Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Three Elements Of Building Long Term Profitable Business Relationships

Writen by Kenneth Wallace

There are three basic elements of building long term profitable business relationships. What needs to be kept in mind is that the following process should be followed FOR EACH PROSPECT. This can result in some "extra work" but the payoff is well worth the additional effort. The biggest obstacle in relationship development processes that I see is they don't get very specific with regards to individual prospects. By observing the following steps and becoming creative in the ways you apply them, you can rest assured that the outcomes will be what you want them to be for both you and your prospects.


A. Compose a short story of what the relationship with the prospect looks and feels like, how much money this relationship will bring into the company over a specified period of time and how much value and joy your organization will bring to the prospect (what you will give so that you can receive)

B. Devise a written plan detailing the steps that will be taken to create the desired outcome; obtain input from everyone in the value-chain who will have an impact on this prospect as a customer (be sure to tell them the story of the organization's future relationship with this prospect)

C. Determine a date by which the desired outcome will occur

D. Assign specific milestones and timelines that need to be accomplished along the way

E. Budget for each prospect the amount of money needed to take the steps (if you skimp here, you'll probably wind up wasting any money you do spend; remember, you're investing to develop a long term business relationship, not a short term sale)

F. Hold "Huddles" with rotating contributors to the value-chain at least once a month to report progress, review the story (is what we've done so far helping to tell the story we wrote at the beginning of this process?) and solicit feedback and additional input; revise the relationship development plan based on the results of these Huddles

G. Engage in "Business Edification:" develop cost-free and low-cost ways you can help your prospect succeed in their business without charging them; this is an investment in the relationship and is provided without expectation of return – furthermore, this sort of activity should be constantly pursued even after (especially after) the prospect has become a paying customer

H. Determine who else (what other products and/or services) could benefit the prospect in ways they haven't yet thought of (this is thinking about the prospect's business needs and opportunities before they think of them themselves); explore creative ways you can partner with your prospect to help them get more than they expected in their business enterprises; go one step further and explore ways you can help them partner with other businesses that will help them grow their business influence and profits


A. Review all available marketing data and current research on competitors at the Huddle meetings

B. If new information indicates the need, create a strategy and a plan for countering any competitive advantages a competitor might be developing or might now have

C. Incorporate this information and this strategy into the relationship development plan

D. Determine what makes your customers continue to do business with you and then write a story about how your customers are better at what they do because of their relationship with you (use metaphors and analogies rather than merely reporting the "facts" and inserting testimonials)


A. When it comes to developing long term profitable business relationships, a sale is a natural result of marketing – selling should not be considered as a separate process independent of marketing (the sales process flows out of and back into the marketing process)

B. Make every contact with the prospect (in any form – phone, email, letter, face-to-face, etc.) value added regarding information they can use immediately to solve a problem and/or increase their business influence and profits; the first two contacts should be both about you and about them with all subsequent contacts primarily about them (as an example, faxing articles about their industry which demonstrates that you know about them, their industry and what they're reading – or should be reading)

C. Think ahead of the curve of your prospect's need; consider their fiscal year and when they will be most likely to need your products/services and those of other businesses as well; this way, you become viewed as a solicited trusted advisor and not an intrusive salesperson (as the marketing guru Dan Kennedy says, "an invited guest, not an unwanted pest")

D. Follow up with every opportunity to define and solve a problem or create and capitalize on an opportunity; if you can help your prospects see their businesses a little more clearly from an outside perspective, you'll have gone a long way in forging a strong and lasting bond of respect and trust with them

Ken Wallace, M. Div., CSL has been in the organizational development field since 1973. He is a seasoned consultant, speaker and executive coach with extensive business experience in multiple industries who provides practical organizational direction and support for business leaders. A professional member of the National Speakers Association since 1989, he is also a member of the International Federation for Professional Speaking and holds the Certified Seminar Leader (CSL) professional designation awarded by the American Seminar Leaders Association.

Ken is one of only eight certified Business Systems Coaches worldwide for General Motors.

His topics include ethics, leadership, change, communication & his unique Optimal Process Design® program.

Tel:(800)235-5690 Claim your free eBook, "How to Do Better Than Your Best in Anything You Do" by visiting the Better Than Your Best website.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

5 Simple Tips For Dealing With Nasty Customers

Writen by Jason Tarasi

If you've been in business very long, you've likely heard it all! You know, the irate customer who is going to sue you over the nineteen dollar product that they claim is bogus; the one that's going to "shut your business down" because they conjure up in their minds that you might have breeched your privacy policy, or the one that takes complete advantage of your money-back guaranty. My favorite has to be the one that calls and screams vulgarities into the phone for apparently no reason.

It doesn't happen often, but if you're going to be in business, you will run across some nut cases from time to time. Some can be diffused, some can't. That's just the way things go in business.

There are some simple techniques for dealing with irate customers without burning yourself an ulcer over them and without telling them you hope they get cancer and die!

Here are some tips you may find useful…

1. Don't take it personal

There is one thing that almost all nasty customers have in common. They try to attack you on a personal level. Name calling is not unusual. When you take it personal, you are likely to get into a yelling match with the customer which resolves nothing and only stands to make things worse. Try to diffuse the situation – kill the anger with kindness so to speak. If that doesn't work, ask them to contact you again once they have calmed down and are willing to speak reasonably. Refuse to speak with a customer in an irate state. You don't have to put up with abuse ever.

2. Don't overdo the "customer is always right" concept

In customer service training you will always hear that the customer is always right. While that is true to some extent, sometimes they are just flat wrong. You should always try to accommodate a customer within reason, but do not allow that concept to go too far.

3. Realize it isn't always your problem

Sometimes people just have a bad day and are looking for someone to take it out on. A hateful, ugly customer is often one of these people. If you listen to their ranting and raving, then respond kindly telling them you understand their frustration and you want to work with them to come to a resolution, you will often diffuse the anger and uncover the rational human being beneath it.

4. Don't fall for fear invoking bluffs In customer service some business people tend to do anything to avoid the potential harm of a threat even if it means losing money or giving in to irrational demands. When you are threatened, consider the validity of the threat. Do you really think someone is going to pay thousands of dollars in attorney fees to sue you over a low dollar transaction? Likely not. Again, do what you can to accommodate within reason but don't give in to unsubstantiated threats.

5. Be prepared to decide whether or not a customer relationship is worth salvaging

You've heard it said that one happy customer tells one person about your business while an unhappy customer will tell 10 or more. Undoubtedly, word of mouth can be the best or the worst exposure for your business. This is the very basis of the "the customer is always right" concept. Of course it is best to salvage a customer relationship if you can, but again, do so within reason.

Jason Tarasi publishes the reciprocal links newsletter "Elite Links" Learn HOW thousands of other Elite Links members generate FREE traffic and increase their search engine rankings by swapping links. Grab your free lifetime subscription now at:

Monday, December 29, 2008

How Can Retailers Get Customer Loyalty

Writen by Harriet Hodgson

Customer loyalty. Say these words and retailers' eyes light up. Every retailer wants customer loyalty and wants to keep it. Some retailers would do almost anything to get customer loyalty, and I understand that. I'm a grandmother and, thanks to birthdays, an experienced shopper, and I think customer loyalty is waning. The question is, why?

Misreading the customer is one reason. A few months ago I went to a furniture store to look around. No other customers were in the store and when the sales associate saw me he started following me. Judging by his body language and the questions he asked, he thought I was confused. If I took a step, he took a step. When I walked to the opposite side of the store he shadowed me.

Talk about annoying. Finally, in exasperation I turned around and said, "I know where I am. I know what I want. What I don't want is to be followed." The man was so shocked he retreated to his office. Unfortunately, I've had this experience in many stores. Do sales associates think all gray haired grandmothers are demented?

The people in charge of employee training should rethink their training, it seems to me. For every time I walk into a store somebody asks, "Do you have any questions?" This is also annoying. Because I'm the age I am I know how to stand up for myself. Believe me, if I had any questions I would ask them.

Can't a person window shop any more? I know sales associates are trained to approach me in case I'm a shop-lifter. Some grandmothers may be shop-lifters, but I'm not one of them. Because I care about my community and want local businesses to succeed, I have some suggestions for retailers.

