super

Superior Customer Service: Think Care Not Guilt


I hear some customer service reps, agents, and analysts — even leaders — say that you shouldn’t “We’re sorry” to customers because it means “we’re guilty.” There is even one consultant who has written a book with this same idea. This is a dangerous mistake. It’s a myth.


Sorry doesn’t mean guilty. It means we care. In fact if we are thinking about who’s guilty, we aren’t even in the zone of delivering superior customer service and customer experience.


Don’t picture this …


Superior Customer Service: Image is words Mea Culpa

Superior Customer Service: Sorry Doesn’t Mean Guilty Image via Istock.com





Picture this …


Superior Customer Service: Image is Balloons w/ Sorry Words Celebrating!

Superior Customer Service: Sorry Means We Care!

Grateful for both images from Istockphoto.com.


Superior Customer Service: Think Care, Not Guilt!

Superior customer service is never about guilt. It’s about responsibility, desire, and passion to serve and to care.

  • Sorry doesn’t mean guilty. When we offer condolences at a funeral, it doesn’t mean we are guilty. Sorry is one of the many ways to express empathy. We’re sorry for your _________ doesn’t mean we’re guilty of it.

  • When customers are upset we are responsible (not guilty) for the less than satisfying experience they had. Let’s make it incredibly great. Studies show that outstanding service recovery skills often create some of the most loyal customers! Many customers believe that some mistake is bound to happen and they are wowed by great empathy and service recovery skills.

  • Thinking that sorry means guilty says we are thinking of ourselves instead of the customer. We have misinterpreted the customer’s outburst as an accusation against us. It isn’t! Customers want care and resolution. Let’s give them unadulterated full out “we’re sorry” care and full commitment to resolve.

  • Customers can get upset for many reasons. Don’t analyze whether they are valuable reasons or who’s at fault. This is wasted time and effort. Don’t play neutral either. Go all the way and show them true empathy! Empathize emotions don’t analyze them.

  • Humility is not humiliation. Humility allows us to put the customers emotional needs ahead of ours. We are the professionals. This is not humiliation which is the driving emotion behind the guilty/sorry debate. The debate is useless. It sidetracks us from the main goal — delivering superior customer service and retaining that customer.

  • Live with accountability not blame. We are responsible for delivering superior customer experience. This is a far cry from being guilty when we miss the mark.



Remember, if customers are talking to us, they’re interested in our business! We have a chance to show we care. A chance to wow. Don’t blow this chance by withholding empathy. Give a caring “we’re sorry”. It’s not a shameful “we’re guilty.”


Be glad to apologize if customers have less than a stellar experience. It is a chance for us to reaffirm commitment with true empathy. It’s a chance to show just how much we care about them.


Short 2 minute video with inspirational message for leaders and teams to deliver superior customer experience!


Turn away from the guilt mindset. It doesn’t belong in superior customer service. Thinking of guilt stops us from doing just that.

Re-frame the discussion. Create a customer centric culture of superior customer service and the ultimate success through care. It’s easily doable and very valuable!


From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Post:
Leadership: Breed Accountability Not Blame
Superior Customer Service: 5 Ways to Stay Calm AND Caring w/ Upset Customers

©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results. Kate also invites you to connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. She welcomes your interaction!

Super customer service has little room for regret. What we say to customers and how we say it leave lasting impressions. We can wound them with scars that last forever or we can use caring people skills to avoid laying an egg.

Super Customer Service People Skills: Image is Blue Egg w/ Letter R

Super Customer Service People Skills: Reverse Regret

Image licensed from Istock.com

In tough moments with customers, how can we speak with great people skills instead of later regretting and hoping for that elusive second chance?

Super Customer Service People Skills: Image is Book Cover

People Skills: The Things You Would Have Said Image of Book by Jackie Hooper

We can take a lesson from everyday life!

Author Jackie Hooper has written a wonderful book, The Things You Would Have Said, compiling letters from people who regret having said bad things or regret not having said caring words.


As I watched the feature on the book on CBS Sunday Morning and heard people reading the words of regret for what they said or hadn’t said, I immediately thought how we could use this lesson for super customer service.


Responding with care instead of defensively reacting is much easier IF we are thinking about the after effects. Ask yourself what you wish you’d said to a customer before you lost them — just as Jackie asked people to do for those they treated poorly.


Instead of regretting, envision what you would write in an “I wish I’d said” letter of regret and say that instead of the defensive snips. Super customer service requires people skills that deliver care even in the toughest moments!

  • Super Customer Service People Skills – No Regret!
    • Find empathy by imagining regret.

      The stress relief you feel by snapping at a customer is short lived. It is quickly followed by regret and feeling for the customer as they receive your outburst. Reverse the regret process and feel the empathy from the beginning. If you feel stuck, adapt don’t attack.


    • Imagine the caring you not the ego-controlled you.

      Many regrets are born of the need to be right, the need to be better than, the need to be selfish. In other words, regrets are born of the ego.

      Imagine yourself being great in service not needing to be right. Imagine yourself sharing control not having control.

      Those who deliver super customer service, revel in helping others to succeed and thus they succeed. Their desire to care overrides their ego. They are humble enough to learn from the customer and don’t feel humiliated by the customer. They don’t say things to customers that they will regret for they envision receiving that very same care.


    • Prevent regret.

