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Just How Good Are You at Customer Service?

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

Most of us think we're pretty good at Customer Service. We get up in the morning...
get ready for our to the office...get a parking space...sometimes close in...sometimes far out...walk into the office...grab a cup of office...sit down at our desk...and then: RING RING RING. Our phones start. It's usually a customer.

  If you're in the Customer Service business (and who isn't these days), whether it's
for external or internal customer service, your day is spent trying to please someone. Somehow, we're all customers in one way or another.

I've been training corporations on Customer Service for over 17 years. During that time I've found out what the customer likes best. Here are our Telephone Doctor's 

By using just one of them, you're bound to see an increase in satisfied customers.

1. Be A DOUBLE CHECKER. Learn to use those words. Everyone loves it when you double check something for them. Even if you're pretty sure the item is out of stock, the appointment is filled or there's no room available . . . it sounds so good to hear, "let me double check that for you."

2. PRETEND IT'S YOU. If you're working with a customer, either on the phone or in person, and they need something--pretend it's you. What would you want to have happen? What would make you happy? What would make you satisfied? Here's a great place to remember the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

3. GET INVOLVED. Let your customer know you're on their team. If you're ringing up a purchase for someone, mention how nice their choice is. If you're helping someone with a trip of some sort . . . get excited with them. When customers feel as though you're part of the package . . . they love it.

4. STAY FOCUSED. Eye contact is critical in delivering excellent customer service. Heads that turn on a spindle and look everywhere, but at the customer, get very few good marks in customer service. Eye contact shows you are listening. If you're on the phone, eye contact is definitely difficult. We can, however, learn to stay focused on the phone. Don't type unless it pertains to what you are doing. Don't read something while you're on the phone with a customer . . . STAY FOCUSED on the caller. We need to stay focused without eye contact.

5. DO SOMETHING EXTRA. There's usually always "something" you can do for the customer that's extra. In most of the cases it won't even cost very much. Example . . . keeping a stock of penny lollipops for kids when they come into your store with their moms. Or a balloon. Or coloring books. Spend a few dollars if you have the budget for those "give aways." Nail clippers . . . key chains . . . customers LOVE that something extra; oddly enough, even if they can't use it. The thought of getting something FREE is
very special to the customer.

  6. SHOW YOUR TEETH. (In Telephone Doctor language . . . that means smile.) There are many people who think they're smiling, but aren't. So Telephone Doctor's motto is: SHOW YOUR TEETH. Smiling is one of the best customer service techniques there is. It's so frustrating to walk into a store, or call some place, and not see or hear a smile. (And, yes, you can hear a smile)

  7. ASK QUESTIONS. A super way to offer superior customer service is to ASK QUESTIONS. Build on what the customer is talking about. Listen for one or two words that you can ask something about. Even a simple, "Tell me more," will work. Once the customer is talking, you will be able to help them much better.

  8. USE COMPLETE SENTENCES. One-word answers are semi useless in customer service. And one-word answers are definitely perceived as RUDE. "yes," "no," and the like, tell the customer "I'm not really interested in you or what you need."

  9. CARE. Most people have what Telephone Doctor calls the CARE GENE. Some
of us use it more than others. We just forget we have it. Learn to CARE what your customer's needs are. CARE what they are referring to. CARE about your customers . . . and they will take CARE of you.

  10. LAUGHTER. Laughter will lighten the load. Everyone likes to laugh. Some even in
the darkest moments. Take the time to laugh and enjoy your customers.

  Put any one of these Telephone "Doctor" customer service tips into action and watch what happens. They intertwine with each other . . . and make customer service special.
Use all ten . . . and expect more business.

Nancy Friedman is a KEYNOTE speaker at conferences and corporate gatherings and author of several books on the topics of customer service and phone skills. You can reach Nancy, president of Telephone Doctor (r), at 314-219-1012 or visit her web site at