Quality products and service are at the heart of any business plan, but quality only goes so far. According to Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor, more business is lost due to poor treatment of customers than due to poor products.
On Thursday, she gave Auto Glass Week™ attendees valuable customer service tips.
She had attendees pull pieces of paper out of a hat. Each paper had one of Friedman’s golden nuggets of customer service written on it.
The Telephone Doctor’s first tip is for business owners to call their company and ask for themselves, a service or product to experience the realities of their employees’ customer service skills.
“You’re losing customers because of how you handle those initial calls. On the phone, you have 20 seconds to make a good initial impression,” said Friedman. “It’s important to build rapport.”
The Telephone Doctor also advised attendees not to rush their customers even if they are busy.
“You’re in a hurry but your customer isn’t. Something’s wrong with their windshield and they need you to assure them it can be fixed,” she said.
Friedman referred to caller ID as a “crock” because no one can be sure that the person who comes up on caller ID will be the person they expect.
“Never assume. I’ve had an employee come up to me upset because she answered a call from her husband’s phone number but the person calling was his boss. She would have answered the phone differently if she had known,” said Friedman. “If you don’t assume you’ll never be sorry. So why would you take a chance?”
According to Friedman, companies should avoid the five frustrating voicemail phrases: “I’m not able to answer my phone right now,” “Your call is very important to me,” “I’m sorry I missed your call,” “I’ll call you back as soon as possible,” and not leaving information about other ways to get in contact with them.
“We lose calls and business because we don’t invite someone to do something,” she said.
Phone etiquette was a large part of her presentation. She advised companies to ask their customers if they have time to talk when making an outbound call, and to never ask the customer to call them back. Friedman said it’s always better to call the customer back at a time convenient for them.
She wrapped up her seminar with the ASAP technique, or strategies for dealing with irate customers.
Companies should acknowledge and apologize immediately, according to Friedman. Customers will be happier if employees sympathize and empathize with them.
“But it’s important to know the difference,” said Friedman. “Saying that you know exactly how they feel is the worst. Unless you’ve experienced it then you can’t empathize and know how they feel. You can only sympathize.”
Accepting the responsibility for the customer’s problem is another way to improve their mode.
Lastly, companies should be prepared to help and fix the problem.