Archive for the ‘Personalities’ Category

Empower Your Customer Service People

I’m a huge fan of empowering your front line people to do what they need to do in order to make your customers happy. I’m constantly baffled at companies that give their Customer Service Reps the power to make very attractive offers to potential or former customers, but if I, as an existing customer, am unhappy or upset, there is virtually nothing they can offer to keep me as a customer.

Ann Brady talks about an experience she and her husband had with their satellite dish company. After more than four years as a loyal, paying customer, they noticed a problem with the reception. When they asked to have someone come take a look at it, they were told it would be $100. That is the only option customer service was empowered to offer. When Ann informed the customer service rep that she could get brand new satellite equipment for free from the company’s competitor, she was told to go ahead and switch, which Ann and her husband did. After they switched, the first company called to ask why they left, so Ann told them the story. The employee agreed that “After four years, we should have fixed it for free.” Too late. Ann had signed a new one-year agreement and couldn’t be happier with their new, free, digital video recorder.

Examples like these are not at all uncommon in the customer service world. Give your customer service people…your frontline customer contact points…the power to solve customers’ problems—to do whatever it takes (within reason) to make your customers happy.

Here are some tips for empowering your customer service department:

1.) Depending on the nature of the complaint, arm your customer service employees with the ability to offer incentives to unhappy customers to encourage them not to leave.

For example, if you normally charge for a service call, but you’re facing the prospect of losing a ten-year customer, allow the customer service representative to offer half off.

2.) If your company screwed up, and your customer calls you on it, allow your customer service people to admit that a mistake was made, apologize, and offer something to make up for it, perhaps a free month of service, or a coupon for a discount on a future order.

Nothing is more aggravating than having someone apologize without admitting any wrongdoing (i.e. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I’m sorry you’re upset about that.”) Teach your people to say, “I’m sorry; we were wrong. What can we do to make it up to you?” While the customer isn’t “always right,” reacting this way can go a long ways toward keeping a customer.

3.) Toss the scripts. Giving customer service people lists of things to say to unhappy customers turns your people into nothing more than robots. With today’s voice recognition technology, you may as well use an automated response system.

Train your customer service people on how to act like human beings. Provide them with the kind of conflict-resolution training they need to turn unhappy customers into people who at least believe your company cares about their problems and wants to help them.

4.) Offer incentives to customer service people who retain unhappy customers.

For example, record your calls, and once a month give an award to the customer service representative who does the best job turning angry customers into happy ones.

5.) Don’t wait for the customer to insist on speaking to a manager. If the customer service representative’s authority to offer a solution is not enough to retain the customer, it should be standard procedure for the representative to request time to consult a supervisor and possibly bring him or her into the discussion.

Angry Callers

At one time or another, we all are going to have to answer the phone to talk with an angry or upset caller. When that situation happens, here are a few things to remember.

Don’t React in Frustration

If you match the caller’s anger or upset feelings in your response to him, the call, and the relationship, will quickly melt into a puddle of irreplaceable hard feelings. So the first thing to do is…to NOT do! Don’t react with frustration; don’t respond in anger, and don’t even make a smart comment. The best thing to do is to stay calm.
Empathize with the Caller

Most of the time, if you can empathize with the caller, you will gain his ear, and calm him down at the same time. Empathy is understanding or entering into another’s feelings. Convey that you understand why the caller might be upset, and that it’s not an unreasonable reaction (even if it’s not the most productive reaction!). Seeing the situation from the caller’s perspective is the first thing the caller really wants you to do.


Take Some Blame for the Company

I recently had an excellent example of an employee taking the blame for the company when I called Starbucks. I had purchased a coffee cup, and used it once, and the second time I went to use it, my coffee poured out all around the lid! As coffee ran down my chin and on my shirt, I couldn’t believe what was happening! When I took off the cup’s lid, I saw right away that the cup had been cracked, all around the top, and there was no way it could be fixed. I called Starbucks to ask what it suggested I do about this situation since I suspected that the first time I used the cup, a barista had dropped it, and I felt that could have caused the cracking.

When I spoke with the Starbucks representative, the first thing he did was take full responsibility for the incident. No questions asked. There was never any implication that it might have been my fault, and never any hedging on the fact that the company was going to take care of me. Right away, he asked whether I could send him the receipt for the cup so he could give me a refund. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the receipt anymore, so he asked what I had paid for the cup. I told him it was ten or eleven dollars to the best of my memory. He let me know that without the receipt, he couldn’t issue an exact refund, but that he would be happy to send me a $10 gift card if that were acceptable to me. He also took careful notes of the cup type, and let me know that the company tracks incidents with its cups, so it can improve on them.

