom line is improved by reducing service times and costs, and by improving the general productivity of the staff.

    Some realise the importance of service as a differentiator due to stringent competition. It is service that drives organization to CRM solutions. This will only change when management truly understands and is committed to CRM as a way of doing business. A total appreciation of CRM is gaining momentum.

    J. Solomon Prabakar

    Make Things Easy For Your Customers

    Writen by Ron Kaufman

    I have three complaints and three suggestions.

    One: I am sick and tired of struggling with badly designed order forms that ask me to write my credit card number in tiny little boxes.

    Two: I'm tired of getting forms from companies asking me to provide information the company already has.

    Three: I'm fed up with firms that say, 'For more information visit our website', without giving me the specific URL that takes me directly to the page I need.

    It's time for every company and every worker to wake up and realize that making things easy for your customers is a winning strategy in business (and in life).

    Here are some tactics that will help:

    One: Review every point of contact your customer encounters. Ask yourself, 'How can we make this easier, more pleasurable or more convenient?' When you find something that can be improved, do it.

    Two: Any time you want your customer to apply, renew, order or confirm anything, do everything you can to pre-fill the appropriate information. If you already know their address, put it on the form. If you already have their serial number, print it on the card. If you already have their account information, put it in the appropriate boxes, fields or spaces.

    Three: When you refer customers to your website, send them to the exact page whenever you can. Taking a moment to provide the correct URL shows respect for their time and increases the likelihood they will actually click through and find what they seek.

    Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator and motivator for partnerships and quality customer service. He is author of the bestselling "UP Your Service!" and founder of "UP Your Service College". Visit for more such Customer Service articles, subscribe to his Newsletter, or to buy his bestselling Books, Videos, Audio CDs on Customer Service from his secure Online Store. You can also watch Ron live or listen to him at

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Pay Attention To Details

    Writen by Gary Ryan Blair

    "The magic behind every outstanding performance is always found in the smallest of details."

    If you long to accomplish great and noble tasks, you first must learn to approach every task as though it were great and noble. Even the biggest project depends on the success of the smallest components.

    Many people downplay small details, dismissing them as minutia—the "small stuff," that we're encouraged to ignore. But, in fact, our whole environment is simply an accumulation of tiny details.

    Although we measure our lives in years, we live them in days, hours, minutes and seconds. Every action—every detail of our lives--has bottom-line repercussions, and it's dangerous and derogatory to think of any of those details as trivial, unimportant or inconsequential.

    Successful people, in many walks of life, understand the importance of detail:

    · Crime scene investigators know that it's often the smallest, most obscure detail that results in the arrest and prosecution of criminals.

    · Athletes and coaches are all too aware that one minor misjudgment can swing momentum to their competitor and result in a loss rather than a win.

    · Doctors and nurses understand that the slightest mistake or loss of focus can result in a tragic situation that carries massive liability.

    · Business people carefully oversee the details of their products and services, knowing that one simple slip up can cause a series of events that negatively impacts the bottom line, brand integrity, and public perception.

    · Engineers and architects know that the stability of the most gigantic structure depends on the integrity of its smallest element; a failed bolt or a misplaced pin can have huge consequences.

    · Fireman, first aid responders, and other emergency personnel are trained to focus on details even as a tragedy unfolds, as every second can make the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

    · Amusement parks know that the safety and physical well-being of their guests—and the financial viability of the company—require consistent and meticulous attention to the minute mechanical details of rides and attractions.

    · Computer programmers spend their careers tightly focused on detail, as one incorrect digit in a code of millions can create an operational nightmare for the end user.

    · Automotive detailers make their living by restoring a car to showroom condition. This requires the removal of every last piece of lint, dirt, and grime, and the tool of their trade is the simple q-tip.

    Ultimately, the key to quality in every aspect of our lives is doing little things correctly, all the time, every time, so that each action produces a quality result. When every detail is lovingly attended to, and each step in the process is given complete and careful attention, the end result inevitably will be of the highest quality.

    Passion for your work, a pervasive commitment to quality, and relentless attention to details are essential markers of excellence. Quality work and an appreciation for the importance of details benefit not just the clients a business serves; these attitudes and habits also bring joy and peace of mind to the person who delivers the work. To know how to do something exceptionally well is to enjoy it.

    The magic behind every outstanding performance, exceptional meal, fine piece of furniture, jewelry, or clothing is always found in the smallest of details. Those who enjoy the greatest success understand that it takes hundreds of small, seemingly insignificant details repeated perfectly day in and day out to create an unforgettably excellent experience.

    The people who deliver superior results are not simply doing more of the same things everyone else does; they are doing better things. Very small differences, consistently practiced, produce superior results.

    In business, it is the attention to the little things—the details—that create and build long-term customer loyalty.

    From the training of employees and the quality of products and services, to the type of stationary used in correspondence and the music customers hear when placed on hold, a successful company knows that every detail counts. The thread count of a sheet, the font style for a product's label, the lighting of a room, the welcoming smile, the floral display in the lobby, the polish and shine of a doorknob, are all small details that leave big impressions. In the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape close attention.

    If you believe you are too busy to focus on details, or that attending to the 'minutia' of your business would make you less effective in delivering your services, I encourage you to re-examine your thinking.

    Further, I can tell you this with confidence: No matter what business or personal activities you are engaged in, you will be continuously challenged by larger problems that could have been prevented if you had paid closer attention to the details at the beginning.

    The details of your work affect your company's ability to compete and prosper. A careless or cavalier approach to details is the kiss of death to progress. Those committed to excellence know that the real threat to success isn't the Armageddon of some huge and horrible slip-up; it's the much more insidious danger of being nibbled to death by the smallest of mistakes or oversights. No lapse of judgment, taste, or quality can be shrugged off by a true professional. Successful people know that everything counts.

    It's not that the devil is in the details, but that every detail contains a seed that can potentially make the difference between success and failure. Therefore, if the benefits of hard work are to be maximized attention to detail is a must.

    Excellence in any endeavor is a production in which every little detail tells a story about one's intention, commitment, and character. Pay attention to the small stuff. Consistent attention to details produces excellence—that's why every detail counts!

    Gary Ryan Blair is the inspirational force behind Everything Counts! This article on Paying Attention to Details is a brief abstract from his new book, located at: He helps business owners, corporate executives and sales professionals manage their time, set their priorities, and stay focused so they can achieve their goals, grow their business, and sustain a lasting competitive advantage. To schedule a training workshop, or to get your copy of this breakthrough book, click here now!

    Gary can be reached for speaking, coaching and media requests at 877-462-5748 or by sending an email to