* TELL ME ABOUT YOUR NEW MERCHANDISE. I would love to hear about the new stretch jeans, colorful t-shirts, and blouses that double as jackets. Hearing about new merchandise gets my attention and may lead to a sale. Even if I don't buy anyting I'lltell my friends about your fabulous merchandise.

* BE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS. These days, many sales associates don't know squat about what they're selling. When you ask them a question they look befuddled. Some act like they don't even care. If you don't care about your merchandise, why should I?

* DRESS FOR THE JOB. Yeah, yeah, I know low-rise jeans are the fad, but it's not a fad I embrace. I've seen too much flesh - overhanging tummies, partial buns, and bare buns. Dealing with a half-dressed sales associate makes me want to walk out the door. I didn't come in the door half naked, so why did you?

* IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A SALE BE COURTEOUS. Lack of courtesy is an instant turn-off. I'm only asking for common courtesy, not false emotion, a flowery speech, or endless sales pitch. Thank me if I bought something and thank me if I didn't. Courtesy also includes a no-hassle return policy.

* RESPECT MY TIME. If you're busy with a customer, say so. Tell me how long it will be before you get around to me. Suggest something I could do in the meantime, such as looking at your catalog or the sale merchandise at the back of the store.

Though customer loyalty is worth its weight in gold, you can't put a price on it. Television and newspaper ads talk about senior citizens' spendable income. I may not have much spendable income, but I'm only shopping at stores that treat me right. If retailers want my loyalty they'll have to earn it.

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been a nonfiction writer for 27 years and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is published by Amazon and available from A five-star review of the book is also posted on Amazon. You'll find another review on the American Hospice Foundation website under the "School Corner" heading.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why Is Customer Service Important

Writen by Morgan Hamilton

If you are someone who eats out a lot then you know how important customer service is. Of course, it varies from establishment to establishment, and from person to person. Opinions and standards vary quite a bit, but I think we all agree that customer service is very important. We all want to be treated well and to enjoy that friendly service we all deserve. Having spent a decade working in customer service jobs, I can attest that it can be a rather unpleasant occupation to say the latest. However, when you deal with the public for a living and depend on their generosity to pay your bills, you don't have to ask a foolish question like, why is customer service important? That answer has been made clear long ago. The first job I landed was at a Chinese restaurant. The proprietor was an old friend of my uncle's. The first question he hit me with was, why is customer service important? It was actually kind of a tough to understand what he was trying to say in his broken English. I thought he asked me; why is cussing servants in Portland? I was taken aback for a moment but was rescued when he was distracted by another matter. My pal then mercifully translated what he had said, and I basically laughed it off with relief.

While I may not have understood every word that my new employer was trying to say, I didn't have any difficulty learning the value of good customer service. I quickly found out when my deliveries didn't make it on time. Late delivery equaled irritated hungry patron, which meant that I didn't get a tip. Over the next several years I tried jobs in video stores, malls, and taverns. Bartending brought a completely new dynamic to the question, why is customer service important? What do you people to drink, there is a whole new set of rules that you have to operate with. You really do have to keep your emotions in check. Remember, angry customers means no tips. And if you get a trunk customer who knows what he's capable of. When you work positions like these, you want and need the gratuity. You really don't hit an hourly wage that adds up to much so this is really important.

If you are in the service industry then no doubt you fully understand the value of good customer service. I know you don't even have to ask why is customer service important? Since most of us have dined our or been to a bar, we all know what things are crucial. No one likes to be kept waiting nor do they like poor service, especially when you're paying good money. This not only keeps the patrons happy, but the boss as well. Poor customer service can certainly cause a customer to never return. So you ask why is customer service important? Because it pays the bills.

Morgan Hamilton offers expert advice and great tips regarding all aspects concerning business. Get more information by visiting Why is Customer Service Important

Saturday, December 27, 2008

4 Things Your Clients Want From Your Company

Writen by Darcie Davis

Sure, all clients are different. They have different kinds of strengths, weaknesses, cultures and goals. Even what blocks their efficiency and growth (blind spots) is different. Davis, Kingsley & Company has conducted hundreds of interviews and there are four strong themes that always emerge.

Listen to me. This is the Big Daddy of client desires. Your clients want you to listen to them. The implications of this theme lead to a variety of creative programs that will put you in a listening position with your clients. While surveys, at times, can be useful, we have found they do not satisfy a client's need to be heard.

Show me you've listened. If your clients take the time to speak up and offer their opinions about their experience with your company, your company must show a response. This doesn't mean thank you notes. This means showing the client that changes have been made. Showing them that their opinions made a difference. This is another opportunity to be creative about building relations with clients.

Serve, don't sell. Each client thinks they are different and unique. They also know they have needs and they know your company has some solutions. Clients want their service providers to listen to their needs and offer a response to the need when appropriate. This is different from selling although the activity may end with a sale being made. They do not want to hear your sales pitches just because you have a need to book more business or cross-sell.

Understand me. Every client thinks they are unique. You must do research to understand the problems your clients face from an individual standpoint as well as from company and industry perspectives. Demonstrating that you understand their unique personal and company concerns can be one of your key service differentiators.

Davis, Kingsley & Company can help you design and execute an effective client satisfaction assessment program to address these themes.

Provide mechanisms to listen to your clients. Companies hire us if they want candid and honest feedback from their clients. Our outsider status lets individuals talk freely about whatever is on their minds.

Be creative about demonstrating that you have listened. We work with companies to help them respond to the positive feedback to any problems uncovered. Then we make sure their clients are aware of the changes. After all, it was their opinions that offered the insights.

Build good relationships; it's still primary. It's common knowledge now that most complex sales are consummated after solid relationships are built. And we all know the best relationships are built on trust and respect. Davis, Kingsley & Company helps companies create opportunities that allow their clients to trust and respect them.

How is your organization doing? What would your clients say to us?

Darcie Davis, President of Davis, Kingsley & Company. Darcie is a management consultant, speaker, author and trainer. She works with companies to secure genuine feedback from their clients before advising them on strategic decisions about sales, marketing, and operations. Her advice will keep your clients out of the jaws of the competition.

Learn more about Darcie and the services offered at her firm at:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Customer Service Policy Geared For Excellence

Writen by Alicia Smith

One unhappy customer will tell the world about inferior service while a happy customer rarely tells a soul. Your challenge as a business owner is to create a buzz so positive about your products and services that your clients and customers will become your raving fans and will tell the world about you!

Your lesson for today is to put pen to paper and write a rock solid customer service policy for your business. This policy should state explicitly how you will treat your customers at each and every turn. By answering the following questions, you will have covered the basics of your customer service program. Are you ready?

1. Who is your customer, and what are you doing to get to know him or her on a personal level?
Examples: Customer profile cards

One employee assigned to following the wins and wows of your customers

A bulletin board celebrating the events in the lives of your customers

2. What is your return policy, and how are customers treated when they return an item?

Use the same courtesy you used when a customer purchased an item.

3. What is your policy for returning phone calls and eMails?

Customers generally want a response within 24 hours, and this policy should be stated and posted.

4. How does everyone in your company answer the telephone?

People want a cheerful voice on your end of the telephone. They also do not want a busy signal when they call.

5. What is your policy for dealing with customers during a wait?

People love special treatment. Use this time to roll out the red carpet by offering a cup of coffee, a soda, or a glass of sparkling water.

6. What is your policy for training staff on how to serve your customers?

Spend one hour, two times per month, educating your staff on how to treat your customers. This treatment could make or break your relationship with your customers.

7. What is your policy for dealing with vendors and their products?

Your vendors are a part of your company, and the quality and care, which you request from them for your customers, should be exceptional. Remember...if your vendors are not providing you with outstanding customer service, your clients/customers will suffer.

8. If you offer a guarantee or warranty, are you honoring this?

If your customer knows that your product or service is guaranteed but there are too many loopholes that make this null and void, you will lose trust with your buyers.

9. Who is your benchmark?

Benchmarking is the continuous process of measuring products, services, and business practices of your company against the toughest and best competition in your industry. Your benchmark can be anyone and does not have to be restricted to your local region. What is the best company in your field doing that you are not doing or that you can do better?

