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Customer Service: In the details


Transcript from the training video presentation by Lisa Ford

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Customer Service: In the details

There are three levels of customer service being delivered today:

• rude,
Except Rude • indifferent,
ional • and exceptional.


This tape is aimed at improving your customer service skills.

Provision of exceptional customer service by paying attention to

the details.

Providing exceptional customer service is in the details. When you
do the basic well, the customer feels served and not processed.
Many times, the service I receive doesn’t want me to be a repeat
customer. I am being processed, not served.

Your challenge is to give your customer exception service by

paying attention to the details and doing the basics well.

Excellent customer service can turn a one-time customer into a

life-time customer; rude or indifferent customer service can turn a
life-time customer running to your competitions.

Research done by Lymbery & Colleagues of Texas identify the

criteria how customer define quality customer service. So with
their research which I have expounded upon with my own
experience, let’s look at the five (5) qualities of what customers

FIVE 1. Reliability
CHARACTERISTICS 2. Responsiveness
3. Feel Valued
4. Empathy
5. Competence

Lets look at each of those characteristics and see how focusing on

details can improve customer service.

Quality #1: Reliability Reliability is at the core of the products and services that we
provide. If we are not reliable little else matters. For years I use an
old concept I called the Grandmother Rule, it has three (3)

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Customer Service: In the details

components to it.

The Grandmother Rule

i. Do what you say you’re going to do
ii. Do it when you say you’re going to do it
iii. Do it right the first time

That’s the Grandmother Rule. Most of us weren’t raise with that

kind of values. Follow the Grandmother Rule and you’ll improve
your reliability. Are doing what you say you’d do? Are you doing
it when you say you will do it? Are you doing it right the first
time? We will have many more happy customers if we all honor
the Grandmother Rule.

Guidelines for
There are times, however, when we do not get it right the first
Recovering Customer
time. When this happen, we must have guide lines for recovering
customer loyalty. There are four (4) guidelines for recovering
customer loyalty.

Apologize Sincerely
i. “Sincerely” is the key word. Most apologies are not
sincere. Say, “I am very sorry this has happened, I
apologize for the inconvenience”. Apologize sincerely.

Fix the Problem Quickly

ii. When you fix the problem, don’t fix the blame. Too often,
we talk about what happened, who did what, or who to
blame rather than focusing on the real problem. The
customer does not care who is to blame, they want you to
fix the problem quickly.

Do Something Extra iii. Now, some people say, “hey, wait a minute, if I have
apologized and then fix the problem, why do I have to do
something extra?” Here is why. Your customer has been
hassled; in their mind it should have been done right the
first time. If it was not done right the first time, you must
do something to regain their confidence and loyalty. Make
it right, and then do something extra

For example, a firm specializing in temporary personnel

placement will unfortunately occasionally send an
individual on a job, who is not well suited for that
position. In those situations, the typical remedy is that the

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Customer Service: In the details

customer does not have to pay for that individual day of

work. However, this temporary personnel firm will not
only attempt to do a better match with the next employee;
they’d also send a bouquet of flowers with a bottle of
aspirin with a note attached saying, “we are sorry for the
headache we caused”. Isn’t that great? That is an extra.

This gives the customer confidence that even if they did

not do it right the first time, they will do better the next
time. It also tells the customer that their first mistake was
unusual, and not how they normally do business.

Follow-Up iv. It might be a quick phone call; it may be a letter; it could

be a visit just to check how the customer is doing.
Whatever it is, you must make certain that your recovery
effort has paid off, and the customer will continue doing
business with you.

A simple guideline to keep in mind so that you don’t have to

be recovering often is -

Do the right thing the first time

It sounds basic, but it’s something most of us spend too little

time doing. If we recover too often it will reveal short
comings to our customers. After a second or third recovery
experience, they certainly will take their business elsewhere
and who can blame them.
Review: Quality #1 That sums up the first point – Reliability (follow the Grandmother

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Quality #2: Let’s move on to the second characteristics of quality service –

Responsiveness Responsiveness.

Speedy Service
Speed is the best way to define this. Today’s customer wants
something faster than they ever wanted them before; whether it’s a
brief hold on the phone or a short time in line or an immediate
email; customers have a desire for speedy service.

