Intelligent Help Desk Blog

Break Down the Techno-Jargon to Improve Your Customer Service

Posted by Meredith Estep on Wed, Mar 02, 2016 @ 01:59 PM

dreamstime_8433634-1.jpgWhen you work in a particular industry, you are probably exposed to the jargon of the field every single day. Words get abbreviated and technical terms become a part of your everyday language.

 

However, customers do not have the same exposure to that technical jargon every day. When words that they do not understand are used to explain issues or policies, customers become frustrated and even angry. 

 

Thankfully, we have tips to help you teach your staff how to communicate with customers without using the techno-jargon that can become such a source of frustration today.

 

Define the Techno-Terms

 

Before you can train staff to avoid technical terminology, they need to understand which words and terms fall into that category. Your employees may spend so much time throwing around techno-jargon that they may not realize they are doing so.

 

At your next staff meeting, take some time to brainstorm a list of terms your customers may not be familiar with. It may be technical product names, the process involved with ordering the product, or terms describing the transaction process. See how many words you can list on a white board in fifteen minutes.

 

Analyze the Terms

 

Once you have a hefty list, you can begin analyzing the words to determine whether customers would understand the terms as they are listed, or if they need to be revised into easier terms to understand. 

 

Keep in mind that your list probably will not be complete, but that is perfectly fine. The idea is to get your staff thinking about the words they use every day and how those terms might sound to customers. Make a second list of the words you think should be revised when communicating messages to customers.

 

Find Substitutions

 

From your revised list, begin analyzing each term and finding new ways to say them that the customer will more easily understand. In some cases, it might be simply a matter of shortening the term to eliminate possibly confusing words. Other times, it might involve eliminating an abbreviation to refer to the product or document by its full name.

 

For example, instead of calling a document an "EDA," refer to the paper as the "authorization for electronic debits." It takes a bit more time, but your customer knows exactly what you are referring to and does not get frustrated by the process.

 

Apply the Lesson

 

Drive the point home by beginning your meeting using terms your staff has never heard before. Give them an instruction using techno-jargon they are not familiar with and then ask if they are ready to begin. See how many willingly ask for clarification of your instructions.

 

Explain that customers feel the same way when policies or procedures are described to them in this fashion. Thus, it is important for customers to understand what your customer service representatives are talking about the first time around.

 

By eliminating techno-jargon from your communication with customers, you eliminate the potential for frustration from the beginning of the transaction. When your staff understands the importance of positive communication, they will be more likely to satisfy customers on the very first try.

- Meredith Estep

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Topics: customer service

5 Reasons Customers are Difficult

Posted by Meredith Estep on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 @ 02:52 PM

dreamstime_8081256-2.jpgThere will be times when you will run across a difficult customer who is intent on making your job more challenging and has no intention of changing their tune. In these situations, it is up to you to determine whether that person is a solid customer with a difficult personality you are willing to manage, or if the customer is more trouble than they are worth.

 

However, the majority of difficult customers may be that way for a specific reason. These difficult customers can often be transformed by simply identifying the reasons for the difficulty and changing the circumstance.

 

Their Expectations Are Not Met

 

Most of our disappointments in life come from setting expectations that are not adequately met. This is particularly true for your customers, and it can become a source of major contention for your service staff. To ensure customer expectations are met, make sure you establish realistic expectations from day one. Take the time to explain your products and policies carefully, rather than letting your customers form their own conclusions about what you will do for them.

 

Your Customer Service Staff is Not Listening to Them

 

Customers want to know that your company cares about their questions and concerns. Teach your staff to practice active listening skills that involve writing down customer concerns, repeating them back to the customer to avoid misunderstandings, and then providing solutions. When staff listens, customers are usually more willing to cooperate with your business policies.

 

You Are Not Providing Workable Solutions

 

There is nothing more frustrating than feeling a company does not care enough about your business to find viable answers to your needs. Nearly all business policies and procedures can be bent from time to time, particularly for good customers with a legitimate need. Teach your staff to replace "no's" with solutions that could work for your customers' situations. Customers are much more likely to listen to alternatives that are presented in a positive light.