10. What is your policy for dealing with customer complaints?

People do not want excuses from you regarding poor service. They want help, and they want words that are empathetic such as "I can tell you are disappointed. I am so very sorry. Let me see if I can help you out of this jam." If a customer thinks there is a problem, there is a problem. A customer is always right even when he or she is wrong.

11. What is your shipping policy (if you ship products).

People want quick delivery, and they want their product delivered in impeccable condition. Work this out on paper and be prepared to tell a customer with confidence that he or she will receive the product quickly and in great shape!

12. How do you keep a client updated when an item is on backorder?

Keep the lines of communication open by sending frequent updates on the status of a customer's wait.

13. What are your hours of operation?

This seems simple, but it is very important. People want to know when you are open and when you are closed. Post these on your website and add them to your voice mail greeting.

14. What are the 20 ways that you add value to your customers?
Do you offer private sales? Do you offer discounts to current customers? Do you invite your customers in to sample new products and services before the general public gets a peek? Do your best to come up with at least 20 ways that you add value to your services, and deliver those with a wonderful attitude? Do you offer a kid's corner, Valet parking, a Concierge service, or something that makes your customers go WOW? Think creatively on this question, and come up with at least 20 ways you add value to the life of your buyers. This could be something as simple as special soap in the restrooms or the most current selection of magazines in your waiting area.

15. How often do you use customer satisfaction surveys to improve your business?

Surveys are a great way to find out what is on the minds of your customers. On Day 76, we will be asking you to develop a customer survey, so begin thinking about what it is that you want to know that will improve the effectiveness of your company.

© Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith is a Coach and Trainer whose specialty is helping coaches to Make Money Now. This article is derived from just one of the 90 lessons contained in her e-course, 90-Day Marketing Marathon. To learn more visit

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dont Be Afraid To Give Problem Customers The Boot

Writen by Tim Knox

Q: In a recent column you made the point that the customer is always right, which I agree with. However, in the same column you also said that it is sometimes necessary give problem customers the boot. If the customer is always right, at what point do you think they become so problematic that you should stop doing business with them? -- Gary M.

A: That column brought a number of emails similar to yours, Gary, requesting that I clarify the line between "the customer is always right" and "sometimes you have to give a customer the boot." Here's the bottom line: if you, as a business owner or service provider, are willing to take a customer's money in exchange for providing him with goods or services, then the customer has what I call "the right of expectation." This means that the customer has the right to expect you to deliver everything promised in the transaction between you. For example, if you own a restaurant the customer has the right to expect that their meal will be prepared and served to their satisfaction. If you are a dry cleaner the customer has the right to expect that you will launder their clothes without returning them in shreds. If are hired to perform a service the customer has the right to expect that the service will be provided to their satisfaction within the terms of the defined task.

As the business owner, it is your responsibility to meet the customer's expectations and provide good customer service. Even if your business does not involve a formal contract that spells out to the letter what should be expected, there is generally a clear understanding of what the customer expects and what you are willing to deliver. If you back peddle on your end of the bargain, let's say by serving a bad meal or losing a customer's laundry and refusing to make things right, then you are guilty of not meeting the expectations of your customer and thereby are guilty of providing bad customer service.

Unfortunately not every entrepreneur puts emphasis on delivering good customer service. They are in it for the money and damn the customer if they have a problem. Such entrepreneurs were the topic of the column you mentioned, the point of which was, if you make a habit of not meeting your customer's expectations, you will not be in business for long.

Now let's look at the flipside. Just as the customer has the right to expect that he will get his money's worth when doing business with you, you have the right to expect that your customer will not demand things that are beyond the scope of realistic expectations (or the contract). If a customer orders hamburger, he shouldn't expect it to taste like steak unless you have advertised it as such. If a customer brings you a cotton shirt to launder he should not expect a silk shirt in return. It's when the customer's expectations get out of sync with what should realistically be expected that you will have problems.

We have all had customers who expected far more than was their due: customers who were unreasonable, overly demanding, condescending, hard to please and sometimes, even dishonest in their dealings with you. When a customer's reasonable expectations become unreasonable demands you must decide whether or not that customer is doing more harm to your business than good.

So here is the line in the sand between the "customer is always right" and "sometimes you have to give the customer the boot" - if a customer crosses the line from being an asset to being a detriment to your business, you should consider giving that customer the boot.

This is easier said than done if that customer constitutes a large chunk of your revenue, but even then you have to consider what your business might be like if that problem customer was not in the picture. Would the time you spend dealing with the problem customer be better spent on sales calls that might expand your client base and grow your business (a business that is dependent on one client is a house of cards)? Would your employees be happier not having to deal with this customer? Would you sleep better nights knowing that you don't have a dozen phone messages from him on your desk every morning?

The easiest way to decide how much trouble a customer is worth is to look at the amount of revenue this customer brings in versus the time and expense of meeting his expectations. If this customer pays you $1,000 a month, but costs you $2,000 in time spent keeping them happy, this customer is actually costing you money. Just a handful of these kinds of customers will put you out of business fast..

For example, I once had a client whose business was worth several thousand dollars a year to my software company's bottom line. However, this client proved to be problematic from the second the contract was signed. He and his employees called our office ten times a day and dominated my tech support team's time with IT problems that were not even related to the service we were contracted to provide. It got so bad that my employees cringed every time the phone rang because they were afraid it was this client calling again.

When the time came to renew this client's contract it wasn't hard for me to decide to give him the boot. I simply did the math. This client had added thousands of dollars to my company's bottom line, but had cost me at least that much in handholding and support, not to mention the mental anguish he had caused my employees. I opted not to renew the contract and politely invited the client to take his business elsewhere.

The perfect customer relationship is win/win, meaning that your customer benefits from your product or service and your company prospers by delivering the product or service. The relationship must be built on mutual respect and honest intention. It is when the relationship becomes win/lose that you must be ready to take action. If the customer thinks he can hold you over a barrel and get more out of you than he has paid for, the relationship and your business suffer for it.

Look, you don't need me to hit you in the head with a stupid stick on this one. You know who your problem customers are and you know that you will eventually have to deal with them. You have to consider the value of every customer in the long run, not just their value today.

Is the customer making demands that are beyond the scope of what should be reasonably expected? If the customer constantly demands more than they are entitled to and gets angry when you refuse to comply, consider giving them the boot.

Is the customer taking advantage of your good graces? Some customers may mistake your willingness to please for weakness and try to wring more out of your relationship than they should. If the customer has a record of trying to take advantage of you and plays every angle to get more from you than they deserve, consider giving them the boot.

Is this customer a threat to your reputation? Let's face it; there is nothing more harmful to your reputation than a dissatisfied customer with a big mouth. And it does not matter who is at fault in the disagreement, a disgruntled customer is going to bad mouth you in the end - especially if they were at fault. If you suspect a customer might be the sort to one day air dirty laundry in public, consider giving them the boot.

Does the customer pay in a timely manner? If you have a customer that is consistently 90 to 120 days late in paying even when your contract clearly outlines your payment terms to be otherwise, it may be indicative of other problems to come. If you feel the client is a payment risk, consider giving them the boot.

What's the best way to avoid a customer booting? The best answer is to have a contract that clearly spells out the specifics of the relationship. The contracts I use in my various businesses clearly define the services to be provided, the cost of those services, and the timeline and terms under which those services will be rendered. If there is a deviation from the contract, we write an addendum that details any changes and their effect on the contract. Do I still have to give some customers the boot? You bet, but not very often. It's hard for a customer to cry foul when everything is there in black and white right above his signature.

What if your business doesn't use contracts? Then hang a poster in your shop or have a hand-out that clearly defines what your customer can expect from your business and then deliver what you promise. If you have a poster or hand-out that clearly outlines your services, your rates, scheduling, return policy, etc., there should be very little that the customer can complain about.

I know, famous last words.

Here's to your success!