A good friend and I were talking about customers becoming more

sophisticated, educated, and demanding, and he said, “Lisa, listen,
you are just the same. How many times have you stood in front of
a microwave wishing the microwave would finish faster”. I
laughed. That’s exactly what our customers are like and we are
expected to serve them. So, when you are working with customers
be sure to keep timeliness and considerations. Ask yourself, “what
would I expect if I were in the customer’s shoes?”

Take Ownership
Another part of being responsive means taking ownership.
Follow Through Ownership means owning the customers’ issues or questions. You
do this by following through on promises, and if possible, be the
only person who speaks with the customer. I know this is not
always realistic, but try to apply the one voice concept. One firm
calls it “First touch, last touch”; whoever first touches the
customer with their voice will be the individual who last touches
the customer; that’s the only person who speaks with that
customer. You know the reason for this. How many times have
you had a caller transferred to you, and you hear the caller say,
“You are the third person I’ve talked to”. No one likes being
bounced around.

So, we must take the customer problem, concern, or issue and see
it through; that’s responsiveness from the customer’s view.

Customer’s Perception Speaking of customer’s view, how many of us really evaluate how
good we are from the customer’s eyes? You probably heard the
old phrase, I think Tom Peter said first, “Perception is all there
is”. The customer’s perception is reality. If the customer thinks
we are great, we are great; if the customer thinks we stink, we
stink. If the customer thinks someone was rude, someone was
rude. The interesting thing about perception is that it’s rarely
neutral; perception is usually on the upside of positive or the
downside of negative. For example, I was being seated in an hotel
restaurant and the host took me to a table, pulled out the chair;
when he pulled out the chair I could see the floor underneath the
table; I saw a lot of crumbs, and empty cracker packages, it was
dirty. Now I want to ask you, when I saw that floor, what else did I
see? You’re right. The kitchen; the quality of service. Just because

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Customer Service: In the details

their floor was dirty, I perceived and expected that my service

would be bad; the kitchen was dirty, and the food would not be
worth the money I would pay for it. And I want you to guess, was
I right? Definitely! Perception is all there is.

Now, that’s a negative perception. Let me give you a positive one.

I always take my car to a place to get it repaired, and when I
picked it up, they’ve always washed it. So, when I pick up my car,
I see if it’s clean, and guess what I think. It’s fixed! You might be
laughing, but as long as they take of the outside, I assume they
take care of the inside. That’s the power of perception.

Coffee Stains
There is an interesting line that came from an airline executive
many years ago. He said this, “when passengers get on the
airplane, and pulled down the tray table, and see coffee stains on
the tray table, they also see poor engine maintenance”. My
question to you is, “what are your coffee stains?” What are the
things that your customers have to see or deal with that could taint
their perception?

Many years ago in a seminar, a woman who managed a doctor’s

office told me this: “I am standing here picturing our reception
room, and I’m seeing the close-to-death plants, and I wandered if
our patient seating there looking at our close-to-death plants are
saying, ‘if they could kill these, what could happen to me?’” It’s a
great point.

What things do you need to improve? What are your coffee

stains? Remember we must see our responsiveness from the
customer’s view.
Review: Quality #2 Lets review our second quality service characteristics –

1. Solve Their Problems Quickly

2. Take Ownership
3. Follow Through
4. Ask Yourself, “What are your coffee stains?”

Quality #3: Make the Customers want to feel valued, respected, and important. I was
Customer Feel Valued checking into a motel one night in South Carolina, and since the
motel has been booked for me I was not sure what to expect.
Inside the front desk is protected by a glass shield with a small
cut-out hole where I could speak to the person behind the desk.
Inside the glass is a sign that if I commit armed robber I would be
imprison for a minimum of 7 years. At that moment, waiting to
check into that motel, I did not feel valued.

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Customer Service: In the details

Customers expect high quality in the respect and the service that
we give them. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

Tone of Voice
Customers expect a certain tone of voice, a warm, friendly upbeat
tone. Too often when I am being served, I am greeted by someone
that said, “may a elp you!” Have you notice that “May I help
you?” has become “may a elp you!” That’s not upbeat or friendly.
I recommend recording your voice while talking with the customer
so that you can hear how you come across. Evaluate your own
tone of voice.