 

Your Policies Changed on Them

 

There are times when companies must change their policies, but this is rarely good news for customers who are set in their ways. In order to make the transition easier, give your regular customers ample warning about the change that is going to take place. Present the benefits they will enjoy from the change. By transitioning slowly and cautiously, it is less likely that necessary changes will result in difficult customers.

 

They Want an Apology for an Error

 

In many cases, customers that have not been treated right simply want an apology for the poor service or error. In some cases, the apology can be accompanied by a discount for a follow up visit to make up for a customer's inconvenience or frustration. Customers that are sufficiently cared for are much more likely to return to your business because they have confidence in knowing you will take good care of them, regardless of the situation. 

 

Difficult customers are a challenge for customer service staff, but many of the difficulties can be easily managed through some savvy customer service techniques. Understand why customers may become difficult and then address those issues to find solutions that produce more satisfied customers every day.

- Meredith Estep

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Topics: customer service

Value of Proper Body Language & Active Listening in Customer Service

Posted by Meredith Estep on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 @ 11:37 AM

dreamstime_4063448.jpgProper body language and active listening skills play an important role in communication. If you do not communicate with the clients effectively, you won’t be able to serve them properly. Effective customer service requires a thorough understanding of proper body posture as well as the art of active listening. Without these skills, the customer service staff cannot communicate effectively with the clients. They will not be able to resolve issues of the clients. This will result in bad business for your company.

How to Build Active Listening Skills in Your Customer Service Staff?

It is important to provide training to the customer service staff to improve their listening skills. The effort put into improving their active listening skills will pay off in the form of increased customer satisfaction.

So, how can you train your customer service employees to increase their active listening skills? The following suggestions will help you in devising an effective training program to improve active listening of the employees.

  1. Keep entire focus on the conversation. The employees should not use their cell phone or undertake other activity while talking to the client.
  2. Try to absorb important information from the customer.
  3. Resist on making judgments. The employees should leave out pre-conceived notions about the customer based on their race, gender, or color.
  4. Listen for key words and phrases of the customer.
  5. Ask for clarification from the customer when required.
  6. Do not interrupt the customer when he or she is speaking. Wait for the customers to finish talking before addressing them.
  7. Take note of non-verbal gestures of the customer.

Tips on Improving Body Language

The customer service staff should be informed about proper posture when dealing with the clients. When dealing with clients, body language should be open and neutral. Below are some of the effective body posture tips when talking with the customers.

  1. Always smile when greeting or talking to the customers.
  2. Arms and legs should not be crossed.
  3. Shoulders should be in relaxed position.
  4. Maintain Eye contact, but do not stare.
  5. Sit up straight when talking with the customer.
  6. Do not touch the face or hair unnecessarily.
  7. Do not keep eyes fixed on the ground.
  8. Avoid fidgety movements.
  9. Use non-verbal gestures effectively. E.g. Palms facing the client denotes openness and honesty, use of finger can be used to emphasize the point.
  10. When talking with customers the customer service employees should keep a positive, open, and relaxed attitude. Negative thoughts will come through in your body language that will make a bad impression with the customer.

To sum up, the customer service staff should know the art of effective communication through proper body language and active listening skills. As with all new habits, it takes time to improve these skills. However, the time and effort put into the employees to brush up these customer service skills will enable them to better serve the customers and satisfy their needs.

Topics: customer service

The Worst and Best Customer Service Phrases

Posted by Meredith Estep on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 @ 12:39 PM

dreamstime_1748892-1.jpg“Hello, customer service?”

“Yes sir/ma’am, how may I help you?”

“I was just wondering about this issue and can you help me with…”

“Well sir/ma’am, to be honest with you…”

Stop right there! This is the worst thing that can be said to the customer, and right there and then you are on the brink of losing a long-term customer whom you have been doing business with. When in customer service you have to be very careful about what you say, how you say it and what tone you use. Below we have collected some of the best and worst phrases that you can say to your customers to either make or break your business deal. Just keep in mind that if you are the boss, then the responsibility to make sure that all the reps are trained to handle the customers in an ideal way falls on you. Here are the phrases that either need to be used more often, or stopped from being said altogether.

Worst Phrases in Customer Service

The following are some of the worst phrases that are used in customer service and which leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth. But that is perhaps the best you can hope for, because if the customers take offense, they will stop doing business with you.  