Small Business Q&A is written by veteran entrepreneur and syndicated columnist, Tim Knox. Tim's latest books include "Small Business Success Secrets" and "The 30 Day Blueprint For Success!" Related Links:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Creating A Successful Call Center Script

Writen by Karin Rosner

At the beginning of my creative career, I volunteered as an overnight deejay at a college radio station. I loved playing the music and interacting with insomniac listeners, but I got a real kick out of reading the news. I would tear copy straight off the wire service printer and if I was lucky, I had a producer turn that raw newsfeed into informational text that I read into the microphone. The text was broken up into reasonable sentences that were designed for easy delivery over the air. When my producer didn't show up for my shift, I did this myself I'd mark up the page, insert pauses, and emphasize the words and sentence clauses that I wanted to stress. If I couldn't be understood over a fuzzy and weak AM signal, then what was the point of taking five minutes at the top of the hour to deliver the news? I had a lot of fun and I learned how to "speak" all over again. Whenever I do any live speaking today, I use the same exact techniques that I learned while the "On-Air" sign was flashing above the studio. I mark up my speech or the text passage I'm reading because I know that impact is everything. If I lose my breath in the middle of a sentence, then it's too long. If the last word of a sentence drops out inaudibly, my message is lost. If I stumble on an unfamiliar word or name, my audience loses confidence in my message.

Live telephone operators who work in call centers and answering services need the same help that any live speaker needs. It's the job of the call center operator to communicate the client's business image to the caller, and this begins with the first few seconds of the phone call. Many small business owners' needs never go beyond representatives answering their lines with "XYZ Company, may I help you?" and improvising the rest of the conversation to obtain the information that the client requests. When clients upgrade their accounts to more complex services, it's important that they create a script that works for both the company signing up for the service, the operator reading the script, and the customer. Your sales representative is more than willing to help you create the best script to fit all of your sales or information inquiries.

Creating a call center script begins with the "answer phrase" and the same principles continue through the entire process of creating a logical script. H ere are some important items to keep in mind when you are creating your script:

•Avoid tongue twisters. Make your greeting as easy to pronounce as possible. "Doctor Perkowicz Peoria Plastic Surgery Plaza" isn't easy to say, even for the native English speaker. Make sure that your operators know how to pronounce every part of your answer phrase, and the rest of the words in your script. Keep phrases brief and avoid repeating consonant sounds that will sound awkward over the phone or might lead the operator to stutter.

•Go global. A "Good Morning/ Evening" greeting can work for some businesses, but not for all of them. If your company is doing business across time zones, think about using a simple "Hello, XYZ Company" for your customer on the other end of the globe.

•Humanize your greeting. Have an impartial friend or a trusted customer listen to your greeting, especially if it's a long introductory message of more than a sentence or two. Do you sound like a recording? If you give that impression to a caller, the person on the other end of the line might just hang up because she wants to talk with a live person, not a machine. Keep all parts of your script brief and give the operator relaying your message time to breathe and sound like a live person when you create your script.

•Less is more. There's a temptation to try and pack all the information about your company into your call center script, including providing an operator a copy of your frequently asked questions list (FAQ) so that he or she can quickly scan the file and answer 99.9 % of your callers' questions. However, this skill takes practice and training on the part of the operator and patience on the part of the caller. Long pauses to look up information, add expensive minutes to the call and are frustrating experiences for the operator and the caller alike. Extensive account training is available through most call centers, if your budget permits. If this resource is not an option for you, limit the information available to the operators to a few facts about your product or service, and let them know that it's okay to ask callers if someone from the right department can return their call and answer their questions in depth.

•Test. Call up your account weekly and test to make sure that the operators are following your instructions, are handling your scripts the way that you expect, and are able to easily access the information that they need to take your calls. After the honeymoon period with a new account, operators often grow lax and shorten your script, or improvise far beyond the call of duty. This can be detrimental to your business. Make sure that you follow up with your call center to make sure they are serving your needs.

•Tweak, and tweak again. Review your script from time to time, and see if it's still leading to action. Ultimately, your script should lead to a sale, an appointment a request for more information or further contact from your office. Check your call logs and any statistics your sales representative provides you with on a monthly basis. If you notice a downward trend in your results, work with your sales rep to change your script.

These suggestions are only the beginning of creating a successful call center script for your organization. Work with your sales representative and listen to their suggestions, add your own, do your market research and your script will be a success. Clear communication starts with clear instructions from you, and clear voices on the answering end of your phone lines. Your call center will work with you to make sure that all of your needs are filled over and above your expectations.

Karin Rosner is a New York City based writer and has worked at 1-800 We Answer, a division of EFLS, Inc. ( and ) since 2004. When not writing articles on the call center industry or working on her first novel, she actually answers the phones for hundreds of clients who use her company's live answering and call center services.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Setting Up A Customer Of The Week Program For A Mobile Car Wash

Writen by Lance Winslow

In a mobile detail or mobile car wash business you are on a first name basis with your customers. You sink or swim with your ability to please your customer and rely on them to build your business by referring their friends, associates and neighbors. One excellent way to insure referrals is to set up a "Customer of the Week Program." Here are some pointers to help you do just that.

Programs And Certificates

This program lets people know you value their business. If you don't have a program yet but feel someone is worthy of a discount, simply tell them that they're the customer of the week. If they ask why, tell them they're the best customer in the office and their award is a dollar discount. Sometimes a person in a bad mood will be picked up and turned around by this little bit of attention.

You'll find in your Microsoft Word or Works program that probably came on your computer has templates for various certificates, which you can easily modify. Make yourself a file for a certificate that can be printed out for a Customer of the Week award. Carry these in the work truck or van and hand them out where you feel they'll do the most good and to customers who are the most deserving.

Free Washes

If someone goes into their office, spreads the word of your arrival and brings you a bunch of customers, when they ask how much they owe you let them know you appreciate their effort by giving them their wash for a discount or for free or collect and refuse the tip and hand them a free customer of the week wash for next week, this will insure more customers next week and a new customer for life. You might even consider letting them know if they continue to bring you business (x number of customers per week), you'll wash their car for free each week. This will save you the time of selling through their building since generally they know almost everyone on a more personal basis than you do. This will create a bigger following of regular weekly customers much faster.

Always keep your grass roots marketing and word of mouth advertising simple and never forget to ask for a referral when you know you have done well and deserve it. People are glad to give referrals, but some folks just need to be asked. Think about it.

Lance Winslow

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Friendliest Airport In The World

Writen by Ron Kaufman

Singapore's Changi Airport has been rated #1 in the world so many times the trophy cabinet is bulging.

They've hit #1 in efficiency, speed, shopping, security, safety and ease of use.

But the category called 'courtesy and friendliness' has eluded Changi Airport's capture. This is not surprising, perhaps, given that the local culture has grown in a city known more for 'trading and exchanging' than 'providing gracious warmth and hospitality'.

Now the airport is facing this challenge head-on. The depth and magnitude of commitment are impressive: a brand new 'service promise' with high impact launch program for 7,000 staff, customized full-day training for 3,000 frontline staff members, monthly courtesy awards, customer feedback kiosks, service improvement contests, mystery traveler audits, constant reminders for staff (and customers) with posters, badges and banners, newsletter articles, special announcements and more.

This is total commitment, typical of Singapore Changi Airport. With such intensity and clarity of focus, the program will surely work.

Key Learning Point
Changing a culture takes time and effort, energy, creativity and focus. It's not a project to do halfway, not for the half-hearted.

Action Steps
What upgrade or improvements are you working on right now? Are you doing everything you can to really make it happen? Need some inspiration? Come visit Singapore's Changi Airport.

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Customer Service Tips 4 Steps For Turning Customer Moments Into Customer Experiences

Writen by Richard Flint

It doesn't matter much if you think your customer care is good. What do your customers think? Do you know at the beginning of the selling process that your customer is going to be satisfied? The experience that your customer has with your company has more to do with your behavior towards them than anything else.

Too many people treat a customer like a moment, rather than an important EXPERIENCE. You see, people just want to know that they matter. Not just their money or their time, but they want to know that they matter as a human being. When you treat your customers like taking care of them is the absolute most important part of your day, you solidify in their minds good thoughts of you and your company. Your customer is the one who defines whether you're good at what you do, and they do that through their definition of their experience.

Here are 4 steps that you can take to make sure your customer NEVER is treated as a "moment" but as the focus of your business:

    Make sure you have plenty of time for them. Remember: more than anything, they want to know that they matter. If your customer feels pushed, interrupted, unwelcome, or put off, they will not really be satisfied.