      Treat customers well the first time else there may not be a second time. Defensive thoughts and communication lead to regret. Stay open. Show empathy. Explore the customer’s view. Empathy doesn’t mean you agree. It means you matter, we matter, this matters! Through empathy you find how to wow each customer with care.




    The old saying, the customer’s always right, has led some to rebel and claim it isn’t true. From there, they justify confronting the customer and saying things to prove the customer wrong.


    The debate about that adage is out-of-date and quite worthless. What we all need to remember is that we may not get a second chance from customers we’ve treated badly. Think about it: Why would anyone pay money to be treated with impatience, rudeness and disrespect?


    Empathize, explore, and stay open to customers’ views. Live no regret about customers for there may be no chance to write that letter and get them back.


    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Other Super Customer Service Posts:
    Super Customer Service: Use Great People Skills to Deliver vs Defend
    Customer Service Defined to Be Unforgettable
    Super Customer Service: Be a Buoy
    Customer Service People Skills Create Profitable Connection!

    ©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Super customer service experience starts with more than a vision statement. It starts with a vivid picture of what is super customer service experience. To picture it, lead it, and create it, leaders must engage their organization in imagining the wow.


    Super customer service experience: Image is Artists's Pallette

    Super customer service experience: Picture it, Lead it, Create It Image by:sirwiseowl

    Grateful for Image by:SirWiseOwl via Creative Commons License.


    If you want to create super customer service experience, don’t start with a lecture. Start with games of imagination.  There is so much focus today about games to engage and motivate yet many still focus on the competitive aspect of games. 


    Instead, engage employees in games imagining what super customer service looks like, feels like, and delivers!

    Super Customer Service Experience: Picture It!

    Leaders fear that if they ask employees to imagine the ultimate customer service, they may come up with ideas that will bankrupt the company. Fear not. Boundaries and rules exist in life. That doesn’t mean we stop living. Games can have boundaries/rules and that came make them more challenging!  Just make sure that the rules aren’t directives.  If you are telling them what to think, it’s not a game of imagination.



    When I run these games with teams in customer service workshops, I am incredibly psyched by the tremendous service experience pictures they create. It is an honor to be in the “front row” seeing this amazing pictorial. Leaders engage in the games not as leaders but as equals. They are lifted up by their teams imagination.  The seeds of customer service innovation emerge.


    Super Customer Service Experience: Lead It!

    Now that the ideas are flying, you must lead them to keep the spirit and energy going. From imagination to assessment to creation, resist your need to apply metrics to it right now. It’s way too soon. The teams are innovating the actions of customer service experience AND their attitudes. Measure them at this early stage and you shut the innovation down. Be a Buoy of Inspiration & Balance.


    Super Customer Service Experience: Create It!

    By now the teams are soaring with spirit. They feel that they are the engines of great customer service experience. They will implement the seemingly smaller changes with ease. As you all consider the larger innovations they have imagined, continue to engage them in the creation. How can you do this when they are on the phones?


    Rotations off the phone to participate in creating the new world are smart and cost effective. Include people from all aspects of customer experience not just the service aspect. Together they create teamwork, buy-in, and accountability. Leaders don’t create great customer service experience from above. They do it with teams! Teams can even create some of the metrics. These metrics will make sense, fuel service excellence, and everyone engaged to deliver excellence.


    If you want to truly inspire your customer service teams to a super level of performance, get them to picture it, lead it with you, and create it everyday. Want more ideas? Just let me know!


    How do you picture super customer experience?


    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    ©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Super customer service experience is about positive feelings but leaders grouse “we can’t build a business on the randomness of feelings.”  Well in super customer experience, feelings are not random. We just need to look in the right place.

    The feelings are behind the impact – coming and going!


    Super Customer Experience: Feelings Are Behind the Impact! Image via: Istock.


    Capture the Feelings Behind the Impact!

    Customers come for one of two desired feelings: ease their pain and/or experience gain. What we do results in one of two feelings for the customers — positive or negative.

    • The Impact of Their Problem.

      Instead of getting caught up in just the details the customers speak, we need to hear the impact of their problem or request. When a network is down and the customer can’t do their work, it’s the impact of this void that causes the feelings. Understand the impact and we capture the feelings that tell us how to deliver a super customer experience.


    • The Impact of Our Approach.

      At every connection with the customers, our approach — conversation, empathy, processes, design, decisions, and actions — affect the customers’ pain or gain. When we first understand the impact of their problem, we can choose appropriate actions for a positive impact and super customer experience.


    • The Impact of Previous or Repeated Trouble.

      It’s easy to deliver a super customer experience when there has been previous or repeated trouble — if we hear the feelings of frustration behind the impact. The customers are craving relief from pain and confusion; the relief we give is amazingly positive!


    • The Impact of Heart-Based Service.

      If we live a narcissistic culture and focus on our success, our approach and connection often increases the customers’ pain and reduces their gain. As we focus on our procedures, we leave them stuck in frustration and far from the gain they seek. As we push self-service to reduce costs, we alienate those who need interaction to work with us. As we ignore their suggestions for improved service, we tell them that our view is more important than their needs. From this we lose them to the competition who sees the pain and void we left behind.

      If instead we approach every aspect of customer experience with a culture of heart-based service, we meet their expectations by relieving their pain or delivering a gain. We earn their trust, gratitude, and repeat business. From the heart, never fails with customers.