1.     I’m sorry, this cannot be done

There is nothing more awful then telling a person in need that their job cannot be done. The reason why the customer called in the first place was because they knew you would be able to help!

2.     That is our policy

No matter what your policy may be, explaining point-blank that what the customer is saying goes against policy pushes them away. The customers feel as if you are not thinking from their point of view.

3.     You will need to do this…

They do not ‘need’ to do anything. If they have called you for help, you don’t tell them that they would be the ones who will ultimately have to help themselves!

Best Phrases in Customer Service

The following are some of the phrases that immediately calm a customer instilling in them a sense of being taken care of. This is the one thing you need to assure them of- that you are in control and can help them any way possible.

1.     Yes, I can help you

There is nothing more pleasing to the customer’s ears then hearing that whatever issue they have can be resolved! Even if the customer is agitated, this sentence helps make them feel relaxed.

2.     We will deliver on time

The customers need to know that you take their business seriously and are willing to take responsibility of what it is that you have promised them. Time management is the best way for this assurance.

3.     Thank you for communicating

Everyone likes to see appreciation and thanking them even though they might have been complaining, shows that you respect their views and will do your best to better your services.

Topics: customer service

Keeping Employees to Keep Customers

Posted by Meredith Estep on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 @ 02:46 PM

dreamstime_7033781-3.jpgYour employees are your front line and the individuals that your customers see the most. It is very unsettling for customers to see different faces every time they walk through your door. This is especially true if your customers have managed to connect with particular employees and hope to work with them the next time they shop at your business.

 

Employee retention builds customer confidence and satisfaction, but keeping customer service representatives happy and on staff can be easier said than done. We have a few ideas to assist with your staff retention efforts.

 

Training

 

A happy staff is a well-trained one that is confident in the tasks they must perform every day. When employees lack proper training, they live with the constant worry over getting reprimanded or even fired for the decisions they make on the job. In contrast, well-trained individuals are empowered to do their jobs well and even move up through the corporate ranks.

 

Provide adequate training when your employees first begin working for you and ongoing training based on your employees' ability levels to help them improve regularly at their jobs.

 

Flexibility

 

Most workers are playing the delicate balancing game between work and home life, so make it easier for them by offering flexible scheduling whenever possible. Employees are much more likely to stick by a manager who lets them take off work early for a child's soccer game or to care for a sick parent when necessary. Some employees may be able to exercise the option to work from home on occasion, when circumstances dictate.

 

Individuals appreciate a boss who trusts them to get the job done without watching the clock to make sure they put in enough hours every day.

 

Input

 

Respect your employees enough to value their input into the daily operations of your company. After all, these are the people who see exactly how your policies and procedures directly impact your customers. If a particular process is not working, your staff should feel comfortable coming to you with their input and suggestions. Brainstorming sessions also empower your staff to offer assistance in structuring new programs and procedures that will enhance your customer service.

 

Traditions and Fun

 

Staff members love working for companies that celebrate business traditions, such as a lunch spread for St. Patrick's Day or a winter holiday gift exchange. Charity events are another way to establish a corporate identity and help the community at the same time.

 

 

Traditions do not have to cost a lot of money, but they can go a long way in making your staff feel like members of your team. Bonuses or other ways of saying thank you to your staff should also be incorporated into your company traditions, so your employees feel appreciated for the work they do.

 

Keeping staff is the first step in keeping your customers happy. How many times do you walk into a business and get a warm fuzzy feeling when you see the same staff member who has helped you dozens of times before? Provide the same experience for your own customers by showing your employees they are an integral, valuable part of your business team.

 

- Meredith Estep

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Topics: customer service

Unitiv’s Annual “Build-A-Bear for Bert’s Big Adventure

Posted by Meredith Estep on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 @ 01:12 PM

IMG_1379.jpgUnitiv’s Client Services Department and the IHD Service Desk were honored to partner with Bert's Big Adventure again for "Build-A-Bear for Bert's Big Adventure

Bert's Big Adventure is a non-profit organization located in Atlanta, GA that seeks to enrich the lives of children with chronic and terminal illnesses by taking them and their families to Walt Disney World® on a five-day vacation. The children are chosen from within “The Bert Show” listening audience, and have been nominated by friends and family for this exciting opportunity.