    Organize yourself to take care of their needs. Two of the biggest destructive forces in business are inconsistencies and inefficiencies. If you are inconsistent or inefficient, your customers take the brunt of it; it's punishment to them.

    Manage the moments of touch. You know all the critical junctions where your customers connect emotionally with your business or product and those are the places where you should be constantly monitoring what's going on with them and with you. It is at these junctions that your customers will form their opinion of who you are.

    Empower your business associates to make decisions. Anytime a customer has to wait on permission from someone else in the company, their frustration level increases.

Your customers determine their own satisfaction. Don't wait until it's too late to know if they are satisfied. If you are wondering about it, then it's too late! It's your behavior that will make them feel like they are the focus of your business.

For the past 26 years, Richard Flint has been helping businesses understand the business of people. Whether it's managers, employees, or customers he has the knowledge, insight, and experience required to create an environment where everyone wins. To learn more about Richard and how to create positive customer 'experiences', visit

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Theres A Lot To Be Said For Please Amp Thankyou Training

Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

Once, in the middle of a major consulting assignment I chatted with two managers about the prior customer service training that they had sponsored for their staff.

With derision in his voice, one described the program as "Please & Thank You" training.

Well that's pretty mindless and wasteful, I recall thinking.

But now, I have a different viewpoint. I believe every customer interfacing person should be taught the importance of saying please and thank you at least five times more often.

It was either Aristotle or Plato who reportedly said that education is the one good thing in life that we can't get too much of, though I don't think they encountered chocolate.

But we can definitely add to that short list, courtesy.

Customers love hearing please and thank you, repeatedly, because it makes them feel important. And by uttering these words, we remind ourselves who comes first, in business.

Over the years, there has been a steady democratizing of the employee-customer relationship, and I'm not sure it has been that productive. One sign of it is when a banking CSR asks you who he is speaking to, and you reply with your full name, and he then uses your first name through the remainder of the conversation.

Who authorized him to take such a liberty?

Growing up, the etiquette I learned was that we use someone's formal name, i.e. Dr. Mr. or Ms. along with the last name, if the person is older, if the person has higher status or power, if we have just met, or until we have been invited by that person to be less formal.

But again, the presumption is that we're ceding authority and power to the customer. If we think we're superior or equals, then I suppose we'll dispense with this customary etiquette.

Some CEO's like to invert the order of importance, saying that their employees come first, customers second, and stockholders, third. There's nothing wrong with lionizing your staff, but does it have to come at the expense of other constituencies?

No matter, I'm sure front-line folks wouldn't mind hearing please and thank you from their managers 500% more often, as well!

Dr. Gary S. Goodman © 2006

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. A frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide, Gary's programs are offered by UCLA Extension and by numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. Gary is headquartered in Glendale, California. He can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Putting The Quotservicequot Back In Quotcustomer Servicequot

Writen by Sean Cohen

The future of customer service is here. Technology has made seeking out support faster and easier than ever. But, has your digital age company sacrificed true service in the name of automation?

Today, finding customer support is as simple as writing an e-mail or picking up the phone. But, even though you're not face-to-face with your customers, you still leave a lasting impression. Do you come across as caring and competent, or menacing and mechanical?

Offering stand-out service on the Internet isn't as hard as it is rare. Take these simple steps towards old-style service in the digital age:

* Give Each Customer a Personal Response

* Be Clear, But Sincere

* Offer Live Customer Support

* Make Sure Your Support Reps Have All the Answers


When a customer sits down to e-mail your company, it's because he needs help. He chooses e-mail because it's quick, but his request still warrants a satisfying and personal response!

Companies eager to save time and money often take automation too far in their customer support. Each customer has a unique question, and deserves a unique answer. Even if you save time by copying and pasting stock replies, change the opening and closing to make the message sound less robotic.


When responding to customers' e-mail, be sincere and to the point. Before sending a message, try turning the tables. Ask yourself, "Would this answer satisfy *me* if I were the customer?"

Take that extra moment to give your customer the help he deserves. It might mean the difference between a satisfied customer and a credit card chargeback!


E-mail has become an acceptable form of communication. But, live customer support is still necessary. The plethora of information available online can be overwhelming to customers, especially those new to the Internet!

Single your company out from the crowd by providing customers with a real person to talk to. Live phone support is an invaluable way to foster trust. When your customer has reached the end of his Internet rope, and just needs *help*, your toll free number is the answer he's looking for.


The presence of phone support will do no good if your staff doesn't know your product! Customer support reps should be warm and friendly, and willing to help with any aspect of your product.

What a good feeling it is to talk to someone who feels confident in his product. It's even better if he's knowledgeable enough to solve your problem without transferring you all around the company!


Too many e-businesses skimp on customer service, hiding behind web sites and message boards. Customer support is an integral part of every company, even those operating solely online. Be one of the few to offer stellar service, and gain customers for life!

Customer Service is becoming a lost art, but Sean Cohen wants to make sure that never happens at AWeber Communications! Find out what service is meant to be:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are You Putting Technology Before Your Customers

Writen by Douglas Titchmarsh

Which is more important the technology or the customer?

The one thing about the online world you can be sure of is change. It seems like every day there is a new technology being added which will make the internet more accessible. As online marketers, we strive to keep up with all these trends and incorporate them into our marketing arsenals.

Going back to when the internet started, it was a bit of a nerdy place to be, with lots of people communicating in text only. Some savvy individuals saw how this growing community could be exploited and used to advertise their wares, and with all the hyperlinking joining them to other sites they could be easily found.

Then the world wide web evolved from the basic internet adding pictures and multimedia and eventually adding videos too, and it became even more useful to marketing. Added in with email which made it possible to reach a large audience at low cost the web became irresistable to businesses.

Each step forward brings with it even more opportunities for us online entrepreneurs to get our messages seen.

But as it marches on into new technologies are we all missing the point somewhat?

We all need our ads to be seen, but often we seem to be spending more time wrestling with new technology than actually working. Everyone is jumping on the blogging bandwagon at the moment and offering xml and rss feeds to get their messages out.

Flash video, along with audio, and video streams is also being used extensively, and often unneccessarily to market products.

But even more alarming is the reliance some people are placing on this new technology, to the point of abandoning traditional email and websites.

Let me relate this recent story which actually happened.

I received a newsletter which I read regularly, and like many others the owner was having problems with getting his email newsletter through spam filters. Like many newsletter publishers he had decided to publish his newsletter as a webpage. He started sending out regular emails when the newsletter was available, and including the link to read it. All ok so far.

It was shortly afterwards I received an update from this newsletter telling me that it would no longer be available as a web page, but would now be an rss feed only. And telling me if I wanted to carry on reading I should download some software to do so.

Whoa, backtrack there.

Your subscribers can only read your newsletter if they download some extra software and learn how to use it?

I emailed the owner to point out that I thought it was a bad idea. You want your subscribers to stick with you, make it easy for them, the reply I got was that I should join the 21st century, if I wanted to read his newsletter he would tell me how I should do it.

No I don't want to read it that bad thanks anyway.

So before you go running headlong into the latest technological marvels of the internet, think about what your customers need. Do they have the latest greatest browser to view your latest greatest multimedia masterpiece? Will they need to download some extra software just to view your newsletter?

Subscribers are humans too you know, and as humans they are fickle creatures. They will stick with you while the goings good and easy but make them work to stay with your newsletter and you're history as there are plenty more good newsletters they can get free.

Flashy animations, and new technology can be impressive, but put your customers first, and use the technology only if it helps them.

Doug Titchmarsh

Doug Titchmarsh runs several sites including and and publishes an e-zine for marketers online and off which you can get by sending an email to

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Boomerang Customers What You Might Not Think Brings Them Back

Writen by Anne M. Obarski

With all of the calendars and PDA's and lists I make I recently did a really dumb thing. I forgot my best friend's birthday and her anniversary. Both special days are back to back and I forgot both of them. After being friends for twenty years I feel old and stupid!

It could have been that I was packing my last child to go off to college and the constant comments like," You're going to be empty nesters", like I was a big, fat robin, were starting to wear very thin. Even having my youngest leave home was not enough of an excuse to miss two important days in my best friend's life.

So what did I do the minute I realized my mistake? I went shopping!