Body Language
And additionally, ask yourself what your body is saying. Now,
many of us spend time on the phone with customers, remember,
body language makes a difference on the phone also. If you are
slump in your chair, your energy level is affected and that can be
heard over the phone. If we are face-to-face, we certainly need to
pay attention to body language. Do we make eye contact; we
answer our phone, while a customer is waiting face-to-face, and
roll our eyes about what the caller is discussing. The waiting
customer can observe that, and that does not help your customer
feel valued.

So two (2) things you could do to make your customer feel

valued are:
1. Make sure you use the appropriate tone of voice, and
2. proper body language

Simple Manners Another thing that helps our customers feel valued is simply
paying attention to our manners. It’s as simple as saying, “Thank
you, we appreciate your business”. Too often people hand us an
item or hang up the phone and say “bye” without a word of

Using Customer’s Name Do you pay attention to the details like using the customer’s
name? Always use the customer’s name when you can. Do not
over do it. In a brief conversation, use the customer’s name 2 or 3
times; go formal using Mr., Mrs., Dr., unless your customer ask
you to use their first name. Now, let’s talk about a difficult
situation, what do you do if you can’t pronounce their first name?
It’s simple. If the customer’s name is difficult to pronounce,
politely ask for help in pronouncing it. Then make sure you store
the pronunciation in your records so you can get it right the next
time. Customers appreciate the fact that you take the time to get
their names right.
Using the Right Word
There are few other details that can help your customers feel

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1. The words we use: Use certain words but avoid others.

Here is an example:
a. use the word “Can,” Not “Can’t”. Customers do not
want to know what you can’t do; they simply want to
know what you can do for them.
b. Also, customers don’t like to hear the word
“Transfer”. They fear they will never show up or
reach another living person again. Instead use words
like, “Let me connect you,” “Let me put in touch
with” or “Let me let you talk with”.
c. Use “Thank You,” not “I’m Sorry”. Hang on, I know
that there are appropriate times to say I am sorry such
when we’ve been at fault and we need to recover.
However, let’s say I have a caller who has been on
hold and I am returning to them, instead of saying,
“I’m sorry you had to hold,” say, “Thanks for
holding”, “Thanks for waiting”. That comes across
much more positively. If you had an unhappy
customer waiting, and you come back with “I’m sorry
you had to wait,” that might cause them to come back
with, “You should be sorry. Every time I come in here
I have to wait.” Try “Thank You” instead.
d. Another word customers do not like to hear is
“policy”. Many times you must quote your company
policy, but don’t call it policy, instead say, “Here is
how we handle this”, or “Here is what we can do on
this”. If you do not use the word policy, the customer
may be more accepting of your explanation.

Review: Quality #3
Help Customers Feel Valued By Thinking About:

• Your Tone of Voice

• Your Body Language
• Simple Manners
• Using the Customer’s Name
• The Words You Use

Quality #4:- Being


Understand the customer’s

Problem The customers want to know that you really understand their
situation. Too often when the customers have a problem they feel
that you are working against and not trying to help them solve it.

Partner with the Customer

You need to get into a partnership with the customer where the
problem is the enemy, not you. You can do this through an
empathy statement. Empathy can create the bridge to you moving

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onto solving the customer’s problem. Empathy helps you ask the
right questions that would then help you solve the customer’s

Active Listening
Our customers simply want to know they been heard. To help our
customers know they been heard, remind yourself to listen, truly
listen. We all know what listening is. Let me review the four key
steps to active listening.
Four Keys to Active
1. Attentive Silence: this means your body posture is alert.
You’ve got eye contact and you are focus on what the
customer is saying.

2. Attentive Words: If you are on the phone and you only

use attentive silence, what would the customer say? “Are
you there? Hello” Exactly. So, we must follow through
with words like “Aha!”, “Yes” “I see” “Really” Simply
use attentive words to let the customer know that you are
with them. Certainly do that face-face also.

3. Ask Door Opener Questions: These are the questions

that begin with who, what, where, when, and how. They
invite the customer to continue talking, to open up. In
many cases, we not quite clear what is it the customer
need or want, or what situation are they speaking of, or
what they’ve been promised. We need them to talk so we
can clearly understand what they need.

Door opener questions help the customer tell you what

they want and help clearly understand what their needs.
4. Restate: Notice that it is called restating not repeating. No
one likes having their exact words repeated. With
restating, you check to ensure that you are on track before
you continue with the customer.

