Tag Archives: customer service training

Enthuse Your People to Delight Customers with The Revelation Conversation.

Business leaders are happy because their customers are satisfied. But that’s not good enough. Customers feel that service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave once they find something better or less expensive. So don’t serve to sell to customers. And don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to delight them.

And just exactly how do you do that? In his book, The Revelation Conversation, Steve Curtin will tell you. But he doesn’t expect you to train your people.

Training is top down, one-way, “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the how and what of customer service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs your people on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, Steve is speaking with you as a coach, not at you as a trainer. He recommends that you educate your people. Your education is interactive and frequent, so much so, that you remind them every hour of every day. 

 Your education gives you the how, what, and WHY Of customer service. You not only give your employees job knowledge and skills, but also the PURPOSE of customer service. Your daily reminders will inspire your people to focus on the purpose of delivering exceptional customer service. Your education will develop YOUR PEOPLE. And the purpose of your employees is to serve to delight your customers. In the end, your people will CARE for your customers.

Reminding yourself and your people of Steve’s stories, examples, and encouragement, you will enthuse them to engage with customers. Your customers will be delighted and happy, intent on returning, raving to others.

Be sure to read The Revelation Conversation and take action to enthuse your employees to delight customers. And when you do, everyone’s lives will be enriched, literally and figuratively.

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Enroll Now in Customer CARE University.

We don’t offer customer service training. Training is top-down, one-way “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the “how” of service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs students on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, enroll in Customer CARE University. We don’t have trainers or instructors. We have mentors and coaches. Our education classes are interactive. Our education is the “how” and “why” of Customer CARE excellence. As mentors, we educate you with customer CARE actions to practice your interpersonal skills. You will learn and appreciate the value of telephone etiquette, service recovery, and customer CARE. After graduation, as coaches, we remind you with our customer CARE excellence strategies. With suggestions, recommendations, and encouragement, we empower you and your colleagues to develop YOURSELVES. Ideally, all of you will be enthused and energized to engage customers. You and your colleagues will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connections, the more memorable the experiences, the more loyal the customers. And everyone’s lives will be enriched.

In Customer CARE 101, our passion is to CARE for you and your colleagues.

  • COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any customer CARE information that you and your colleagues need or want to know. We will listen empathetically to your suggestions, concerns, and complaints.
  • APPRECIATE your role, responsibilities, and actions, and your suggestions and recommendations.
  • RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for you and your colleagues’ role-playing acts of customer CARE.
  • EMPOWER you to act on your own to do what is right for you, your colleagues, your customers, and your business.

In Customer CARE 102, we will educate you on how to CARE for your customers:

  • COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to the customer. Listen empathetically to understand the customer’s questions and concerns.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to you and your business.
  • RESPOND compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
  • ENRICH the experiences of every customer.

And, yes, we educate everyone. If we’re not caring for customer CARE representatives, we better be caring for your colleagues who are.

When we create a great experience for you as much as we do for your colleagues, you will earn the loyalty of both colleagues and customers. And soon, without your focus on profits, profits will grow, for you and your business, literally and figuratively.

Enrollment starts now. Tuition is free. But you must attend to learn each of the classes of the two courses or you will fail.

Enroll today. You won’t be sorry. And neither will your customers.

DISCLAIMER: Customer CARE University classes are my posts for either Customer CARE strategies for customer service people or Customer CARE actions for customers. You are always invited to “attend” the classes. Our discussions have been very interactive with open and honest opinions and complaints from some who have disagreed with me. With each interaction, I hope we can agree to disagree or agree. Whether you have the opportunity to “attend” regularly or can only “attend” when you can, I encourage you to remind yourself or your colleagues who interact with customers, when you say, “Let’s be GREAT out there!”

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Customers are paying for their experience, not your service.

Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!” Tom Peters. Customers are paying for their experience. It’s ALL about them, NEVER about us. To them, perception is reality. Image is everything. Feelings are facts. And they buy with emotion and justify that decision with reason. 