I drove to my local card shop in the strip center by my home because I knew that not only could I use my special coupon that I had, but that I probably could find something unique there. Just as I thought, as soon as I walked in I saw a display of "retro" Barbie items.

Not a big deal to you, but a big deal to me and I know, my best friend. You see, we grew up in that era and for a short time, I was time warped back to the sixties! I bought an armful of things! A special Christmas ornament, a photo album, a special gift bag, a card and a picture frame! I would have bought more but I was starting to feel a little less guilty at this point! I could just imagine her face when she opens the package. She and I both love "girly" things and this was the epitome of "girly"! I was so excited about these things that I decided right there in the store I needed to mail the package overnight so I could hear how much she loved each item!

As I carried all of my special "finds" throughout the store, I picked up an anniversary card and made my way to the counter. I was the only customer in the store at the time and I noticed that there was only one employee behind the counter doing what looked to be "busy work".

As she looked up she said, "Oh, don't you love this Barbie stuff?" Well, it was rather obvious. That was the end of the discussion. The conversation converted to what I call "parrot" talk. Do you have a "---------mark card?" Will that be cash or charge? Do you want the receipt with you or in the bag? Have a nice evening.

It was a simple $50 sale that had so much more potential. The average sale in a card store is between $8 and $14 so maybe that sale wasn't so average. Maybe she thought I had purchased everything I wanted. So what would make me return to that store? Why would I tell my best friend about the selection? Where else could I buy the same merchandise? When will companies learn the simple technique to bring customers back?

And how can they improve those simple communication skills.

I call this the Win-Win "W" words!

Simple words that create open-ended questions that the customer can't say "no" to but that also help to build a conversation! Employees should try to build a conversation with a customer in which each of the sentences they use begin with a "w" word; who, what, where, when, why and a non-"w" word, how.

The questions can be developed into either a service approach or a merchandise approach. Here are examples:

The Service approach:

What brings you in today?

Who is celebrating an anniversary?

When is the big occasion?

Where will the wedding be?

How are you planning to wrap this?


The Merchandise approach:

What type of frame will match their decorating style?

Who likes these fabulous scented candles?

When will you need these invitations for?

Where will you be sending this Precious Moments keepsake figurine?

How about buying a second charm to give as a stocking stuffer?

It is all about building a conversation by asking open-ended questions that will help you to learn more about your customer's wants and needs. Little children are great at this technique. They will ask you "w" questions until they are blue in the face because they want to know the answers to their questions. So should you!

I was just reading an article entitled, "Clone Your Top Performers", by Louise Anderson in a new publication called Incentive magazine. She states in the article that they worked with a bank that needed to increase sales at each branch. They taught the tellers to ask each customer an open-ended question about graduations, home renovation projects or other seasonal events. The teller would then relate a story from his or her own experience to build rapport. Based on this conversation, the teller might be able to refer the customer to the appropriate personal banker with a specific need.

Interestingly enough, when they "rewarded their people for adopting this pattern the bank averaged 26 closed sales per team member, versus15 previously- a 58% improvement!"

Amazing that the increases came simply from developing a relationship with the customer by asking simple questions that you would ask a friend or family member!

How could the sales associate at my card shop improve her sales per transaction with me? Did I mention there was a huge display board as I came in the store that stated, "If you buy $30 worth of Barbie merchandise you can get a special piece for 50% off the regular price?" Could she have reminded me of that??? I told her that I still had my original Barbie. Could she have said, "Why don't you pick something special for yourself, like the beautiful silver bracelet?" What special occasion do you have coming up that you could treat yourself to? My, how fast these ornaments have sold; you might want to get one for your Christmas tree this year! And she should have noticed that I bought a gift bag but no tissue. How easy would it have been for her to say, "I see you didn't get tissue for the bag? Did you see that great Barbie tissue with the shoes on it?" How about I grab you a pack to just add that last special touch to this gift for your best friend?"

I would have started feeling better about being "forgetful" right away!

This type of selling is built on the fast food sales strategy. "Would you like fries with that?" Sometimes I don't want fries. I don't want anything extra. But this time, I was in a "buying mood" and even a simple compliment like "What a lucky best friend you have", could have warmed up the conversation. Better yet, I would have thought, "What would I like to take home for me?"

You see boomerang customers come back to us because they know we know the right questions to ask!

Now where did I leave my day timer?



Anne M. Obarski is "The Customer Service Spy!"  As a professional speaker and trainer, Anne will work with your company to provide you with the clues to keep your customers coming back. Anne presents keynotes, break-out sessions and customized training, nationwide, in the area of customer service. You'll want her two new books, "Surprising Secrets of Mystery Shoppers" and "Real World Customer Service Strategies That Work".

For a limited time get her free, "10 Big Secrets to Giving Mystery Shopper Feedback and Get the Changes You Want", by faxing 724-941-4304 on your letterhead and write the words, BIG SECRETS. For more info go to: or email Anne at For high resolution photo of Anne, please visit 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Service Department Service The End Users View

Writen by Hubert Crowell

What is expected

Customers expect equipment to be returned in good working order in a reasonable time frame. They also expect all settings and adjustments to remain as they were when the equipment failed. The end user is reasonable, and they do not expect overnight repairs at any charge. They have been taught through experience not to expect to much. So it should be easy for a service department to exceed their expectations. A happy customer is one that is kept advised of the status of the repair and is aware of the cost before the repair is made so that they can make cost-effective decisions. I have found, in talking with customers over the years that the more that they understand about the problem the more they are willing to work with you. One must however, be careful not to disclose negative short comings of the company or of fellow employees. The best rule is that if you cannot say something good or positive about the company or a fellow employee, then say nothing at all. However mistakes do happen, even with the best employees. Mistakes will be made whenever action is being taken, we learn from these mistakes and try not to repeat them. Honest mistakes can be admitted without mentioning names and this can be a positive from the customers' view point. Mistakes are always best disclosed before the customer discovers them and brings them to your attention.

Employees should be encouraged to bring mistakes to their supervisors as soon as they are aware of them. This should not be viewed as a bad thing but a good action on the part of the employee, so that the mistake can be resolved as soon as possible. An employee that never makes mistakes may be too cautious and may not be productive, I would challenge this type of employee to be more aggressive and try new things. If your customers deal with more suppliers than you, then you need to know what the other suppliers are doing to meet their needs. End users are usually more than happy to share this information with you. This will help you in your decisions to replace or repair and to what level. You should always try to exceed their expectations. End users expect some startup problems with new products, but also expect fast corrections, this is where the need for fast and effective communications with the factory or manufacturer is required. When a customer calls in with a problem, they are grateful for any help they can receive. Any time the problem can be resolved by phone or e-mail you have exceeded their expectations. So a good service department starts with good phone support.

Experiences good and bad

The second call made by a customer relating to the same repair is a bad experience and should be prevented. If the stage of repair is phone support, the person providing the support should always try to be the person returning a call, not waiting on the customer, unless this is not convenient for the customer. There is nothing wrong in taking the customers' number or e-mail address and telling them that you will find the information and get back with them, just be sure that it is in a timely manner. After the equipment has been returned for repair contact should always be initiated by the service department by a phone call or by e-mail. E-mail is now preferred by most customers and should have a very clear subject line. Sometimes the subject line may be all that is required, letting the customer know that the equipment as arrived or that the repair is in progress. An employee that does not come in contact with the end user will be very reluctant to call or contact the customer. This fear can only be overcome by making repeated contact. I have found that even after years of phone support with end users, the more time that goes by without this contact makes it harder to start the contact again. Don't let an employee fall into the trap of just repairing equipment without becoming involved with the end user. The repair person should be contacting the end user anytime there is a question about how the equipment is used, settings that are in question or even to find out what the end user is expecting from the equipment. Many times the problem cannot be found, returned to the customer and then returned to the service department again for the same problem, only to discover that it is not the equipment but what is being expected of the equipment by the end user.

