Phrases That Pay

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Simple statements that increase your perceived value

Quick — name two words which, when frequently used by waiters and waitresses, increases tips by 12 percent. (Hint: it’s not please or thank you).

Give up? The answer is, “…for you.” So, rather than saying to a customer, “Would you like some more coffee?” the savvy waiter would say, “I brought more coffee over for you.” The patron thinks, “Gosh, you did that for me, how thoughtful!” and tips accordingly — on average 12 percent more.

That’s what I call easy money. If you answered correctly — ignore the rest of this … Read the rest

Getting Your Staff to Get Along

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Common Teambuilding Approaches — and Why They Don’t Work

“I can accept it when one of my employees makes a mistake. What I don’t have patience for is when my employees don’t play well with one another.” This was a client, a business owner with 45 employees, who explained, “When there’s a problem with a customer, employees focus more on blaming other departments and covering their own backsides than stepping up to help each other to resolve the problem. We need a stronger commitment to teamwork.”

Over the many years that I’ve helped teams to strengthen trust with their customers … Read the rest

Telephone Turnoffs

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How to improve telephone communication.

Like you, there are times in my work when e-mails and texts aren’t efficient and I actually need to phone someone and have a real conversation. In my case, it’s when I’m preparing for a training session or to speak at a conference that requires interviewing senior managers and key employees. I’ve made literally thousands of calls over the years and — since I pay particular attention to customer communication — I’ve created a list of Top 10 Telephone Turnoffs. See if you can relate to them, which I’ve rated from least annoying to worst. … Read the rest

When Customers Ignore You

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Business building tips that cost nothing.

Remember the days when people noticed good customer service, talked about it, and most important — rewarded you for it? Happy customers would return and spread the word. In today’s fast-paced world, however, people are so rushed moving to the next thing, or so distracted by their mobile devices, that good customer service is overlooked. Fortunately, as I share in my seminars, there are several easy things you can do that will enhance your service and boost your business which your customers will actually notice. Best of all, they cost you nothing. Here are … Read the rest

In Praise of Quieter Communications

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Four touch points when it pays to dial‑down your approach

In a world of TV ads that blare, e-mails that SHOUT IN ALL CAPS, and employees who talk when they shou1d listen, consider the advantages of making your customer communications quieter. Here are four touch points I share in my seminars when a strong/silent approach will differentiate you positively in your customers’ hearts and wallets.

  • When Establishing Rapport

You’ve likely heard about the importance of elevator pitches. The idea is that within the first few minutes, you should give your potential customer a synopsis of what you do and what … Read the rest

Common Mistakes When Identifying Customer Needs

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When managers plan their business strategies, common sense dictates that these game-plans should be in line with customer needs. The first step in planning is therefore to identify customer preferences. Unfortunately, most conventional approaches to determining customer needs are flawed.

Here are five of the most common methods used to gather customer opinions along with their drawbacks. Keep these often-made mistakes in mind when planning your business strategy.

Mistake #1 — Counting Cash

One way to find out what customers think — indirectly at least — is to look at revenues, the assumption being that if revenues are increasing then … Read the rest

How to Work Less and Get More Done

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In the days before e-mail entered our lives (up till the mid-1990s) the most pervasive interruption for the average manager was a ringing phone.

Even then, most managers had secretaries who screened their calls. Then along comes e-mail. Managers now receive dozens of messages from anyone — including spammers. The problem gets worse as employees who are sending e-mail messages within a company can easily send copies, no matter how trivial, to everyone else — including to other managers. The end result is that with the advent of e-mail it’s easy for a manager to spend an entire day reacting … Read the rest

Making Connections

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Creating rapport with anyone in fewer than 30 seconds.

We all know the power of first impressions. How people perceive us during the first few seconds of an encounter has a major influence on whether they will trust us, be attracted to us, or want to conduct business with us. To create a positive first impression, we need to know how to connect immediately with others regardless of their age, gender, ethnic background, mood, or the situation.

Let’s begin by testing your “first impression awareness.” What would you think of the waiter in the following situation? You’re having a business … Read the rest

Getting Your Foot in the Door: Steps to Successful Cold‑Calling

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“The problem with my salespeople is they’re not cold calling enough!” That’s the concern I hear most often from sales managers and business owners when I speak at conventions on how to boost sales. Yet when I examine their cold-calling strategies, I generally find they’re ill-conceived.

Decision-makers in most organizations soon grow weary of the large number of salespeople phoning them. So if you’re not well-trained when you cold call, I guarantee that you’ll face a lot of rejection.

On the other hand, when you’re professionally trained, cold calling is easy and tremendously profitable. Here are steps to boost your … Read the rest

Talking to Strangers:
Reasons Potential Customers May Distrust You

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Interesting to hear the response from managers when asked about what factors impact sales. Many will reference the economy, customer demographics, competition, and recent innovations. While those factors certainly play a role, I often find, when brought in to train sales and service teams, that employees inadvertently chase away new potential customers. It usually happens within the first 10 seconds of customer communication, and most employees have no idea that they are committing these offenses. See if this is true in your organization. Consider these reasons potential customers may distrust you or your team members.

