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3 Words New Employees Should Avoid

While assisting my wife in preparing for one of her workshops, it became apparent that a few more seats were needed. As I was familiar with this location, I proceeded to the storage room to retrieve the chairs but found the door locked. While speaking with the new receptionist in regards to gaining access to the storage room, she utilized the three words new employees should avoid – “I’m new here and I have no idea where the keys are located.” When one finds him or herself in the position of a new employee, it’s important to refrain from using these three words. Let’s talk about why.

Does Anyone Really Need To Know? – I have often heard supervisors or employers apologizing for the actions of an employee by stating – “I’m sorry, but he/she is new here.” Does the customer really need to know that and furthermore do they really care? Customers are usually unconcerned about a service provider’s tenure with an organization. As we’ve all been that “new employee”, there are times when one may not know the necessary actions to take to handle a particular situation. The apprehension felt by a new employee when presented with a situation for which we may not have an immediate resolution can be overwhelming. It’s important to maintain your composure and do what the veteran employees do – Stall! Ask the customer to allow you a few minutes to get the answer, develop a resolution, etc. Most people are understanding and will grant your request. The customer does not have to know that you’re new and you might even impress your supervisor/manager by taking the necessary actions to provide the best solution. In my example at the beginning of this article, the receptionist could have stated “Sure sir, let me locate those keys.” As she is the receptionist and is responsible for incoming calls, I understood that she was unable to leave the front desk. It would have been okay with me if she had called another employee to assist in locating the keys.

It Sounds Like An Excuse – When a new employee uses the three words “I’m new here” it may be perceived by the customer as an excuse for not being fully prepared to provide a great experience. The organization has a responsibility to provide comprehensive training to new employees which should assist in instilling confidence. Even when equipped with the best training, there will moments when new employees will either “go blank” (a temporary memory lapse) or just have no idea what to do in a given situation. In either case, it’s real easy to resort to that old standby – “I’m new here.” I suggest that one not get into the habit of using these three words as it usually results in a supervisor or manager intervening to provide whatever is needed for that particular situation. Pretty soon everyone grows weary from a new employee’s usage of those three words. Watch, listen and learn from more tenured staff as they handle various situations.

Their Confidence Is At Stake – Should a new employee decide to utilize the dreaded three words in an attempt to garner a customer’s sympathy, it most often results in a blow to the employee’s confidence. Usually, utilization of these words really means “I don’t know what I’m doing.” It’s important for new employees to gain and maintain confidence as quickly as possible. Repeated exposure to situations and scenarios that new employees are ill-equipped to handle can lead to a loss of confidence and increased anxiety or frustration. It doesn’t feel good to be face to face or on the phone with a customer when one is not prepared to provide a great customer experience. Make sure new employees are placed in areas where they can experience early success with customer interactions. Otherwise, sooner or later, someone will surely resort to “Sorry, but I’m new here.“

New employees are dependent upon the organization for proper product/service knowledge training. The use of “I’m new here.” is a sure sign that the employee may not yet be comfortable in their role. Remind new employees to ask themselves before using those three words – Does Anyone Really Need To Know? Remind them that It Sounds Like An Excuse when advising customers that “I’m new here.” Make sure they are properly trained because Their Confidence Is At Stake.

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Six Words To Avoid in Customer Service

The are many ways to antagonize a customer – poor service, less than stellar product or the failure to keep the customer abreast of changes that impact the customer experience among others. One sure way to get on the customer’s “bad side” is to use these dreaded words during interactions – “Sir/Ma’am – What you need to do is….” I have witnessed (both face to face and phone interactions) customers becoming agitated upon hearing those words! There have been instances where the words were not meant in a condescending manner – the customer service person may have been simply attempting to provide directions or perhaps trying to give instructions while assisting the customer in resolving an issue – the outcome was the same nonetheless. The customer was offended by being told “What you need to do is…” Now some may say that perhaps the customer was a little too sensitive, but one must remember that some people are sensitive!

When providing your customer with information or instructions, word usage is important to the outcome of the interaction. Utilize the “ask or suggest/not tell” method of communication. From my own personal experience in the customer service industry, the need to choose one’s words carefully can prevent the creation of a sub par customer experience. Instead of saying to a customer “What you need to do is get a pen and some paper to write down this information.” try asking ” Do you have a pen and some paper available sir/ma’am? I would like to provide you with some information that will help you with this situation.” The initial statement may be vocalized with no harm intended, but most adults would rather not be told what they need to do! Exercise extra caution here when the customer is angry or complaining. Utilization of our featured statement may only lead to big trouble when the customer is upset or unhappy with your product or services.