      [A special thanks to executive coach Lolly Daskal for the phrase "heart-based". She inspires thousands around the globe with her heart-based leadership programs and her weekly leadfromwithin chat on Twitter.]





    Leaders often ask me: What is the one thing that everyone in the organization should do to deliver super customer experience?

    Listen for the feelings behind the impact and take the approach that relieves the pain and delivers the gain.


    This year, I will have many workshops and sessions on this very topic. Join in the learning and receive the gains!






    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Posts:
    Free Your Mind to Give Superior Customer Service in Difficult Moments
    Leading Superior Customer Experience: Turn Off the Power

    ©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Various comments on my last post — Don’t Fire the Customer, Fire Yourselves!showed that many use the phrase “fire the customer” as a display of power.


    Leadership for Super Customer Experience: Turn Off the Power! Image via Istock.

    In the aftermath of abusive customers or the challenge of clients who constantly change their minds, some leaders and business owners use that damaging phrase to validate the organization’s position and use it to re-motivate frustrated and demoralized teams.

    Yet, the power playing approach leaves a trail of trouble for the teams, the customer service culture, and the company’s reputation and brand.

    Turn Off the Power for Superior Customer Experience!

    Power struggles establish the dynamic as right vs. wrong.

    Customer experience is about perspective and connection.



    Power words, like “firing”, conquer & crush.

    Customer experience is about awareness, empathy, uplift, and success.



    Power-based motivation like “employees first, customers second” sets up a win/lose mentality.

    Superior customer experience is about win/win!



    “When you lead and serve for power, get ready for a power failure!” There is no greatness in either/or.

    Turn off the power struggles, power words, and power-based motivation. If you want to use power, give it to your customers to give you free feedback — communicated with basic respect.

    Turn on the listening and learning. Turn on creative exploration for effective problem solving. Turn on innovative thinking for customer satisfaction. Turn on the honest diplomacy to set limits in abusive situations. Turn on the joy of delivering superior customer service.


    Lead a culture of excellence for improved performance based in continuous learning — not in power.

    How will you ignite the customer service greatness in your organization?

    I welcome your perspective in the comments section below. And I am ready to help you the way I have helped countless others in the last 23 years.


    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Posts:
    Leadership success: Think Balance Beam Not Mountain Top
    Super Customer Experience: Customers & Us in Harmony

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    There is a phrase becoming popular in the customer service world that threatens both the customers and all of us in the profession. It’s a phrase we need to decry and banish from our vocabulary especially in the powerful world of social media.

    The phrase we need to remove is: “Fire the customer!”



    Superior Customer Service: Remove Threat of One Phrase Image by:Quinn Dombrowski

    This threatening phrase:

    • Diminishes our integrity instead of building trust
    • Undermines our caring purpose rather than succeeding through care
    • Broadcasts selfishness and greed vs. radiating greatness
    • Declares customer service to be a power struggle instead of a partnership
    • Makes all customers who read it more defensive instead of cooperative
    • Teaches a new generation of customer service professionals a skewed view
    • Projects a tug-of-war mindset rather than a winning collaboration




    Are there times when we can’t meet a customer’s need or expectation? Sure.
    Yet how we part company — and speak about — echoes our brand throughout the global reach of social media.

    For those business owners proudly using the phrase “fire the customer” all over Twitter, Facebook, and beyond, it’s worth a moment to consider an alternative.

    The times I have not been able to continue with a customer, I have said:

    “Although I cannot meet your needs and must pass on this opportunity, I wish you success …”



    I am not “firing the customer”, as the current threatening phrase likes to power tout. I am firing myself! How we say things in difficult moments affects the future of our brand.


    Current customers and social media tell future customers what we believe; they wonder how we will treat them. Every tweet, every post, every statement tells the world what we think of customers as a whole.

    Customers talk about us too; what they say is actually up to us!



    I vote to give superior customer service — not to be superior over customers. What do you want customers to say about you and your brand?


    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Posts:
    Free Your Mind to Give Superior Customer Service in Difficult Situations
    What Do We Want Customers to Feel, Experience, and Remember?

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Sales and customer service leaders create super customer experience possibilities when they pave the customer’s road with transparency. Poor communication, hidden built in charges, surprise required purchases at the end of the sales cycle risk the sale and damage trust and the brand.

    Here’s a story of a recent transaction that damaged the long term customer relationship and 5 ways to ensure this doesn’t happen to your business.


    Super Customer Experience on the Road of Transparency Image by:FutUndBeidl

    Image by: FutUndBeidl via Creative Commons License.


    The Story


    A long time customer of a specialty check printing company got an email noting a limited time offer – two boxes of checks for the price of one.

    The customer completed all the online forms and then the website gave an error message. It directed her to “Call customer service at 800 …” The rep who answered asked for all the information and then quickly mentioned a $3.95 special handling fee. The customer replied, “you are going to charge me $3.95 because you have to enter this order after the website locked up?” The rep suddenly said, we can waive that for you.

    The rep, now speaking even more quickly, noted the total for the order and said “can we deduct that right now from your account”? The amount was not accurate based on the two for one offer so the customer said “no”. The rep noted she had included the fastest delivery so the customer could get the checks right away. The customer had specified free bulk shipping on the website and told the rep that is what she preferred.