Some customer service people will believe that customers will understand and be empathetic to the new employee. I get it. Customers will get it, too, but many are not going to like it. Customers are paying for THEIR experience. And they seek the best value in their experience, so, someone saying, “I’m in training” is, bluntly, a poor one. When someone new doesn’t say anything, the customer feels that the person must be knowledgeable and the problem is difficult. But that’s OK because the problem is the problem. But when someone says, “I’m new here,” that’s not OK, in fact, dissatisfying because the problem is not the problem. The problem is the person. They will leave and rant to others via social media. Customers thinking about coming to your company will decide otherwise because of his rants. It doesn’t have to be a customer they know. If you say you’re great, that’s advertising, but on social media, if they say you’re poor, that’s the truth. People are talking about you, whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not. You can give them a story that “We’re new here,” or be new here but not tell them. You decide.

The customer is paying for his experience, not your company’s service. Customers don’t care how many new people you have hired. They don’t care if self-service works for you or not. And customers don’t care if you think scripting will or will not work. What they care about is how big you care about them. New employees or not, self-service or not, scripting or not. To a complaining customer, you are not a representative of the company. You ARE the company. So own it. Be the CEO of the moment. DO take it personally. DO take it professionally. Just DON’T take it home. Simply apologize. DON’T offer an explanation. Customers feel that your explanation is an excuse. Customers want action, not excuses. Just do whatever it takes to fix it fast.

And when all alternatives don’t work, DON’T fire the customer. Simply ask him to resign. “I’m sorry but we aren’t able to resolve your problem. Could I recommend Brand X for your solution? I could contact them if you like.” Both are happy. And both will remember. The customer is happy because he has a  fix. He has an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And loyal customers will return.  Ideally, he will come back to you. The competitor is happy because you recommended them. Later when one of them cannot resolve the problem for the customer, they will recommend you. A Mutual Admiration Society of Sorts.

So you decide. Are you telling customers you are or have people who are in training? Or do you simply not say anything and do whatever it takes to fix the problem, even if it means going to a competitor? Whatever you decide, customers will decide, too.


Filed under Customer Service

Don’t offer customer service training. Develop your people with customer CARE education.

Don’t offer customer service training. Training is finite, usually only one to several days. Training is top-down, one-way “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the how and what of service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. In the end, training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. The mission is to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, have customer CARE education. Don’t have trainers or instructors. Have mentors and coaches. Your education is interactive and frequent. Your education is the how, what, and, why of service excellence. As mentors, educate your students with role-playing customer CARE (Communicate, Acknowledge, Respond, Enrich) actions to practice their soft skills. Your students will learn and appreciate the value of appearance standards, telephone etiquette, service recovery, and customer care. After “graduation”, as coaches, remind the people interactively, frequently, and continuously of your customer CARE excellence strategies. With suggestions, recommendations, and encouragement, empower your people to develop THEMSELVES. Your people will be enthused and energized to engage customers. They will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And everyone’s lives will be enriched. Your passion is to CARE for everyone, our people and customers alike.

And, yes, educate everyone. If you’re not caring for the customer, you darn well better be caring for the person who is.

When you create a great experience for people as much as you do for customers, you will earn the loyalty of both. And soon, without your focus on profits, profits will grow.

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When It All Comes Down to Business, It’s “People First”

For many years, there has been a stranglehold of the “Profits over People” mentality in business. Senior executives care about top-line revenue, product and labor costs, market share, the stock price, bottom-line profits, and even their competitors, more than their people. Listening to the sweet cha-ching sound of profits, these bad bosses do not hear their grumbling employees and complaining customers many hierarchical rungs below. Even if bosses could hear, they would wear noise-canceling headphones, oblivious to the employees’ concerns and customer complaints. And “Profits over People” bad bosses would demand “My way or the highway” to the employees. Bad bosses didn’t care much about employees and employees could care less about their bosses or customers. 

Today, instead of focusing on “Profits over People”, envision “People First” as the solid foundation for everlasting business success. One caveat is “Employees First”. Managers will always see people as “employees”. Despite preaching “Employees First”, senior leaders would always have the rank and file employees “first”, on the bottom of the ladder, well below the leaders.

Recognizing “People First”, leaders will CARE for their people.

  • COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any information that their people need and want to know. Listen empathetically to the people’s suggestions, concerns, and complaints. Express compassion with their recommendations and encouragement.
  • APPRECIATE the important roles, responsibilities, and efforts of their people.
  • RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for individual and team achievements, accomplishments, and acts of service to colleagues or customers.
  • EMPOWER people to make the right decisions for themselves, their colleagues, customers, and their business.

Whether it’s the turmoil of the pandemic, Skimpflation, or The Great Resignation, businesses will invigorate the New Normal with the “People First” culture. No longer are people taking second or third seats to customers or profits.

This cultural transformation of “People First” and the leadership commitment to CARE will enthuse and energize people to be engaged with their colleagues, customers, and the business.

When we create a great experience for people as much as we do for customers, we will earn the loyalty of both. And soon, without our focus on profits, profits will grow.

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Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Employee Engagement, Leadership

Karen Hertzberg: Improving Customer Retention Through Great Customer Service

Customer loyalty is not by offering discounts, upgrades, or subscriptions to repeat customers. Real customer loyalty is built on service so great that customers return again and again, raving to others along the way. This week guest blogger Karen Hertzberg offers three QUI strategies to improve your service to keep customers coming back. You can read more about Karen at the end of her post.

What’s better than gaining a new customer? Keeping an existing one.

That’s why a high customer retention rate is an important goal for many businesses. Excellent customer service is one of the best ways to achieve this goal.

Customer retention supports long-term growth because it creates a loyal customer base. When these loyal customers are supported through great customer service, then they don’t have a reason to seek out other businesses.

Why Does Customer Service Impact Retention?

The quality of your service or product helps determine your company’s success, but a positive customer experience truly solidifies a strong relationship with your customers.

When a customer encounters great customer service, they trust that your company will treat them right no matter what issue pops up. This, in turn, makes them more likely to stick with your company the next time they need your products or services. You’re a safer bet than another company whose customer service quality is unknown.

Many business owners focus on building their customer base over delivering excellent customer service. But customer service shouldn’t be an afterthought. Your business is going to make mistakes sometimes, and solid customer service is the only way to make sure those mistakes don’t come back to haunt you.

How Do I Know if My Customer Service is Hurting Customer Retention?

Asking customers to complete a survey after a customer service experience will show you where your weaknesses are. Many times, businesses think they’re doing the right thing but they don’t have a solid understanding of what their customers actually want.

Let your customers tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are. For the best results, make your survey quick, easy to understand, and offer a reward, such as a discount on their next purchase, for completing the survey.

What Are Some Customer Service Strategies I Can Implement Today?

Not sure where to start to improve your customer service quality? Try some of these strategies below to guide your business. 

Write a Mission Statement

If you’re ready to rebuild your customer service strategy for the better, start with writing a mission statement. You should always strategize with your long-term goals in mind and a mission statement helps keep you focused.

Set Reasonable Expectations

While it’s tempting to brag about your excellent customer service, it’s far better to pleasantly surprise your customers than to disappoint them. That doesn’t mean you should set low expectations for your customer service. Just be mindful about making claims that your customer service team might not be able to live up to.

Be Honest About Mistakes

Don’t try to cover up any mistakes when you’re dealing with a customer service complaint. If something went wrong, your customer knows it. They won’t appreciate your dishonesty. 

If you acknowledge your mistakes and do something to make it up to your customer (a future discount, refund, etc.), this shows your commitment to improving the customer experience.

I hope these tips help your business prioritize the customer experience to build up your customer retention. If you’re looking for more information about customer retention, the visual below debunks some customer service myths to set you on the right path for long-term growth.

Karen Hertzberg is a writer and digital content marketer from the Seattle metro area. Along with consulting on content strategy, she creates effective how-to and thought leadership content for several B2B and B2C companies. Empathy is her superpower, and she’s obsessed with clear, thoughtful written communication.

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Filed under Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Training

Great Service is Great Theater. An Encore.