Promises not delivered

How many times have we promised a repair will be ready on a given date? If we make a commitment to a customer, then we should have a backup plan in place in case we cannot deliver. Have a service loaner available, or be prepared to replace the product with a new one or an equivalent restored unit. Employees should be encouraged to leave such commitments up to their supervisor, who would have the back up plans. There are always unknowns when making repairs, we may see a problem and make a commitment only to find another problem later which will delay the repair process. This should be viewed in the same way as an honest mistake or oversight and be brought to the attention of the supervisor and the end user, so that they can plan accordingly. One broken promise can wipe out all the promises delivered in the past to a customer. A good friend and coworker of mine had a saying "Some times you eat the bear and some times the bear eats you!" We can't always win but it helps when we have a backup plan or someone to call on for help. That fresh approach at a problem from another person is sometimes all it takes. Just don't take too long to ask for help.

Down Time

Down time is critical for a customer and when equipment arrives at the service center for repairs, every effort should be made to assure a quick turn around. Starting with the phone support, calls should not drag out. If progress is not being made on the repair, then the next step should be taken. Some companies have a Red Alert system for onsite service. A 4-4-4 Red Alert system works very well when working with an onsite service person. When the onsite service person has spent four hours on a problem and does not have the answer or know what must be done to resolve the problem, they must then call for technical support. Technical support then works up to four hours with the technician on the site. If both parties have not resolved the problem in a total of eight work hours, then the problem is escalated to a Red Alert stage. At this time sales should be advised so that they have the opportunity to work with the customer on non repair solutions. In some cases the problem is escalated to a senior technical person or maybe the factory. If repairs are normally done at the service center then the decision, by the phone support person, to return the equipment should be made within the first four hours or whatever time frame is acceptable in your market. If phone support is working with a customer doing their own repairs, then care must be taken not to proceed beyond the technical ability of the customer. This will vary greatly and will require skill on the part of your phone support person. When working for the RCA Service Company, when color television was just becoming popular, they had a 30 minute rule for the regular house call. If you did not have the answer to the problem within 30 minutes, you were required to call the bench person for assistance. They would give you a couple of things to try and if that did not fix the problem, you removed the chassis for return to the shop for repair. Taking 10 to 15 calls a day will really sharpen your skills. One trick I soon learned was to line up the easy looking calls for the morning (when possible as I laid out the route), and then I would save up some extra time so I could spend it at the end of the day working on a good problem on my own.

@ 2006 Hubert Crowell All rights reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyrights hereon may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means-graphic, electronic, taping, or informational and retrieval systems - without the written permission of the author.

I have been fortunate to be able to work in the service area during a time when equipment was still being repaired. It has been a rewarding field to see the results of your efforts appear before your eyes as you replace a blown transistor and the equipment comes back to life, or to see the expression on some TV owners face when the picture improves. There was also the joy of teaching others from vocational school television repair courses to new product training in big corporate training rooms. There have also been hard decisions to stay in service or move onto management. I choose to remain at the repair and training level and was able to find some companies late in my career that were still making repairs at the component level. For complete paper on The Service Department, Please visit my web site at:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bad Chemistry Can Quickly Dissolve Customer Relationships

Writen by Dr. Gary S. Goodman

I'm doing everything in my power to avoid doing any more business than strictly necessary with the car dealership where I leased my car.

Literally, they've been pushing away my business, since I got into my new ride.

Where I used to get free loan cars as a matter of course, they stopped subsidizing them, unless authorized under warranty repairs.

Their service department inconveniently requires appointments a full week in advance, and they're in the habit of losing parts that I've handed them that fall off the car, errant pieces of the luxury interior, for instance.

But the most problematic issue is how they've been changing their personnel, bringing in hardball communicators who speak in "mands." These include commands, "You MUST do X;" and demands, "You'll HAVE TO HAVE Y."

Indelicate at best, but usually defensive and destructive of relationships, mand-dispensers usually fly under the radar of anyone who can correct them. They disturb customers greatly, but seem to do nothing that is so obvious, that it can be detected easily.

What you do see is mysterious fallout from their word-bombs.

Customers drop-off all around the demanders and commanders, yet the offended don't feel they have a smoking gun to point to that sums up why they feel the service advisors upset them.

So, the behavior continues, until a consultant comes in and actually hears their language.

By that time, the damage has been done, customer relationships have dissolved, and irreversible losses have occurred.

And how do the defensive folks who caused these problems respond?

They blame their customers for being flakes, and worse.

It's their style.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service, and the audio program, "The Law of Large Numbers: How To Make Success Inevitable," published by Nightingale-Conant. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, a Loyola lawyer, and an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. He holds the rank of Shodan, 1st Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Customer Service For Nasa Education Programs

Writen by Lance Winslow

One of NASAs missions besides space exploration and the forward progression of mankind is to foster goodwill and educate the next generation of aerospace leaders. They do this in a number of ways and this is where the Shuttles Tires meet the runway.

It is very much about customer service. Who is the customer? Well the American People for one and lately the whole world, as so much is riding on what they accomplish up there and down here.

NASAs customer service is a good case study in public relations and how to propel our next generation. Their teams help in education of our young up and coming astronauts. In what ways does NASA give great customer service?

Well go take a look at their website and each page of important information has a link to more information and often a contact name. You can email them and they will respond to your questions, comments or ideas. I have and have been quite astounded by their excellent work.

In this case study we see that one of our nations greatest assets allows for dialogue, input and works with the public for the benefits of all. If more government agencies did this and offered this level of customer service we certainly would have more citizens praising their efforts. 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;

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Prove Yourself Every Time

Writen by Larry Galler

Last week a disgruntled salesperson told me about a long-time customer who stopped buying from her. "Gosh, I thought we were good friends; we even went out together socially. I never thought I would have to worry about losing her as a customer." As soon as I heard that last sentence, I knew that I had discovered a new business-medical condition, "SCS." Salesperson Complacency Syndrome!

Too often we confuse relationships. These people had a business relationship. In the course of that relationship, it sounded as if they became friendly. But somewhere the salesperson became complacent, feeling that, "my friend would never take her business elsewhere." I don't know what triggered the defection but SCS (Salesperson Complacency Syndrome) can be identified in three possible scenarios:

1. The Relentless Competitor

An aggressive salesperson worked hard to separate the buyer's personal relationship from her responsibility as a purchaser and strove to offer better service, terms, quality and / or price.

2. She's Mine Forever Unless I Really Mess Up

The original salesperson thought her "friend" was somehow "tied-to-her-for-life" and began spending less time and effort, giving the rival an opening.

3. It Will Be Overlooked

Somehow the salesperson didn't fix an error, extend a proper discount, or give the type of service she gave at the beginning of the relationship.

Every salesperson, when dealing with a long-term purchaser, must know about SCS and never become complacent, even if they become friends. One must remember to always give that client, friendly relationship or not, the best consideration, effort, and business perks because lurking just under the surface is a rival aggressive salesperson. That rival will pounce and take over the account eventually if complacency starts eroding the business relationship.

The problem is that it is so easy to become complacent. We work hard to get a new account and to impress in the early stages of the relationship. Then we work on getting more new accounts, then more. But slowly, as relationships mature, they also erode, because of time management pressures, production quotas, and complacency. Fight "SCS." Give your long-term clients your best, every time!

Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, "Front Lines with Larry Galler" For a free coaching session, email Larry for an appointment - Sign up for his free newsletter at

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Do Your Clients Really Think Of You

Writen by Laurie Hayes


Know Thyself - Socrates


I'd like to start this article with a test …

What do you get when you cross a Northern Canadian male, a 4x4 truck and heavy rain?

You guessed it! … Mud Bogging!!!!

That is how I spent my morning. My husband's new truck was too shinny, so he felt he had to get it dirty again just so he could wash it for the fourth time this week.

Of course, I won't say no to adventure so I hung up my leather coat and pulled out my bush jacket. Put away my fashion footwear and pulled on my rubber boots.

Then we hit the trails! I bit my tongue, possibly dislocated a shoulder and lost my sunglasses, the whole time yelling, "Yahooooo!"

We made it home in one piece but I think our mechanic is going to make some real easy money in the next couple of days. :0)

What does this have to do with business you ask? It's called balance … and if you don't have balance, work and business are a whole lot tougher and a lot less fun.

This week I created a rather enlightening assignment for myself. My coach and I were discussing the importance of knowing what kind of an image we portray to the world.

How we think others see us and how we are actually perceived may be worlds apart.

Being a successful business owner, or achieving success in any endeavor, has a strong connection to how others regard us.