Please keep this mind - there is a difference between

listening and waiting for your turn to talk. Too often we wait
for our turn to talk, especially if we are experience in dealing
with customers; customers don’t say that many new things.
They put a word out, you pretty know what the next 56
words would be, so you tune out and prepare your own
response. We aren’t really listening; we’re simply waiting
for our turn talk. Listening is the key skill that will help you
provide empathy to your customer.

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Review: Quality #4 Empathy

1. Understand the customer’s Problem;

2. Form a Partnership with the Customer (using an empathy
statement); and
3. Make the Problem the Enemy

Remind yourself to really listen to the customer. The four keys to

active listening are:

1. Attentive Silence
2. Attentive Words
3. Ask Door Opener Questions
4. Restate

Quality #5: Be
Competent This means when you are knowledgeable and the customer is
confident you can help them, the customer becomes less
demanding. Now, we face a lot of incompetence today.

Asking Questions to grow

Customers want us to be competent. They don’t want to deal with
two or three people to get what they need. In other to be
competent, you have to continue to learn and grow. To do this,
start by asking questions of your co-workers, your managers; learn
about all aspect of your job so you can be as confident as possible
when facing your customers.
Building Rapport with the
There is another way to show how confident you are, and that’s
simply by building rapport with your customers. When you think
about it, when you have rapport with someone, you have a
Learn and Grow

connection; customers always want that connection. Here is a way

Continuing to

to connect with your customer. Match your customer style. This


means when you are facing your customer and they talking really
fast and they have a sense of urgency, they would want you to
speed up also and match their urgency. If you have a customer
who is speaking a little slower and showing some concern, you
match that rate of speech and show concern. If you dealing with
someone who is extremely friendly, you would match them by
being friendly back. It’s a simple technique but it helps us to start
off on the part of showing how confidence we are, and therefore
giving the customer the confidence that you are the one who can
help them.

Review: Quality #5
Ask questions of your co-workers and managers, and build rapport
with your customers by matching the customer style.

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1. Reliability – Follow the Grandmother Rule

2. Responsiveness –Solve Your Customer’s Problem as
Quickly as Possible
3. Feel Valued – Be aware your tone of voice, body language
and the words you use. Pay attention to simple manners
4. Empathy – Understand the customer’s problem, form a
partnership with the customer and make the problem the
enemy; really listen to the customer
5. Competence

By delivering those five qualities, you can turn a one-time

customer to a life-time customer; and remember, the difference
between merely good service and exceptional service is in the

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Extract from the training video by Ed Brodow, author of Negotiate with Confidence.

Listening Is The level of your listening skill can determine whether you will be
Number One Key successful professionally or personally.

In this video, Ed Brodow, CEO of Ed Brodow and Sons of California

and one of America’s leading expert on negotiation and
communication, describes six practical steps you can use to become a
more effective listener.

Most people are poor listeners. We hear what we want to hear.

Regardless of your occupation, listening is of the key skill you need to
be successful.

6 Rules For
1. Develop the desire to listen
2. Let the other person do most of the talking
3. Ask lots of open-ended questions
4. Be Objective
5. Listen actively
6. Listen to body language

Rule #1: Develop

a desire to listen
What this means is, it is not enough for you just wake up one morning
and decides to be a great listener. You will not be a great listener until
you understand why its so important. And the reason is, if you give the
other person the opportunity, they will tell everything you need to know
in other to reach an agreement and satisfy your need. That’s what
communication is about, understanding each other.

Listening to others is your strongest weapon for success. On the other

hand, your failure to listen can result in misunderstanding and
ultimately, it can become the reason why things are not done right.

In so many cases, listening can make the difference between success

and failure. When we do not appreciate what difference effective
listening can make, and we become more interested in our point of
view than those of others, we are most likely to fail. We have not
developed a desire to listen.

The first step in becoming a great listener is acknowledging the

importance of what the other person is saying. Develop a desire to

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Now we come to the crust of the matter. I believe that being a really
good listener boils down to this.

Rule #2: Let the

other person do
most of the
talking This is where so many people have an obstacle. We want to get the first
word in, and we want to get the last word in. In other words, we think
that communication means talking. Take it from me, communication
means listening. And the only way I know of that you can do this is by
not speaking. To help you, Rule #2 is also called the 70/30 Rule. This
means listen 70% of the time, and talk 30% of the time. This gives you
a mathematical formula to follow. I do not expect that you would
follow it precisely but it gives you a model to work from: Listen 70%
of the time, and talk only 30 % of the time.