A while back, I wrote an article entitled “Great Service is Great Theater”. Today I want to offer another article about the very same subject, an encore performance so to say. So, here it is:

There are some who say that they, as customer service professionals, have been trained to act the part to be happy to serve. They believe they are acting. They claim they can never “be the part” to be happy to serve. Here is what I say:

Movie actors like Scarlett Johansson, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, and Jack Nicholson act to be happy, sad, scared, scary, or angry. Yet, we, as the audience, believe they are genuinely real. The actors may “act their part”, but they are so good that we, as the audience, believe they are real. Whether actors are acting the part or believe they are real is not important. It is never about the actors. It is always about the audience.

The best movie actors have rehearsed before they are watched by their audience. Even theatrical actors rehearse before a live audience. We, as customer service professionals, can train or rehearse before we connect with our customers, our live audience. But, more often, we are interacting as we go. So we need to be better than actors who rehearse. We need to be so good that our customers believe we really are happy to serve. So be GREAT out there!

We, as customer service professionals, act to be happy to serve our customers so much so that they believe we are genuinely happy to serve. It doesn’t matter if we act it or not. What matters is if our customers believe we are genuine. When it comes to customer service, it’s never about us. It’s always about them. Like the movie and theatrical actors, we have to be Magnificently Boring! We need to consistently deliver a “better than the average experience that customers expect” so tediously repetitive that we feel it is boring, but to the customer, at every moment, we are Magnificent! Customers have an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And loyal customers will return again and again, raving about us to others along the way. Consistency builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty builds our business. So we deliver consistency Magnificently!

When it comes to exceptional service, be Magnificently Boring! And always be GREAT out there!

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“Satisfaction Guaranteed” Does Not Lead to Customers Guaranteed

When you are working in customer service, you have been happy that your customers leave satisfied. You have sold them a product or service that meets their wants or needs. Or you solved their problem for them. You were happy because, in the end, they were satisfied.

But their satisfaction does not guarantee their return. The good news is that your satisfied customers didn’t complain. But the bad news is that your customers also didn’t rave about you to others. And the very bad news is that some customers don’t come back as they seek alternatives that they think will be as good as you but might be less expensive.

You don’t want to earn customers who are merely satisfied. They have to be more than satisfied. They have to be happy. They have to be ecstatic. They have to be raving to others about how great you were. 

And in order to do that, you have to do more than satisfy them. First, personalize their experience. Get to know who they are and understand how they are feeling. Create an emotional bond with your customers during your interaction. Don’t just take care of them. Care for them. Then make a difference. Do a bit more than they expect. 

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

After you are done, they will be more than satisfied. And they will be coming back again and again, happily raving to others along the way

To earn loyal customers, you have to do more than be good enough to satisfy them. Be GREAT out there!

P.S. If you lead employees in your business who make your customers happy, then you have to do better than to satisfy every employee. Be GREAT in there, too.

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Facemasks, safety signs, and hand sanitizers won’t keep your customers

Facemasks, door signs, floor decals, partitions, and hand sanitizers won’t keep your customers. Such safety protocols in response to the pandemic are expected from your customers. While failing to implement them will cost you customers, maintaining those standards will not guarantee that you keep them. Your competitors are doing the exact same thing which means what you are doing is average, heightened like everyone else, but still average. And … wait for it … nobody raves about average. Customers don’t rave about a business that simply meets their expectations. Nor are they loyally bound to them. With these safeguards, you have simply changed a negative experience to one that is neutral. But what are you doing to move the experience from neutral to memorably positive?

CARE for your Associates first. Hearing about hospitalizations, the struggling economy, and massive layoffs every day, your associates are still anxious and concerned about their jobs. Reassure them by your actions that their leadership team CARES. Communicate. Appreciate. Recognize. Empower. Serve.

Serve your associates by asking at the end of each interaction, “What can I do for you?” And act on their suggestions to make your associates feel as happy working with you as you want your customers to feel about doing business with you.

Re-orient your Associates to the delivery of the customer experience in what is now the “not-so-new-normal”. In the first weeks of the pandemic, you were focused on introducing all the new protocols. Over the last few months, your associates consistently follow the safety guidelines, from temp checks to facemasks. Take time now to remind them of the principles of delivering exceptional customer service. Emphasize that since your customers cannot see their smiles, they need to use other body language, except handshakes and hugs, their words, and tone of voice to convey a warm welcome. Remind them to practice active listening and responding with empathy. Do they remember the forbidden phrases that distract in customer conversations? Make sure they know the difference between taking care of the customer which is a transaction and really caring for the customer, a relationship-building interaction.