Building a solid, successful business is highly dependent on the relationships we build with our clients and customers.

You can provide a top quality product or service, but if a potential buyer does not feel comfortable with you or a sense of trust or caring on your part, it doesn't matter how good your product is.

In order to measure how I was portraying myself to others, I created a questionnaire and distributed it via e-mail to my family members, friends, peer coaches, clients, and acquaintances.

I asked for feedback from people I have known for only a few weeks, and some who have known me for years.

I wanted to capture a good cross-section that would cover the many different relationships over varying time periods.

I asked them to list for me the first five words or images that come to mind when they hear the name, Laurie Hayes.

The results came quick and I received close to 90 different answers. Many answers were also the same and this greatly assisted me in determining what the top five images were.

There was a tie for first place between "caring" and "funny." Actually, I collected, "humorous," "funny," "very funny" and "funny as hell!"

This gave me great peace of mind knowing that if some day I decide to abandon entrepreneurship, I can always join the circus! ;-)

This exercise was wonderful in that it demonstrated I am on track with my purpose.

My goal is to move others to where they want to be by providing support and inspiring action while keeping it fun. And through the feedback received, I know I am on course.

This was a great (and very important) exercise. How many businesses have failed because owners have failed to solicit feedback?

Often times, people will not tell you where you are falling short. And if they do, are you listening to them?

Instead of sharing their thoughts, some may let the friendship fade, find a new supplier, or even though they continue to associate with you, not recommend you to anyone else although they have ample opportunity.

It is very important to ask for feedback so you can measure your position.

If you want to portray a certain image, ask for others' opinions. This will help you know if you're accomplishing what you set out to or to the degree that you could be.

You must let those you ask know that absolute honesty is desired and that you respect their input and candor.

You should also be willing to accept what is presented. If you don't like some responses or if you disagree with them, look at the math.

If several people have indicated, "uninterested," take this seriously. Do not allow your judgment to step in and decide that they are wrong.

Think about what role you play in creating this feeling for them, and then decide what you will do about it.

If this response has been generated by several of those questioned, how many others may not have felt comfortable enough to offer you the same feedback even though they share it?

How do you think you portray yourself to others?

How are you really portraying yourself?

Measure and remain open to the results.

If you want to achieve success, you need strong, healthy relationships and you play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining them.

Laurie Hayes, founder and visionary behind The HBB Source™ helps government and corporate employees break free of their jobs to live their dream of entrepreneurship. To subscribe to her FREE e-zine for valuable resources designed to create business success, visit

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Customers No

Writen by Ron Kaufman


We were visiting in Gisborne, an attractive small town near Melbourne, Australia.

Walking along the main street I saw a small clothing store with a very bold sign pasted on the door directly above the doorknob. It read:

CUSTOMERS NO… jam donuts, sticky buns, fizzy drinks, mucky boots, cigarettes, ice creams, gooey lollies, water pistols, fairy floss or half-eaten fruit in this shop. Thank you.

I understand the need to keep a shop clean, but the largest, loudest and strongest message in the sign is clearly:


In the window next to the door was an even larger sign:

UP TO 50% OFF!!

What an odd way to do business! The first sign scares customers away. The second begs them to come back by slashing prices (and profits).

Key Learning Point

Customers form opinions about every aspect of your business: your place, people, products, packaging and procedures. Anything not 100% customer friendly is a message that screams (or whispers): `Stay Away!'

Action Steps

What messages are you sending to your clients? Review your website, application forms, product information, customer service counters, returns procedures, etc. Actively seek out moments that are unpleasant, inconvenient, problematic, confusing, offensive or difficult to understand. Then go to work and smooth the way. Make sure every point of contact says it loud and clear: CUSTOMERS WELCOME!

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why You Should Always Honour Your Guarantees Even When The Customer Is In The Wrong

Writen by Debbie Jenkins

The Reason Why Direct Internet Marketers Have To Work So Hard To Earn Our Trust

A bad attitude to customer service can literally destroy your business.

So, I thought I'd share my response to what I read on an Internet Marketing Forum recently to illustrate my point.

It started with a genuine request made by someone looking to do the right thing despite having a frustrating run of luck...

"I've been asked for three refunds this WEEK. The product is a proven one that I've sold for 6 months and my refund rate is normally TINY. I have only been asked for four refunds ever. One of the reasons I've been given are crazy - He thought the product in question (which is about creating Income streams) was about Gardening - I kid you not!

I gave the refund because I couldn't think what to say to him, but it brought up the question of refunds? Should you ALWAYS give refunds when requested or do you sometimes argue the point?

So do you ALWAYS give refunds?"

One response which (due to the added fact that other people agreed with it) made me livid was...

"A seller on eBay was asking a similar question to yourself and the response was: 'eBay isn't a branch of Marks & Sparks, tell them to get stuffed!' Brilliant! I have actually used this response myself when dealing with timewaster buyers on eBay (minus the 'get stuffed' bit as I always try to be polite and professional) and it hasn't resulted in a tit-for-tat negative rating yet!"

So here's what I wrote...

"This is for all people who think it's funny to treat unhappy customers like a**holes!

I always give refunds when offering an unconditional guarantee - even when the mistake was "their fault". Unconditional is exactly that - without conditions. I also suggest talking first and getting clear exactly why they want their money back - you may be able to save the sale but even if you don't then all feedback is useful, right?

People who automatically assume someone who's made a mistake (or is unhappy) is a "timewaster" need to check their attitude. In fact maybe they shouldn't be in the business at all - because glib remarks, by people who should know better, telling unhappy customers (in one way or another) to "get stuffed" when they want their money back gives us all a bad name.

If your product/service is good, and you've described it accurately (giving samples where possible) then the number of refunds will be low. My experience is people who have a bad attitude when customers are unhappy get it (the attitude) because they have a higher return rate than they'd like - and think the world is full of crooks and timewasters. But maybe they should take a look at how they're describing their product and the product itself (they may unkowingly look like crooks themselves) before assuming the rest of the world is wrong."

So why am I so emphatic about this! Surely some people are crooks and timewasters?

Well you'd be right. Some people are. But many more are not.

If you recall back a few issues you'll remember I spent a lot of effort to help you hone a Bold Promise and Awesome Guarantee. Being able to offer an honest and audacious promise helps complete strangers to trust you and buy without risk of getting taken for a ride.

In fact, where Internet Marketing is concerned, a guarantee is essential. People are rightly wary until they know and trust you. It's so easy to set up a website that looks like it has something of value for sale and to take payments online that there are bound to be cheats and scoundrels out there happy to take your money without giving the promised value in return.

So a guarantee is a very powerful way to make prospective customers feel more secure in making the decision to buy from you. The problem is that scammers can make the same promises without having any intention of delivering on them.

This sorry state of affairs is why it's still difficult to gain trust from strangers on the web. And that's why it's essential to build a relationship using the pipeline and then to continue building on that relationship (again take another look at the pipeline) even if a customer later decides to call in your guarantee.

So, if we agree that our end goal is to have lots of paying customers and an army of cheerleading, evangelists telling anyone and everyone how great we are then you'll see it makes sense to be squeaky clean, to accept the odd loss and to focus on making your product and service great.

If you fail to play it straight (even when you suspect your customer isn't) then you'll be certain to completely trash your reputation faster than I can say, "Bankruptcy". The reason, quite simply, is that when a customer has a good experience they'll tell a handful of people, but when a customer has a bad experience they'll tell anyone and everyone who will listen!

This goes back to the fact that us humans will do a hell of a lot more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. We simply focus on the bad stuff. Plus, a story of how AWFUL something was is far more dramatic than one about how NICE it was.

So it's simple. If you make a promise then stick to it. If you don't bad things will happen. Let the Universal Law of "What Goes Around Comes Around" take care of customers who are genuinely cheating you. You can focus on all the good stuff, like profits, instead.

In summary:

* If you make a guarantee then honour it (even if you feel you're being wronged).

* Always try to save the sale by asking questions - even if you still lose the sale you may learn something to make a return less likely in the future.

* Don't take people calling you on your guarantee personally - that's what it's there for. Be gracious and you may even gain a new evangelist where you first thought there was a problem.

'Dangerous' Debbie Jenkins

(c) Copyright 2005

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