The Bert's Big Adventure team spares no expense to ensure every dream comes true, and relies solely on the generous donations of corporate sponsors, fundraisers and individual members of “The Bert Show” community.  As a corporate sponsor, Unitiv dedicates our Q1 community outreach project to building bears for each of the children and their siblings. The bears, lovingly created by our department at Build-A-Bear Workshop®, will be presented to the children as they return from their trip as a gift they are able to take home and remember this exciting time.

Our team enjoyed creating bears for each child based on their hobbies, favorite Disney characters, and future life goals. This year, we enjoyed creating a variety of princesses, football players and even a couple doctors.

As in every community outreach project Unitiv completes, the goal within the Client Services Department is to serve our community in the same way we serve our customers every day. Our approach includes the following:

  • Cater our service to the customer need
  • Develop a lasting relationship
  • Ensure quality
  • Build a reputation of service

Although we will not have the opportunity to watch the children open the bears created for them, our hearts go out to them, their siblings and parents as they enjoy a week of being kids - not patients, in the place where dreams come true and adventures begin.

To learn more about the Bert's Big Adventure organization, make a donation and meet the kids, please visit www.BertsBigAdventure.org.

How Well do You Know Your Customer?

Posted by Meredith Estep on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 @ 12:44 PM

dreamstime_4036764-4.jpgTo provide the best possible service to your customers, you have to get to know them first. By discovering their product preferences and needs in terms of service, you are better equipped to satisfy and delight your base.

 

Getting to know your customers is not terribly difficult, but it does take some time and effort on your part and the part of your staff.  Utilize these tips to help you move the process along and find out how to serve your customers best.

 

Customer Surveys

 

Customer surveys are one of the easiest ways to find out if your customers are satisfied with your business and what additional products and services they would like to see you provide. These surveys can be placed in your business in a prominent location or passed out directly by your staff. To increase the number of completed surveys you receive, offer an incentive like a discount coupon or freebie when the customer brings it.

 

Customer Profiles

 

In addition to getting feedback on your business, you can also use surveys to create customer profiles that allow you to serve the majority of your customers more effectively. In addition to asking about product preferences and other business-related questions, you will want to collect some demographic information that will help you place your customers into generalized categories. This information can assist you in both providing better service and developing more existing marketing strategies for attracting new customers.

 

Creating Profiles

 

You can also create your own profiles by filling out information you already know about your regular customers. Begin by making a list of questions about your customers that might include:

 

  • Income level
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Geographic location
  • Occupation
  • Education level
  • Favorite products

 

This information can be compiled to form a general customer profile that will help you stock the right products, utilize the most effective marketing tools and provide the highest level of service.

 

Using a Consulting Service

 

If you want to improve your customer profiles, hire a professional marketing service to handle the process for you. These companies are adept at developing questions and interpreting data to create the most accurate customer profiles possible. In most cases, the companies will use formal surveys, phone interviews or focus groups to collect data, and then present their findings to you once all the information is carefully analyzed.

 

Customer Conversations

 

If you really want to get to know your customers, the best way is to take the time to talk to them when they walk through your door. Ask about their families or their favorite sports teams, and find out what brought them into your business. Ask what other products or services they would like to see you offer. Those few minutes of conversation may open up a wealth of information about your customer that will help you serve them even better.

 

Knowing your customers is the first step in serving them. When you understand their basic needs in terms of your business, you can provide a higher quality of products and services to keep them loyal to your company.  

- Meredith Estep

Topics: customer service, surveys

5 Fabulous Team Building Activities for Your Customer Service Staff

Posted by Meredith Estep on Tue, Dec 29, 2015 @ 11:35 AM

dreamstime_2536039.jpg

To provide the most effective customer service, your staff must work as a team in meeting customer needs and portraying a positive company image. However, getting your group of employees to work together as a single, cohesive unit may be easier said than done.

 

To help the process along, try a few team building activities. These simple games and activities do not take long to prepare and present, but they can go far in bringing your staff together under a single corporate mission: to provide the highest quality of service to your customers.

 

Role Playing

 

Role play is one of the oldest types of team building activities, and it is also used effectively as a customer service training tool. To ensure your role play activities serve the purpose you desire, consider these factors:

 

  • Set clear objectives about the purpose of the role play.
  • To ensure the game is used as a learning activity, tailor the complexity of the role play to the employee's skill level and experience.
  • Give participants time to prepare and observers a chance to provide feedback.