Seek feedback and then act. You may know 10-20% of your customer complaints via your customer surveys. Your customers know 100% of what displeases them and your associates do, too, since your customers tell them every day. So ask your team directly, “What are you hearing?” Then act on their feedback to eliminate those pain points. Be sure to involve your associates in defining solutions to remove these dissatisfiers. Without their involvement, you will not earn their commitment to care for your customers.

Become a storyteller. Three things can happen after customers do business with you. They can say nothing because you gave them nothing to talk about. They can rant about you to others because they experienced such poor service that they want to make sure no one else makes the same mistake. Or they can rave about you. And if you want to have your customers tell stories about you, you have to give them a story to tell. Involve your associates to define key points in the customer experience where they are empowered to create memorable small “wows” so the story can end, “And they lived happily ever after.”

QUI TAKEAWAY: Remember nobody cares about how good you used to be before this pandemic. They only care about how good you are now. And now changes every day. You need to do the same.

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Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service

Three Low Cost Ways to Improve Customer Service

Thank them jpeg

Recently in a LinkedIn  group, one of the members asked the following question: “The global economy is slowing down, but you’ve been asked to do the impossible: Control costs AND improve customer service experience. How can you do it?” While I commented within the group, LinkedIn limited the space allowed for the response so I wanted to elaborate here.

Here are three low cost ways that have worked for me in improving customer service.

Create a Customer Satisfaction Investigation (CSI) team. Isn’t it criminal to take a customer’s money and then not deliver to meet his expectations?  This team, with at least one representative from every department, should meet at least once a week to review customer feedback.  Like a CSI team, the purpose of the team is to review all the details of each negative customer experience to see if they can find out why it happened. If you do not have a survey process, ask your employees to document and forward any complaint to the CSI team. For every customer who complains, 26 others didn’t say anything (Lee Resource, Inc.) and simply walked away. No one can afford that kind of customer churn. Once identified, work fast to eliminate the dissatisfier. You cannot begin to satisfy customers until you remove all the potential dissatisfiers. You have got to remove them from negatively affecting future customer experiences.

Continually remind your team of the importance of customer service. One of my favorite quotes is from Samuel Johnson, “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” Day One and Done customer service training is simply not enough. It’s amazing how much of the first day of new hire orientation is spent on defining the rules and restrictions, usually required by the legal department, that, if not followed, will result in termination. While that information is important, consider the overall message you are giving new employees at the end of their first day. Balance the message by describing the empowerment processes that employees can use to exceed customer expectations and offer specific stories when employees went above and beyond for your customers. After onboarding, continue to reinforce that message with customer service tips and stories via email, screensaver messages, and periodic refresher customer service training. As many of the luxury hotel chains and fine dining restaurants known for delivering consistently exceptional service, conduct a fifteen-minute daily briefing that reinforces your brand’s core values and service standards.

Recognize and celebrate those who deliver great customer service. Too often managers focus on identifying an employee’s service deficiencies. These “areas that need improvement” are usually only conveyed to the employee at the annual performance review. Instead celebrate throughout the year the stories of employees who have created WOW moments for their customers. Create a booklet of customer service stories to be distributed on Day One of your onboarding process. Every new employee is a sponge of company information on the first day. Let them soak in the stellar reputation of your company as built by your customers’ perceptions of your employees’ exceptional service.  To reinforce that Day One feeling, frequently post or distribute via email the positive customer comments. Send a handwritten thank you note to the home of the individual employees who created a memorable moment for one of your customers. You can be assured they will share proudly that note with their family. If you want your employees to make it a habit to deliver outstanding customer service, you have to make it a habit to thank them when they do.

QUI TAKEAWAY: When you systematically remove the potential dissatisfiers, continually remind your employees of the importance of customer service, and habitually recognize and celebrate the stories of exceptional service you will increase dramatically the value of service as perceived by your customer.


Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Leadership, Training