Now, as a practical matter, what often happens is this: you are

following Rule #2 and you are letting the other person do most of the
talking. All of a sudden, the other person said something that you
disagree with; and what do you do? You interrupt them, of course. You
say, “hey, wait a minute” “hold on there” Now, you have just defeated
your purpose which was to let them do most of the talking. So, the next
time you are about to interrupt somebody, ask your self, “is this really
necessary?” I guarantee you, its probably is not.

Do not

Remember, the most important step to become a good listener is not to

talk. Let the other person do most of the talking. I know how difficult
this may be, but after what I am about to tell you, it will never be
difficult for you again. Are you ready? Here is it:

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Rule #3: Ask lots

of open-ended
As a good listener, your objective is to get the other person carry the
conversation. What of they don’t say anything? How can you listen if
nothing is being said? Think of yourself as a detective interviewing a
suspect. By asking them open-ended question, you force them to open
up. By the way, in case you have been wandering what an open-ended
question is, it’s a question that can not be answered with a simple “yes”
or “no” answer. The other person is forced to give you a long,
thoughtful answer. This is terrific because what you are trying to do is
let them carry the conversation. When you ask someone an open-ended
question, you are inviting them to talk. That’s like making them an
offer they can not refuse because the fact is, we all love to talk.

Being a detective and asking open-ended questions will set the stage for
you to become a good listener. Getting back to our original objective,
understanding the other person, do you see how this can help? Asking
questions and listening is the best way to understand other people.
Asking questions and listening will help to clarify the other person

Rule #4: Be
Objective We only human and we have a tendency to interpret what we hear. We
are judgmental. Instead of hearing what the other person is saying, we
hear what we want to hear. We let our feelings distort the facts.

Be careful that you do not let your feelings or preconceived ideas to

interfere with what the other person is saying. I am not suggesting that
you should always agree with the other person, nor am I suggesting that
you are not entitled to your feelings about what is being said. I am
urging you to separate the facts from your feelings about those facts; be
an objective listener.

Rule #5: Listen

Active listening means you are listening in a way that let the other
person know you are listening. Have you tried to talk to someone only
to have them engage in another activity while you speak, may be they
were reading the newspaper or they were working on the computer? If
this has happened to you then you know how irritated this behavior can
be. The other person may have been listening to you, but you did not
think so. They failed to communicate to you that they were listening.

Please understand. It is not enough that you simply listened, you have
to communicate to the other person that you are being held. This is
called active listening.

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Four Tips for Active Listening

1. Move into a listening position: this involves physical behavior;

focus on the speaker and let your body express this; lean in to
the speaker as oppose to facing away from the speaker or
folding your arms or performing another task. Also, make eye
contact; it does not mean you have to stare at them; you can
take away your eye from time to time, but on the whole
maintain your eye contact.

2. Take notes: In my experience nothing works better for active

listening than taking notes. Have a yellow pad handy, and say,
“if you do not mind, I would like to take some note” It works
for a couple of good reasons. First, its flattery to the speaker
because they know they have your full attention; plus it helps
you because you will remember what you write down.

3. Give encouraging responses: You can say things like, “I

understand, or I can see your point” or “I think I know where
you are coming from” Or you can make empathetic noises like,
“hmm”, “aha” “hah” Now, this may seem silly to you, but
believe me, its works. People need feedback. Or you can simple
nod your head; this encourages the speaker to keep going.

4. Repeat what they said: “Let me be sure I understand what you

are saying. You are saying that …” and then you feed back to
them what they just said. This reassures them that they have
been heard. It also help to prevent misunderstanding because if
you repeat it back incorrectly, then they have an opportunity to
correct you.

Rule #6: Listen

To Body
Language To be a good listener is just as important to listen to what is not being
said. Studies have shown that 90% of all communications is non-verbal.
The other negotiator may be communicating with you via body
language; you need to decode this non-verbal message. Examples of
typical body language are:
• folding the arms - this signifies that the other person is pulling
away from you or that they are feeling defensive;
• another one is looking away - the lack of eye contact suggests
that they are uncomfortable about something;
• doing something else – if they are involve in other activities
while talking with you, they are sending you a strong message.
You need to listen to these non-verbal messages.