    The rep quoted another new total and again said “can we deduct that right now from you account?” The customer, now feeling annoyed, once again said no for it wasn’t the correct amount using the two for one offer. The rep reported that the total included $1.85 for a premium register which was automatically included. When the customer told the rep that she didn’t need a premium register, the rep replied that it has to be included.

    The customer then said, “This is the worst marketing and THE most manipulative promotional offer and for that reason I’m out. Forget the order.” Customer then hung up. She then decided she will switch companies once she has used up her current checks.

    End of story!



    5 Smart Business Tips for Super Customer Experience

    The irony of this story is the basic arithmetic. It was actually a good financial offer since one box of specialty checks was $20.00. Had the company offered, “Buy one box of checks and a premium register for $1.85 and get a free box of your favorite checks”, the customer would have been thrilled.

    1. Travel the Road of Transparency. Customers today are very aware of their choices. Many find online price comparisons before they pick your website to purchase your product. Because other products are one click away, be clear and transparent about prices to keep them from clicking away to a more trustworthy company.

    2. Market With Gratitude; Don’t Sell From Greed. In the story above, there were so many positive approaches the company could have taken in the promotional offer. “As we approach Thanksgiving ….” or “Here’s a special offer to our long time customers …” Connect the offer to the heart and show what a great financial offer it is!

    3. Upsell With Understanding. Confusing the customer may get you a few sales yet it can lose you many customers who get annoyed and walk away. For example, if you want to encourage higher price shipping, note the tracking advantages and then ask the customer what they prefer. Educated customers buy your offers if your offers are truly great.

    4. Shine With Transparency in All Channels. When customers have trouble with one of your sales channels that they prefer, it’s crucial you shine in the other sales channel they tap. In the story, the customer had two disappointments before she called — her preferred channel (website) stopped working and she now has to use a channel she doesn’t prefer. When she finally gets through to a rep, she experiences confusion, pressure, and the persistent greedy request to deduct the money from the customer’s account right now! Is it any wonder the customer walked away for good?

    5. Thrive in Being Memorable Not Manipulative. Creating memorable moments with the customer in the sale, service, and use of your product or service works every time. It echoes the positive of your brand through social media and personal referrals. It draws customers to you for more of the positive and takes your business far into the future. Manipulation doesn’t draw customers back to you and it echoes the negative to points you can’t even track or measure.



    How far do you want your business to go? Are you in it to create a memorable brand that people hold dear and choose every time?

    Keeping customers through positive memories costs far less than finding and getting new ones who haven’t read the blogs and social media with reports of murky questionable dealings.

    The customers are going to make the decision of what and where to buy. Why not win their hearts with honesty? Something to consider in this age of instant information!


    What do you think? Do you have a customer service story of transparency (or lack of it) that illustrates your feelings on this topic?

    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please first email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    I frequently write about certain words or responses that can ruin an interaction or quickly destroy the quality of the customer care you provide. In this post, I address the seemingly harmless yet harmful practice of telling a customer where you’d rather be.


    Customer Care: A Harmless Harmful Response Image by: MikeBaird



    The Brief Story
    A heating repair technician visits a customer for a yearly preventive furnace cleaning. When the technician is done, the customer pays him and says “Have a nice day.” The technician’s response: “It’s never a nice day when I have to work. I’d rather be fishing.”

    On the surface, we might think it’s a very harmless response expressing a shared human desire to be relaxing instead of working. We tell ourselves that even customers would say this.

    When we step back and let it echo in our ears, it rings out as an emotionally unintelligent response that tells the customers we don’t care! Customers do business with those that show them interest, care, and skill. They do business with those they like and trust.

    As leaders we most likely wouldn’t hire people who stated they would rather be doing something other than interviewing with us. Why would the customers embrace and be loyal to a company whose employees didn’t want to work with them?

    Other Harmless Harmful Responses

    What Do You Think of These?

    You’re a good customer. We have many who complain.

    Oh he doesn’t know anything; he’s a trainee (referring to a colleague).

    It’s too bad you weren’t here yesterday. We had a sale.

    My office manager IS in the office. She’s just avoiding the phone.






    From Harmful to Harmonious
    What if we captured every moment of connection as a loyalty builder? The human spirit is drawn to be with those who show great interest in connecting and delivering on their needs. Trust builds from those repeated care-filled moments.

    In order of the the examples above, turn harmful replies into harmonious bonds:

    1. It’s great to see you. Your furnace is all set for the winter. Call if you need us. You have a great day too.
    2. We are thrilled that you like our service. Please let us know your feedback on anything so we can continue to meet your needs.
    3. I am training my colleague so we will be even stronger as a team.
    4. Would you like to receive alerts on our next sale?
    5. Very sorry you couldn’t get through to us. I am very happy to assist you. What can I do for you?



    Let’s imagine and capture the tremendous power of saying: “I love my work and am very happy to be speaking with you.” I have had customers at different times say to me: “Wow you must have had terrible stress getting here in this bad weather. I bet you wish you were home.” My answer was, is, and always will be: The best part is being here with you.


    Every moment with our customers is a moment of loyalty building care — whether they are happy at the start or not. We must invite them to a banquet of excellent service and care with every word we speak.

    From the heart never fails. Our professional people-skills keep the doors of customer care filled with current and new customers who value that big difference between us and those who would rather be fishing!