Then, in a move that sealed my feelings about Starbucks, he said, “Now, you mentioned that it spilled on your shirt. Is there anything we need to do to clean or replace your shirt?” Do you see how taking the blame for the incident led him to going beyond what I felt was even necessary in order to resolve my situation? But if he had been hedging up front, and even grudgingly offered a refund, I wouldn’t have felt nearly as good about the company as I do now! (And sharing this story with you is free press for Starbucks!)

By taking the blame for the company, the employee allowed for there to be only a very small step between solving my complaint, and making me a fan of Starbucks for life!

What are they thinking?

Your advertisements are tweaked to achieve maximum response. You’ve analyzed the colors, words, and images until you know there’s nothing else you can do. It’s your message to your market, and you’re ready to let it fly.

So what will happen with those potential customers call you? Have you thought about HOW they buy? Have you considered their buying preferences?

Research from Dr. Carl Jung, Dr. Marston,  and others, there are four basic preferences in how people perceive the world, and make decisions. We’ll call those Competitive, Spontaneous, Humanist, and Methodical.

People like to hear things in their own language…the way things make sense to them. If you’re talking in the fast paced, make-it-happen-now, pull-the-trigger-and-ride-the-bullet world of a Spontaneous, you might lose the Humanist, because they need a deeply personal connection in order to do business with you.
On the other hand, outlining all the facts, timelines, and responsibilites for the Methodical can cause the Competitive, and especillay the Spontaneous, to be bored, and not pay attention.

Just like we like to communicate in the “language” of our personality type, we also tend to write and speak in that same language.

So what do you do? How can you keep from isolating a large percentage of your callers?

You should make a consciense effort to include words from each of the four personality types.

Methodicals focus on language that answers the question “How?”. How does this work? How do the details fit together. How can I plan ahead with this?

Spontaneous personalities live in the moment, focusing on phrases like “Why do you think you can getme what I need quickly? Why is your service superior?

Humanistic personalities have a personal, relationship-oriented focus. They want to hear phrases like “Who uses your products? Who is on your staff, and let me see the bios. Who can tell me how your product or service will make me feel?

Competitive personalities focus on answering the “What” question. They’ll often ask “What are your competitive advantages? What makes you a superior choice? And What can you do to help me be more productive.

Wow! That’s a lot to keep up with! So how does it all work together? Here’s an example of four different ads, each written for a mythical cruise line. Each based on the same DEMOgraphics, but written specifically for each of the four personalities. See if you can tell which ad is targeted to which demographic?

1. 8 decks of fun. 21 meals prepared by top chefs in the world. 42 hours to sit by the pool. Planned activities everyday. Bring your swimsuit and evening gown, because we cover both extremes. We guarantee you’ll relax, or your money back.

2. Congratulations, you’re cruising on the best rated Cruise Line ever. Custom toiletries in every cabin, and VIP tours and activities are available. Meet new friends, and show off a little while you relax. And never be out of touch with your friends and followers, with onboard internet access (included in your Premium pass).

3. You’ll never have another chance to live today, so enjoy it as much as you can with a cruise on Women’s Escape Cruislines. Book it now for a special bonus offer of an “I Escaped with W.E.C!” windbreaker. Because this might be your first cruise, but it won’t be your last. Make your own schedule, because on this cruise, we’re open around the clock!

4. “Cruising was the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken”…Cristy – Cruised to Barbados . “Knowing that Women’s Escape Cruislines was tailored specifically for what I as a woman like, made it an easy choice. And spending the week with 3 old friends made it feel like we were back in middle school”. Helen – Cruised to Jamaica. Women’s Escape Cruislines has the most return friends cruising. In fact, 40% of our cruisers are second or 3rd time cruisers.

So how did you do? 1 is for the Methodical, with all details included, nothing left to chance, and prepared for anything. 2 is for the Competitive, with VIP tours, best ratings, and premium upgrades. 3 is for the Spontaneous, with a “book it now” bonus offer, a free gift, and the ability to have fun when and where you want. And 4 is for the Humanistic, with a personal connection, a reccomendation from someone else, and a knowledge that they are making the right choice.


By writing your On-Hold and  Auto Attendant messages with these things in mind, you’ll be able to craft your specific message in ways that will strike a chord with all personalities!