presentation skills trainer

Great Ideas for Communication

Great Ideas for Communication

presentation skills trainerLaurie Brown

Laurie Brown has over two decades of experience as a trainer, coach and speaker, helping her audience improve their leadership, presentation, sales and customer service skills. 
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Don't Make Your Customer Work Hard to Get Help

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Every time I speak with a business owner, a general manager or president of a company, they say with great pride “If a problem gets to me, I make sure that it is taken care of.” They believe that the customer deserves to be helped and that their needs are met. It sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well, it is NOT a good practice, and in fact, may be creating more problems for your customers than good will.

Think back to a time when you were a customer and asked your customer service representative, whether it was a cashier, sales manager, waitress, service department representative, librarian or a myriad of other people who you do business with to help you. Perhaps you want to return a meal that you didn’t like, get a refund for a faulty product, remove a late fee, provide compensation because a problem wasn’t fixed correctly or took too much time, and their response is “I can’t”, or “it’s not our policy”, or “I’m not authorized”, or simply, “No”.

You don’t want to take no for an answer, so hoping to find someone who both cares and is empowered to help you, you ask to speak to their manager—and even this takes a fight. When you finally do, they just shrug and say no.

You keep taking your complaint up the ladder until you get to speak to the boss, the big cheese, the great and powerful Oz. And in a blink of an eye, he or she says “sure.”

Happy ending, right? Wrong! By the time you have clawed your way to the top, you have become increasingly angry and frustrated. In fact, you are probably angrier now than you were before you started this process.

If having the head of the company say “yes” is not the best thing, what is?

The best way is to empower your frontline people to say “yes.” If ultimately, you were going to say “yes”, why make the customer fight so hard?

Some of my clients are afraid that an inexperienced person might give away “too much”.

In that case, empower them to say, “let me get a manager for you. He or she will be able to help get this resolved.” Generally, no customer minds being sent to a manager. What they really mind is having to demand a manager. Your customer will also know that their issue is important to your business.

You may also try training your frontline people with the “red rules, blue rules” method. Red rules are rules that cannot be broken under any circumstance (legal, safety, ethics etc.). Blue rules are everything else. Blue rules can be broken, and this gives your frontline people the flexibility to be responsive so your customers will leave happy.

If an issue eventually came to you and you would say “yes”, why not have your people say “yes” early and often?

The customer you save may be your own.

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The Super Power I Really Don’t Want

gg64127970When I was a kid, my best friend Eileen and I spent hours talking about what super power we wanted. Eileen wanted to be able to fly so she could soar over the rooftops and see our neighborhood below her. I wanted to be invisible. I thought the super power of invisibility would allow me to sneak into the dining room when my parents and aunts and uncles would stay up late telling (mostly dirty) jokes. Then I could listen without any adult being the wiser.

Sad to say, Eileen never did get her super power, but, not to brag, I did.

Yes, I do have the super power of invisibility, and to be honest, it is a super power I wish I didn’t have. Now I can walk into stores and be totally invisible. No one acknowledges me, and in fact I can roam around some stores for hours and no one can see me at all.

I know that this super power is not mine alone. Too many of us walk into businesses without anyone saying “hi, “welcome,” or “how can I help you?”

Actually, this is a bigger problem for these businesses than it is for me. I have choices, usually a lot of them, and I often exercise these choices—as I imagine you do.

Invisibility isn’t a problem only at retail stores. I have been invisible at doctor’s offices, libraries, and dealership service departments among many other places.

If you want to make a huge difference for the success of your business, make sure that none of your customers have the power of invisibility.

What can you do? Be sure that each and every employee acknowledges each and every customer within seconds of being in their presence. Even if they are busy with another customer, or on the computer completing a work task, they just need to say “hi” or “welcome, give me a minute and I will get right to you.”, and if they are on the phone, a simple nod or raising of a hand that signals “I see you, but please give me a minute” will let your customers know that they are not invisible.

Remember, only YOU can prevent invisibility!

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Stop Spouting EMPTYthy Provide great service by turning over a new LEAF

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After waiting an hour for my food to be delivered to my hotel room—late by 30 minutes according to the delivery time promised in their email confirmation—I called the company. Then I had to wait another 30 minutes just to talk to a customer service representative.

This is when things went from bad to much, much, worse. The customer service representative told me he was sorry but that he couldn’t do anything except refund my money. When I expressed my frustration, he responded (seemingly from a customer service script on how to sound empathetic with an upset customer), “I understand.”

The problem was––he didn’t. If he truly understood, he would have expressed true empathy for a very hungry and upset customer in a strange city.

Simply parroting “I’m sorry” and “I understand” over and over only added to my frustration. It strikes of “EMPTYthy” –– words without meaning or genuine concern. I’m sure this company trained its people to “sound” like they care, but it’s not the same thing as actually caring and it just doesn’t ever work.

So, what does work? Empathy over an "i'm sorry" apology would sound like this: “Wow! We sure messed up. That’s terrible. You must be so hungry. Here is what we are going to do to resolve this now.”

If you want a more effective way to deal with upset customers try turning over a new “LEAF”.

Listen: Use active listening techniques. Acknowledge by repeating or paraphrasing to check for understanding. Let the customer finish telling their story to you. Even if you know you can fix their problem based on what you’ve heard early in the conversation, don’t. If interrupted, the customer will just keep repeating themselves until they feel heard.

Empathy: Stop using meaningless phrases such as “I understand.” Instead, use language that shows you “get it”. “That’s terrible,” “How frustrating,” “You must be besides yourself” are phrases that let your customer know you truly understand how they feel.

Act: Take ownership of the problem and fix it as soon as you can. Get creative with your solution. And if you can’t fix it immediately, show that you are urgently trying to.

Follow up: Check in with the customer and make sure that your solution satisfied them.

Try LEAF with your next unhappy customer—and please, no more EMPTYthy.

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