    Question: Is there another harmless harmful response that you would add to this list and replace with something better?

    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Posts:
    The Heart & Core of Super Customer Experience
    The Emotional Intelligence That Feeds Super Customer Experience

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    After a recent webinar I delivered on turning difficult moments into positive customer experiences (via Zendesk), this question came via email and ultimately inspired this post.

    How do you stay positive when you know the customer is taking advantage of your company?

    Super Customer Experience: What Do We Want Customers to Feel? Image by:JoelMontes

    Image by:JoelMontes via Creative Commons License.


    In this case, the customer service rep was referring to hotel guests. He was not suggesting that he knew of customers stealing from the hotel — just taking advantage. Certainly when customer service reps (CSRs) or agents have data showing the customer is doing something illegal or harming the company financially, it is important for them to bring it to the attention of management.


    Otherwise we must ask the question: what does taking advantage mean?

    • Always asking for non-standard options and treatment?
    • Pointing out where service has failed and receiving remedies?
    • Expecting, requesting, and receiving personalized service?



    In truth, this was the third time a customer service rep (agent) had asked me what to do when customers take advantage. It is very often a sign that leaders have trained the teams well in standard operational procedures and specific exceptions yet never focused deeply on the critical mindset for super customer experience. This standard focus is risky.

    To the customers, it is never about being treated in a standard fashion. It is about being treated the way they want to be treated. It is about the super customer experience mindset — satisfy customers to their individual satisfaction!

    Hotels like Ritz-Carlton have embraced this and translated it into the $2000 rule culture that every employee understands. Now chains like Hampton Inn have a similar mindset with a 100% satisfaction guarantee (or the customer doesn’t pay).


    Only when customer service teams understand the super customer experience mindset, can they see customers high expectations and demands as the pathway to profit instead of demoralizing moments with crafty people taking advantage of the company.


    To develop this critical mindset in customer service teams, the key question to ask them is:

    What Do We Want Customers to Feel and Experience With Us?

    Would your teams come up with answers like:

    • Understood
    • Valued
    • Trusted and respected
    • Cared for
    • Uplifted
    • Adored
    • Protected
    • Pampered
    • Ecstatic
    • Excited and wowed
    • Tooled, supported, and successful
    • Productive and contributing (especially for internal customer service)
    • Relaxed
    • Trusting
    • Encouraged to ask for new services
    • Or ________________?



    Ask the teams. If you want to develop a super customer experience culture, this is the key question. Compile a customized list that is specific to your company and then translate it into every aspect of customer interaction. (If you are going to outsource your customer care, make sure the provider can deliver on it!)

    This key question must precede the popular practice of customer journey mapping. Else what are you mapping?

    Openly discuss what you want the customer to feel and experience and make sure procedures promote it and metrics don’t limit it. Don’t assume team members know they are supposed to wow the customer.

    The companies I have helped in this regard now experience greater employee engagement that wows the customer. It is the pathway to profiting from the customer experience.




    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related post: Do You WOW Customers With Every Exception for Exceptional Customer Experience?

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    At the core of super customer service and customer experience is the heart of any company and its employees. When the company operates from its heart to the heart of the customer, it is likely to deliver in an outstanding way.

    Then why aren’t there more instances of super customer experience?  In this National Customer Service Week 2012, it’s a question worth exploring.

    How can we ensure that customer care radiates during every moment of the customer experience?


    The Heart & Core of Super Customer Experience Image by: Helen K

    Image by: Helen K via Creative Commons License


    The Heart & Core of Super Customer Experience
    When customer care consistently radiates from, in, and through every customer experience, it closes the gap between the customer and the company; it strengthens the bond of trust and builds loyalty. Keep customer care beaming …

    • Outside In Not Inside Out. Think of the customer’s view at every moment from design of products and services to the sales and follow-up care. What will their reaction be? Let this approach guide all your design efforts. Let it shape your redesigns to keep pace with a changing customer demographic. Remember, the customer experience is from the outside in to your company — not from the inside out!

    • Inspire Employees to Care Before You Train Them to Smile. When employees care about your customers, they build the brand through memorable moments. When you inspire that caring, authentic smiles appear from their hearts. An authentic smile changes everything for it draws the customer back for another helping of your brand of care.

    • Clear the Fog and Open the Doors. Confusion breeds discontent and customers see it as another sign that you don’t care. Review and improve every communication, documentation, and design cue from the customer’s perspective. Then provide easy access for any questions that occur due to system glitches, unpredictable customer demographic variation, and randomly occurring problems. Many bad customer experiences start with confusion and end with the blocks and hurdles to easy answers. Count the number of hurdles you ask customers to jump through and you will find the spots they jump ship.

      True story: I recently received a duplicate bill for my mortgage very close to the due date. I was worried they hadn’t received my check. The duplicate bill also had many other pages enclosed and I had no idea what this was about. When I called to get a quick answer, I was trapped in a poorly designed telephone menu (VRU) that had no escape button to get directly to an agent. My stress and anger increased. I didn’t need confusion and an unintelligent VRU blocking my access. When I finally got to an agent, she confirmed they had received my mortgage payment. She said duplicate statements had been sent out in error. Then she said: “Oh, by the way, you are eligible for a home equity loan.” (That’s what all the other pages were about.)