It’s important to stay on the offensive when providing customer service. Effective communication is a critical component in your customer service toolbox. One’s ability to establish rapport with the customer rests on making the decision to communicate in a friendly, yet professional manner. The wrong choice of words can quickly put you in a defensive mode where you’ll find yourself attempting to explain to the customer and or someone within your organization (supervisor, upper management) what you really meant! When attempting to point your customer in the right direction, use suggestive language such as “May I suggest that you….. or “In order for me to assist you with this issue may I ask you to…… . Such language is hard to be construed as confrontational by the customer. Oftentimes, our word choice can be the difference in our provision of a great customer experience. Every customer deserves a measure of respect, therefore it’s important to ensure that the customer feels that you’re providing assistance versus their being a lecture recipient. Be conscious of how you provide assistance and be sure to stay away from the dreaded six words – What you need to do is….

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3 Ways To Get Your Customer To Help You Provide Great Customer Service

In our efforts to provide great customer service, we often forget to remember that it’s important to get the customer to participate in helping us to do so. In some situations, customers can assist in the quest if given the opportunity. Here are a three ways to proactively do so:

Tell your customers what you need them to provide: It has often been my experience that if I had been advised of what was needed when calling or visiting certain businesses, the interaction may have been more efficient for myself and the customer service employee. Post contact requirements on your website’s contact us page, on your snail mail information, in your emails when appropriate, in your interactive voice response system (IVR) , at customer service counters, and other contact points. If your customer has an appointment to visit your business, advise them of what they should bring in order to make the experience a positive one. Doing so prompts your customer to have all of the necessary information readily available, which in turn assists the customer contact personnel in promptly and efficiently servicing the customer. Before having minor knee surgery a couple of years ago, I was advised by a representative from the surgical facility what information and documents to bring when arriving the morning of the surgery. The interaction was very smooth and efficient upon my arrival for surgery.

Tell your customers what you need them to do: Recently I visited the post office to retrieve a certified document. I stood in the line for 10 minutes before catching a glimpse of a sign stating – “Customers picking up certified mail form a line here.” The sign was located behind, to the left and above the front counter, in a recessed storage area, thereby increasing the possibility of one not seeing it when entering the post office. I would recommend placing the sign near the post office entrance and once again at the entrance to the main area where most transactions take place. This would aide the customer in going to the proper counter, thereby eliminating unnecessary time spent in the wrong line. Strategically placed signage assists your customer in going to proper locations for service. Anxiety and frustration levels tend to rise when the customer is not sure where they need to be when entering your facility. Make sure the signage is clear – During a visit a few months ago to a local car wash, I noticed the signage had changed, but the new signage was a little confusing. As I pulled forward and asked the attendant which line was the correct line for someone on my specific wash program, he bluntly stated that the information was on the sign. After reminding him that I can read, but the signage was a little confusing, he gruffly advised me that I was in fact in the correct line. In both situations, a little time taken to become the customer in regards to the sign location and language may have prevented the negative interactions. By the way, the car wash employee was the recipient of my “Secret Service Agent” stare after his remarks.

Tell your customers how to help themselves – Not all customers require the personal touch. Some prefer to do things themselves – not necessarily because they fear the level of service they may receive when interacting with customer service personnel – it’s just their preference. When a customer chooses to utilize your “self service” channels, make sure that instructions are readily available. Place clear instructions on your website, in your interactive voice response system (IVR) and at your self service counters. Make it a point to regularly check your self service systems to insure smooth functionality for your customer. Once again, become the customer to make sure your instructions are clear and to insure your systems are customer friendly.

Your customer depends upon you for a great customer experience. Get them to assist you in doing so by proactively : 1. Telling them what they need to provide. 2. Telling them what they need to do. 3. Telling them how to help themselves. They will appreciate your attention to detail and your front line employees will benefit as well via increased interaction efficiency.

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He Just Handled It!

My son drove in from Austin a few days ago and his car’s exhaust was a little louder than normal. He stated that he was scheduled to take it into the Houston dealership, Russell & Smith Ford, where it was purchased on the next day which happened to be a Saturday. At his request, I tagged along. The car was checked in at the service department with my son being told that the service person would contact him in about an hour with an update. We took a short walk to a nearby restaurant for breakfast. After about an hour, we arrived back at the dealership just as they were notifiying my son of his vehicle’s status. It seems that the repair person felt that he could not properly make a repair weld and didn’t want to perform a substandard repair. The service advisor, B.J. Villareal advised my son that the repair should be done by a one of their vendor muffler shops as they are experts with exhaust repair, but he did not have access to purchase orders on the weekend. Without a purchase order, the vendor muffler shop would not perform the repairs. When B.J. was advised that my son lived in Austin, he called his manager at home to get authorization and then called the muffler shop to make sure that they would do the repairs without the purchase order. He then advised my son to take the vehicle to the muffler shop for completion of the repairs. We arrived at the muffler shop a short time later and the repairs were completed within 40 minutes. Now B.J. could have easily told my son that without having the ability to create a purchase order, he couldn’t authorize the repairs until Monday or he could have said just take it to a dealership when you get back to Austin. He didn’t do that! He took the necessary steps to get the repairs done and for that he is a recipient of the “Now That’s Customer Service!” Award. Congratulations B.J.!

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