ACE Your Next Customer Service Moment
by Kate Nasser | 8 Comments »
I received an ad in my email box for a customer service training video. Even after 20 years of teaching customer service, I still learn new things. I took a quick look at the sample footage. What I saw was fake, neutral, and difficult for the customer.
They advise you to give an irate customer something specific – like a form to fill out! Tell an irate customer to fill out a form? If you were the irate customer, how would you respond? I laughed so hard at this video I could barely find the esc key to stop the footage. And this training video is for sale!
Now that I have stopped laughing, I deal you the ACE for top notch customer service: ACE – authentic, committed, and easy.
Authentic. Customers want you to sincerely care. Sincere caring shows in your authenticity. This is why I rail against call center scripts. Scripts sound company-focused not customer-focused. Authenticity shines through when you paraphrase the customer’s request, use a tone of voice that reflects interest not script reading, and validate the customer’s situation including his/her emotion. If you are face-to-face with the customer, then your body language as well as your courteous words also reveal your level of authentic caring.
To come across as authentic and caring, it helps to first be able to read the customer’s needs.
Action steps: Take this well-known EQ (empathy quotient) test online free of charge to assess your ability to read others: http://glennrowe.net/BaronCohen/EmpathyQuotient/EmpathyQuotient.aspx. I was thrilled with my very high score. Can you imagine The People-Skills Coach scoring low on EQ?
If you want to test your ability to read others’ authenticity, here is a twenty question quiz based on the work of Dr. Paul Eckman: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/index.shtml
Committed. On one of my many trips, I was driving to a smaller city. I had a terrible headache and no medication. I spotted a large mall and went in to buy some Tylenol. Thankfully the first thing I saw was an information booth. So I asked the young woman, “Where is the closest drug store in this mall? I have a terrible headache and have never been here.” Her answer in a flat voice was: “I don’t know (IDK).”
My unspoken reaction was “Then why are you in the booth? Get out of the booth!” Even if it was her first day, she could make an authentic attempt to help. Customers judge your commitment from your “first” — first greeting, first response, first facial expression, first tone of voice, first attempt.
Long pauses, IDKs, blank stares, attention to other people/things show lack of commitment – i.e. not caring. What would you add to this list as signs of non-commitment? I would love your comments below.
Easy. Although customers’ expectations vary, there is one thing every customer celebrates – an easy experience.
Here are 5 things you can do to make it easy for your customer:
- Listen and speak from his/her perspective. http://tinyurl.com/cjbdhl
- Quickly paraphrase his/her request and take action.
- If you don’t know the answer, find the answer.
- Use words that focus forward not back.
- Spot his/her personality type and treat them that way. http://tinyurl.com/ddfhgq
I would love your comments and insights below. You are welcome to share the info in this article with others if you will credit me and the URL as the source.
These stories and tips are just a small sample of what I deliver in my sessions on customer service. Tap me to speak at your next customer service event or for training to ACE every customer service moment.
From my experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach
©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email email@example.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
This was great! I agree 100% and loved ACE.
Well put Kate and great points. The key one being easy, Imagine how much smoother this world would run if 30 % of the population worked this way. I doubt it is even close to 10%. Business’s eveywhere should be addressing this issue, they have no idea how far a little customer service will go. At times I feel it is a fading talent. Any corporation that would invest a few training hours in proper customer service would be floored by the resutls. I really wish they could see that. Personally I have been customer service orientated from my first job, and have found success in many avenues, and a lot of that I learned myself. People run business, and just as well the wrong people will drive it right into the ground. The world needs More Customer Service Taining!
The biggest reason for horrible customer service has to do with companies confusing two key words: possible and preferable. While it is POSSIBLE to provide “customer service” via technology; it is PREFERABLE to provide the service in person. Possible has replaced preferable to the detriment of society as a whole. While people say they can “connect” via technology, the truth is we are the most socially disconnected generation. You cannot comfort someone in an e-mail. It is an alarming trend; but, we each have the power to change it by refusing to become slaves to technology.
Great post Kate.
I’ll add my $0.02 cents to the authentic part. While it’s nice to ditch the scripts, I would add to this and caution customer support reps from speak informally depending on the situation. Especially for B2B costumer service, some customers want to appear like a fortune 500 company, and therefore speak professionally like a large corporation. More importantly, they want to be responded to in the same manner. As a result, I recommend listening to your caller or email response close and respond in a tone and manner that matches their own.
Sadly, videos like that are everywhere and unfortunately there are also many “customer service consultants” who make these types of recommendations too!
I agree with ACE and would add an extra “C” for communicate. So many issues are resolved by simply communicating with your customers; leaving them in the dark is the worst thing you can do. I would even say that ACE is dependant on communication.
Finalyy, in response to Daniel, yes, some companies want to act like they’re in the Fortune 500 but we deal with people. Companies are a fiction. If you treat people with respect, listen to them and then act on what they need, you’ll win every time.
Great high-content post!! Totally agree.
You and I compete with Every Motivational Speaker on the Face of the Earth who claims to be a customer service expert, and sometimes just for fun, I show my audiences some of the advice on their websites (no names) – the looks on their faces are priceless :).
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