      Well if I wanted a home equity loan, I wouldn’t give them my business. They confuse me with their mistake, make it difficult for me to clear up the problem, and then try to sell me something. They are selfish, self-absorbed, greedy, and uncaring. Customer experience and trust score: 0!


    • Close the Gates of Service Hell and Open the Portals of Hope. Turn a droning procedure-driven customer experience into an uplifting memorable moment. For example, if you want to sell home equity loans to current mortgage customers, don’t trap them in call queue to listen to pre-recorded interest rates. Deliver care-filled messages that tap their desires and fulfill their needs with your best offer.

    • Let Them See You Are Willing to Sweat, If Necessary. Most every customer knows that problems will arise. That’s life. The question is, who will sweat it out — you or the customers? Sure the best service should seem easy and seamless to the customers. Yet when a problem occurs, watch the customer loyalty soar as you work hard to recover. It’s a trust builder for it beams out “we care”.

    The heart and core of customer experience finds the source of the customer’s concerns and needs before it delivers a solution.

    It connects to the customers’ request for care through the spirit as well as the tangible actions. It leaves the customer better off after than they were before.

    It heals, satisfies, and transforms the moment into something more than a successful transaction.




    How have you done this today? Please share your customer experience walk-of-fame moments in the comments section below so we can all celebrate the heart and core of super customer experience. Each walk-of-fame moment provider gets a free fun toy for the celebration!


    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Posts:
    10 Winning Beliefs for Superior Customer Experience
    The Emotional Intelligence That Feeds Super Customer Experience

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    As large companies come to see that customer service is the new marketing, they succeed when they rethink how to give a super customer experience.

    Tip: Give a hoot. To give a WOW customer experience, we must first care about it and the customer’s view.

    A recent customer experience illustrates this clearly. It shows how simple steps can reshape the experience from frustrating pain to memorable ease.

    Give a Hoot to Give a WOW Customer Experience Image by:soonerpa


    Image by: SoonerPA via Creative Commons License

    Give a Hoot to Give a WOW Customer Experience

    The Story
    Recently Cablevision announced to subscribers that every television in the house would need a converter box. Their marketing highlighted that the boxes are free and would provide better service to all. I picked up the boxes that came with coaxial cables and remote controls to operate everything. They also provided two booklets on how to hook everything up.

    It’s what Cablevision didn’t explain or provide that showed it didn’t give a hoot and no WOW customer experience.

    • The instruction packet for the remote talked only about itself. When I couldn’t get a remote to program to one of the TVs, the packet didn’t say what to do or how to use it in conjunction with the remote that came with the TV. I found out only after contacting a call center and speaking with a scripted rep who insisted on reading the booklet to me instead of understanding my exact need. If they had simply put in the packet: “If you cannot get this remote to work with your TV, use your TV remote for on/off and volume control and our remote to change the channels.”

      Customer experience tip: Prevent frustration and wasted time with well written instructions that include what to do when things don’t work!


    • No help for connecting VCRs. Yes, I and many other people still have VCRs and use them. When I picked up the boxes I asked the rep for help. She was wonderful and was able to find hookup diagrams on her computer screen. Cablevision had the information. However, there was no place for her to print it out and Cablevision had not thought to include it in the pre-printed instructions. I scribbled some notes as she described what to do. Nonetheless, it was far from a WOW experience. Cablevision’s official position: VCRs are not our boxes!

      Customer experience tip: Think about how customers will use the products, foresee their struggles, and ease their way.


    • Hidden bad news. After I hooked up the Cablevision boxes, TVs and VCRs, I could play tapes but could not program the VCR to record TV shows on future date/time. With no information in any of the Cablevision instructions, no knowledge from the call center, I turned to the Internet. I found out, much to my dismay, that the Cablevision boxes are not multi-channel capable the way the VCR is. So I cannot set the VCR to tape a show on a certain channel at a date/time in the future. I did find a cumbersome workaround — program the VCR to record channel 3 and leave the cable box tuned to the channel you want to tape.

      Customer Experience tip: Be transparent. If the product you are now selling takes away capability the customers have always had, say so. They may not be happy yet you won’t leave an additional bad memory about wasting their time as they search for the answer.


    Give a hoot to give a wow customer experience. Think outside your company’s box about how the customer uses your products and services in their lives.

    You may not be able to provide all the answers yet your efforts will show you care enough not to waste their time.

    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Post: Do You Wow Customers With Exception-al Service?

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Behind super customer experience is emotional intelligence (EI) that captures the hearts and minds of customers and their business. This is good news for all types of businesses from the large corporations and mid-size enterprises on the rise, to the struggling new start-ups with limited resources.

    Capture the essence of emotional intelligence and you have a fail-safe guide to super customer experience.

    The Emotional Intelligence for Super Customer Experience Image by: Istock.

    Image by:Istock.com

    The Essence of Emotional Intelligence for Customer Experience
    In product design, web site usage, mobile access, and customer service interaction, customers are consciously and subconsciously deciding if it’s positive for them. Emotional intelligence about their needs and views feeds business success.

    • Helps not hurts. Products, services, and interactions are assumed to cause no harm. If interacting with your business is so time consuming or stressful that it subsequently impacts the customers’ work, sleep, or happiness, you lose them. This is the emotional intelligence behind treating even the irate customers extremely well.