Faking Familiarity

Imagine that you … Read the rest

Customer Service Motivation

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Tips for Staying Up When Customers Wear You Down

Someone once said that life would be easy if it wasn’t for other people. Making a living however, usually involves interacting with humans. Your job may be fine when customers are pleasant and everything goes well. Sooner or later though, unavoidable delays, foul-ups and interruptions can make even good jobs turn into, well … work. To help you have more up days than down — even when things go wrong — here are several strategies I share in my seminars for making your job easier and your mood better. The bonus … Read the rest

Major Reasons Customer Service Slides

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When I’m asked speak at conferences on how managers can boost business, they often assume we’re going to focus on gaining new customers. Ironically, that’s the last thing we should focus on. Neglecting existing customers to chase new business is akin to gathering water in the proverbial leaky bucket. We can exhaust ourselves trying to collect more water when we’d be further ahead by simply fixing the holes. The more sustainable approach to growing business is ensuring existing customers are so thrilled that they’ll not only return; but they’ll also recommend you to new potential customers. The challenge is without … Read the rest

30 Seconds to Significant Sales

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How to up-sell without turning off your customer.

If you and your employees aren’t trained on effective ways to upsell, chances are you either offend customers by being too pushy, or leave money on the table that customers would have willingly spent with you. Either option is costly.

When organizations bring me in to train employees on how to increase revenues from current customers, I often find that not enough attention is paid to up-selling.

Up-selling refers to when you help a customer decide to buy a little extra or “up-grade” slightly the final purchase. A car dealer, for example, … Read the rest

Top 10 Worst Things to Say to Angry Customers

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You may have great products, but you can still have customer service problems caused by bad weather, equipment failures, or human error.

While you can’t control external events, you can control what you say to upset customers. Certain phrases will serve to either defuse or enflame.

After more than 20 years of speaking at conferences and training teams on customer service, here are my top 10 worst things to say to unhappy customers (from least offensive to most), along with tips for regaining trust.

  • “Want the good news or bad?”

When customers hear bad news they tend to catastrophize. They … Read the rest

Reasons to Avoid the Friend Zone With Customers

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Conventional workplace wisdom espouses the virtue of employees being friendly with customers. While friendliness is a good thing, too often employees interpret it as encouragement to become their customer’s friend. That’s not such a good thing. The key question is what is the most appropriate and profitable employee-customer relationship? Having conducted customer service training seminars for hundreds of organizations over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are five things every employee should consider as they develop relationships with internal and external customers.

Not All Interactions Are Fun

Chances are, customers would rather not go through the process … Read the rest

When Customers Ignore You: Business Building Tips That Cost Nothing

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Remember the days when people noticed good customer service, talked about it, and most important — rewarded you for it? Happy customers would return and spread the word. In today’s fast-paced world, however, people are so rushed moving to the next thing, or so distracted by their mobile device, that good customer service is overlooked. Fortunately, as I share in my seminars, there are several easy things you can do to enhance your service and boost your business that your customers will actually notice. Best of all, they cost you nothing. Here are a few starting points.

Be the Voice … Read the rest

Trends That Will Change the Way You Serve Customers

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You have no doubt noticed that technology is changing the “face” of customer service. Traditional ways we used to interact with customers, win their trust, and keep them coming back are becoming irrelevant. Here are three of the most significant trends in customer service, and how you can position your business to capitalize rather than capsize in response.

Trend #1 — Self-Serve Slavery

What apparently started with self-serve gas stations has now become the norm. Customers are now booking their own travel, doing their own banking and even scanning their own groceries at self-serve checkouts. There are pluses and minuses … Read the rest

How to Stand Out Without Lowering Your Price

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Is what you do for a living perceived by potential customers as being a mere commodity; more or less the same as others in your profession? When that happens, customers revert to the easiest differentiator — price. The outlook gets worse as you realize that somewhere in the global economy there is likely someone offering similar products or services for a cheaper price. And with the Internet it’s easier for your customers to find them. What’s most frustrating is when you know your products and services are indeed different, but customers don’t seem to get that and put you in … Read the rest

Do’s and Don’ts for Calming Cranky Customers

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Perhaps you’ve noticed that customers are becoming increasingly hostile. Case in point was the highly publicized incident where a patron in a fast-food restaurant became so enraged that he attacked the restaurant manager. The customer spilled his coffee on his breakfast and when the manager refused to replace the meal, the ensuing argument led to violence that ended with the customer being arrested.

It seems in our fast-paced frenetic world customers are now more tired, rushed, stressed and downright fed up. That’s why in my customer service seminars both managers and frontline employees frequently ask me how to handle the … Read the rest

Customer Service Tips When People Are Stressed

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image of stressed womanLet’s admit it — when it comes to dealing with customers who are stressed, some jobs are easier than others. A masseuse working in a resort spa will have more pleasant customers than a lost luggage agent at a busy airport. If your customers are sitting in a chair at your hair salon, they’re likely to be more relaxed than if they were sitting in an examination chair in a dental office.

That’s why so many customer service training programs fall short of desired results. Over the last decade there’s been a dearth of frontline training that focuses on enhancing … Read the rest