 

Role play can be used as a training tool in dealing with specific customer issues, or in a more generalized format to teach active listening and effective communication skills.

 

Telephone Game

 

This game you played in grade school is an equally effective one for teaching the importance of active listening skills. One person begins the story, whispering it to the next in line. The story continues to each employee until you hear the new and revised story from the last person in the loop. Apply the results of this activity to the importance of good listening skills and proper documentation of customer concerns.

 

Colors Exercise

 

This team building activity provides an illustration of the different perceptions people have of a similar situation and how that can be used to build empathy for customers. Have each employee imagine the various days of the week and write down the color that they associate with that day. Compare the answers and the reasons for them to understand how people can see situations very differently, depending on their background and current associations.

 

Play it Backwards

 

Begin your next staff meeting with a question like, "How can we make the first customer that walks through our door angry today?" or "What can we do to ensure we don't make a single sale all day?" Once you have brainstormed the ways to provide poor customer service, turn each of the answers into a positive that can enhance your customer service skills.

 

Office Taboo

 

Create some memos with basic statements such as, "The office will be closed on Friday." Have an employee try to explain the message without using any of the words included in the written memo. Like the game Taboo, this activity will hone your staff's ability to communicate a single message in different ways until they find the method that their customers understand.

 

Team building brings your staff closer together, but it is also an opportunity to teach and practice customer service skills. Incorporating these activities into meetings will enhance your customer service, as well as your staff morale.

- Meredith Estep

Topics: customer service

Customer Service Essentials

Posted by Meredith Estep on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 @ 02:39 PM

dreamstime_8081256-1Although there are some highly creative and unique ways adopted by businesses in different sectors to distinguish themselves and their offerings from the others, it is equally important that they offer the essentials of a good customer service experience to their target market.

A few of the essentials of good customer service experience include providing a prompt response, understanding their needs and effectively following up with customers’ requests to ensure their satisfaction.

Ensure Prompt Service

A business can easily lose a loyal customer to a competitor by neglecting to provide them prompt service.  The time involved in trying to reach the correct company representative to facilitate problem resolution of often a reason for customer dissatisfaction.  You should make it easy for customers to get in contact with the right individuals within your organization to assist with issues and ask questions about products or services.

Understand Customer Needs

Make sure that you understand your customers’ needs and expectations.  Clarify and ask questions to ensure you understand their requirements and are able to effectively deliver against their requests.  You increase your chances of doing continued business with a customer if you understand their needs and benefits.

Provide Follow Up

Consistent follow up and touch points with customers should be a part of your customer service plan.  The goal for your follow ups should be to create conversations that help create stronger relationships with your customers.  This relationship building will have a direct impact on the business you receive from you customers and your chances at receiving referrals.

Following the essentials as well as additional some additional exclusive methods to make your customers feel valued will help you provide a unique and distinctive customer service experience.

- Meredith Estep

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Topics: customer service, Prompt Service, Follow Up

Great Ideas for Providing Superior Customer Service

Posted by Meredith Estep on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 03:12 PM

dreamstime_8862880_Random_Chick-1In a market that is full of competition, there are a several things that you can do to stand out from the crowd. Providing superior customer service is one of them.   Here are some great ideas to help you focus on providing exceptional customer service:

1.     Get to Know Your Customers

Train representatives that they need to get to know the customers.  Relationship building with your customers is a little effort that goes a long way!

2.     Timely Responses

Make sure to respond to your customers’ requests in a timely fashion.  If the client says that they need help urgently, ensure that help is provided as soon as possible.

3.     Put a Face to Your Business

Whenever possible, meet your customers personally and let them see firsthand how appreciative you are of their loyalty and support.

4.     Acknowledge Loyalty

The best way to show your customers that you recognize their loyalty is by rewarding them or giving them some sort of special treatment. You could start a program that does something extra for these loyal clients.  

5.     Fix Mistakes Fast

We all make mistakes.  It is important to accept ownership of making the mistake and apologize for it.  Clients will find it easier to forgive and give you a second chance.

- Meredith Estep

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Topics: customer service