    • Is Easy. People love ease — especially when they are paying for it. Even customers who love status perks over other customers, want and expect the experience to be filled with ease. Jumping through hoops to use products and services is more than a momentary bad experience. It registers in the subconscious and compares to better experiences with other companies. Unless your business is a monopoly, make it easy or lose them!

    • Shows mega-caring. This is not sickeningly sweet cloying attitudes and fake smiles. Mega-caring uses and shows the essence of emotional intelligence. It listens to the customers’ needs, elicits their expectations, detects the mood and delivers the WOW.

      It adapts to their communication and listening style instead of trying to control them. Mega-caring adapts the solution whenever possible instead of sticking blindly to procedures. It thanks the customer with every phrase you utter and every step you make.


    • Is supremely competent. When customers receive service, your reps’ competence builds sublime trust and makes current and future interaction seem easy.

      The opposite, arrogance, kills customer experience with self-absorption and emotionally unintelligent patronizing insults. So if you have a super expert with an arrogant attitude, be careful of making excuses for the behavior. You’ll lose customers who aren’t impressed or moved by arrogance.


    • Is happily accountable. Before customers buy they are already thinking — what if I have a problem? How will they treat me? Your emotionally intelligent reputation of integrity, sincere apologies, and accountability for remedies relieves the fear of purchase and drives the business.

    • Makes a Difference. Companies whose products, services, and customer interaction change life for the better illustrate emotional intelligence at its fullest. It doesn’t have to be the slickest new idea or most expensive five star service. It simply has to touch the customer in some way that leaves a positive memorable mark.



    Leaders, when your design teams resist customer feedback and redesigns, or tired reps want to know the logic behind treating irate customers well, and numbers-only managers reject qualitative input, focus on the essence of emotional intelligence.

    Companies who get and embrace these simple truths continue to flourish even in tough times.


    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Post:
    Customer Experience Superstars Celebrate the Giving
    Our Future is Behind Every Customer

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Leaders and teams strive for excellence in customer service to deliver a super customer experience. There is truly no best — only continuous improvement.

    So I often ask my clients who lead customer experience functions — can you and your teams ace customer service recovery? It’s in that difficult moment that the customers see your company values, intentions, and character. It is the critical time to show customers you care about them and achieve success with and through them.


    Leaders, Can You & Your Teams Ace This Customer Service Recovery Moment? Image by:torbakhopper

    Image by Torbakhopper via Creative Commons License.

    One Moment Where Many Stumble Needlessly

    High level leaders, mid-level managers, and customer facing reps all falter needlessly in customer service recovery when they confuse reassuring the customer with defending their organization.

    At the moment customers are telling you how your organization has failed them, any statement you make praising your usual quality of service puts customers in the shadow of your insecurity. This is not the time to talk about how great you normally deliver. You didn’t.

    1. Admit the fault straight out and you give the customer admission to a new celebration of trust. “We fell short and we can do much better for you.” This clearly shows the customers you care about them. You will falter with: “We usually give higher quality service”. The customers think: So what? Your response is self-centered. It asks the customers to listen to your organizational analysis instead of shining the light on their importance.

    2. Do not highlight the wonderful abilities of reps who delivered bad service. Leaders, managers, and supervisors experience emotional discomfort when customers criticize their reps’ behaviors. As a result, they stumble in customer service recovery as they outline the outstanding abilities of the reps. This does not reassure a customer. It questions the customer’s perception and judgment! It also sheds doubt on your judgment and standard of care.

      I have witnessed so many leaders, on the fast track of excellent service recovery, make a detour at the last minute with praise of the agent’s ability. During service recovery, stay focused on the customer — not your reps, nor your organization, nor yourself. If you want to highlight the outstanding abilities of team members, tell the team members during coaching not the customers during service recovery.


    3. Highlight your standard of excellence and show it to them. When your organization has failed customers, apologize and reinforce that the care they received is nowhere near good enough. Then show them the high standards in action. This is distinctly different than explaining how you normally do better. The first delivers the goods now; the second waffles in the past.


    During service recovery, any focus you place on your organization’s past or usual behavior reinforces the bad image that the service failure created. It will always seem defensive regardless of the tone of voice. It highlights your insecurity and unwillingness to see the truth of the moment.

    See the customers’ current emotional and service needs and deliver. You re-secure the trust and leave proof and a lasting memory of your standard of customer care. Actions make caring words come to life.


    Action: Run some role plays in your organization once a week and you will build the psychological conditioning to handle every these situations in the moment with ease and excellence. I am hear to help you as I have done with so many.

    What customer service recovery blunders have you experienced when you were the customer? Please add your stories to our learning.

    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

    Related Post: A Winning Response to Complaints About Your Teammates

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Asking customers to jump through hoops to buy or use our products and services is a risky strategy for super customer experience. Even people who want to buy status want it to be easy for them to obtain and definitely to use.

    Using jargon with customers is one way we ask them to jump through hoops. It is hardly easy or enjoyable for them. It has no allure or magnetic pull for repeat business or loyalty.

    In fact using jargon requires a huge leap of faith from the customer to trust that we care about them at all. It is a customer experience disaster as it withholds from the customer the two things they need to resolve their issue or to make a purchasing decision — clear answers and care for their needs.


    Customer Experience: Using Jargon Requires Customers to Make Huge Leap of Faith Image by:PaulEvans-RG&B

    Most everyone agrees that jargon is an obstacle to super customer experience. It’s like broadcasting Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem as you greet a world of potential customers:

      Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
      Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
      All mimsy were ye borogoves;
      And ye mome raths outgrabe.

    Yet I witness this jargon blunder everywhere! Two short stories illustrate Jabberwocky of words and purpose.




    Story: Ready to Buy, Whoops Good Bye!
    My accounting software is very old and hard to run on new computers. I decided to bite the change resistance bullet and buy the popular Quickbooks. Converting to it and setting it up is a bigger challenge than I anticipated. I found a certified local expert in an online directory that emphasized her great teaching ability. I called, ready to buy her services and get this project done.

    As she spouted out her accounting version of the Jabberwocky poem, I asked her several times to no avail, “what do you mean?” She was clearly knowledgeable yet not clear to me. Her repeated lapse into jargon made me wonder if she cared about my business success at all. She withheld the two things I needed – care and clarity.

    Corrective Step: Try your typical response on a relative or friend whose not a specialist like you. If they don’t understand it, explain it until they do. Then use that approach with customers.


    Story: Listening All the Way to Jabberwocky
    As I narrowed my search for a contractor to replace the windows in our home, I spoke with one that my neighbor used and highly recommended. He explained the process, the technical terms, and displayed a good commitment to customer service.

    Then it happened. When I asked if I could get the windows without “Low E” (a feature that makes them super energy efficient yet gives the windows a greyish hue), he replied, “Well that defeats the whole purpose of replacing the windows.” Oh really, I replied? Is that my purpose?

    He look stunned. After I explained my purpose for replacing the windows and for requesting no Low E, he apologized for not listening for my purpose and needs.

    Oddly enough, this contractor didn’t speak with Jabberwocky — he listened with it. His assumptions scrambled what he heard and killed the clarity of his response to me. By the way, he asked me to ping him if he slipped into listening Jabberwocky again. (Nice touch!)

    Corrective Step: Clarify assumptions to deliver a super customer experience.


    Our assumptions, jargon, and scripted approach widen the gap between us and the customers. If the gap is great, the customers don’t have the trust needed to work with us or buy from us.

    As we ask for this leap of faith through our jargon, the customer may well leap to another company with the hope of finding someone who connects, cares, and delivers.

    Close the gap with clarity and care. Otherwise, the sequel to today’s bad customer experience becomes the prequel to tomorrow’s lost sale.


    What is your team’s Jabberwocky? Acronyms? Abbreviations? New meanings to old words? How will you all fix it?

    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Post:
    Customer Experience: Harmony Builds Trust

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer experience. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    Recently on Twitter, I tweeted the Amex findings that 33% of customers are likely to switch brands or companies because of a rude or inattentive customer service rep (Source: American Express 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer).

    I was quite surprised when someone tweeted back, “That means 67% wouldn’t leave.” He didn’t say what he meant by it but I doubt he was practicing arithmetic. Was he implying that incivility doesn’t matter if the majority of customers don’t leave because of it?

    It’s a dangerous philosophy. For a solid reputation of super customer experience — civility, caring, and positive people-skills are foundational not optional. Whether it’s the first impression or the tenth interaction, uncaring reps will surely have a negative effect on the business.


    Super Customer Experience: Are You Betting Against Civility? Image by:Jimmy_Joe



    Super Customer Experience: Are You Betting Against Civility?

    • Selection and Hiring. If you posed that statistic when interviewing job applicants, what responses would you consider indicators of positive customer service attitude? If they replied like the man on Twitter, would you put those job applicants in the top group of potential hires? If yes, you may be betting against the importance of civility.

      If instead it would be a warning flag to you, you are on the path to building a solid foundation and culture of super customer experience.


    • Tolerance and Denial.  If one of your customer service reps was rude to a customer and the customer wanted to speak with you in management, would you speak with them?

      In some call centers, the reps are instructed to tell the customers a manager is not available. These call centers are betting against civility.

      How does it make you feel as the leader when you hear that your team members were rude to customers? What would you say to these customers besides “we’re very sorry”? Would you be tempted to defend your your reps with excuses of how busy they are, how good they generally are, and so forth?

      If you believe that civility is the very foundation of relationships with customers, there are no excuses or defenses. Verbalizing your company’s absolute 100% commitment to customer care will re-secure the trust of these customers. No other metric matters at that moment.


    • Indifference and inaction. Do you, as leader, believe that you can influence the behavior of customer service reps? One day I told a business owner how badly one of his employees had treated me. His answer was: “Well that’s just the way she is.”

      In that one short sentence, he neutered his position as leader. He either did not believe he could influence behavioral change or didn’t want to. His indifference led to his inaction and he bet against civility. He lost.

      In the face of negative customer feedback, do you often think “You can’t make everyone happy” or “You can’t change people.” Thoughts guide actions and these thoughts might lead you to bet against civility.



    There’s a smarter bet with much better odds. As a leader, not only can you influence behavior — you must if you want civility to be the culture throughout your organization.

    Create a winning customer experience culture by betting on and building the foundation of civility. It welcomes, delivers, and sustains your business.

    Hire reps who desire civility and believe in it. Train them to shine at it. Coach them to nourish and retain it — and the customers.


    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Post:
    Super Customer Experience Leaders: Are You All Attitude Ready?

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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