For example, have you ever experienced this – the person you are
talking to says that there are content, that everything is ok, that they

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agree with you, but their body language contradicts what they are
saying; they sulk, or they do not make eye-contact with you; or the
muscles in their face become tight. When body language contradicts
spoken language, it’s a sure sign that something is wrong. It is really
important to listen to that non-verbal communication.


Well, as you have seen, listening is all that difficult, but like all other
human endeavors, it requires a commitment. You can make that
commitment to become a great listener by following the six rules:

1. Develop the desire to listen; once you have the motivation -

2. Let the other person do most of the talking, and to help them
along -
3. Ask lots of open-ended questions; do not jump to conclusion -
4. Be Objective; be sure the other knows you are listening -
5. Listen actively; and be sure to listen for what is not being said -
6. Listen to body language

Believe me; developing your listening skill is the best investment you
can make.

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What is the biggest obstacle to The biggest problem people have that stop them from listening
effective listening? is that they think that what they have to say is so important;
they think that if they don’t say it to the other person
everything is going to get strewed u, and usually it’s the other
way around. People have to learn that the important thing is
listening; the important thing is what the other person said.
It’s a very hard lesson to learn; that’s why people keep
interrupting, that’s why people just don’t get it; they don’t
want to listen because they want to talk.

How do you learn to I used to interrupt people constantly, and I had a mentor when
overcome this? I was in the Marine Corp. A very kindly Colonel said to me
one day, “Lieutenant, you don’t listen!” He explained to me
that I was constantly interrupting and I should be listening
more. Then when I go out of the service I got a job in sales and
it really, it really hit home because if I went in to a prospect
office and I started to make a flowery presentation, I was out;
they would through me out; but if I kept my mouth shut and I
listened to them and I let them tell me what their problems
were and may be I asked a few open-ended questions to get
them going, they love it… it was an opportunity for them to tell
somebody what their problems were. So they like me and they
bought from me. So I had my nuts screwed well and I learnt
the importance of keeping my mouth shut.

What is one example of how Well a good example of how we don’t listen objectively
we don’t listen objectively? actually happened to me. I was in France, I was having lunch
at a bistro in St. Paul de Vence, a picturesque hill town in the
south of France. In my fractured French, I tried to order a
bottle of beer.
"Je voudrais une bouteille de biere, sil vous plait." I would like
a bottle of beer, I told the waitress.

So, the waitress looks at me and she said “in a can” and I said
“no, not in a can, I want it in the bottle ……”

She said “Monsieur, in a can” and I said “no, not in a can, in

a bottle …” and she said “monsieur, in a can!”

I had it already, I said “look, not in a can, I want it in a bottle,

give it to me in a bottle!”

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The lady storms off and she comes back with a bottle of

When you say “Heineken” in French, it sounds like “in a can”

which is what she was trying to tell me. She was trying to me
that she has a bottle of Heineken but I didn’t hear that. All I
hear was what I wanted to hear. I heard her saying “in a can”
If I had stop for a moment and thought about what she was
saying, listen to her, we would never have had any problems.
She thought I was nuts because I started to laugh hysterically
and of cause I’d be afraid to ever go into that restaurant

We tend to hear what we want to hear.

How do you maintain your Hmm … taking notes is really important. You should have a
attention when listening for a yellow pad tied to your wrist and when people talk take notes
long period of time? because that way, it gives you something to do, its active. The
problem with listening sometimes is that we have nothing to
do, people get tired of it. If you seat there and you are taking
notes, you are a detective, you are a reporter, you are
interviewing someone; and you cant get enough. You can even
ask him to slow down……”what did you say……” In that way,
it gives you something to do so that it does not seem like you
are listening forever.

Should we interrupt when People sometimes don’t give you the answers to the questions
people keep repeating that you want. So, the way you do that is by rephrasing your
themselves? questions. …………So, someone starts to repeat themselves or
they are not telling you what you need, then you simply
rephrase your questions, ask a different question; but the
question method is full-prove, it works and this way you don’t
have to say “hey, you are not answering my questions; or
would you please shut up and stop repeating that all over
again” Just ask a slightly different question.

What should you do when Well, every often we don’t have time to listen to what to what
you’re busy and don’t have the other person is saying, and what do we do? We ignore
time to listen? them; we tell them to shut up; we say go away. Every simple
thing you can do is to explain to the person that you are
interested in what they have to say but the timing is bad, so
you would rather a better time when you can listen to them.

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How should we handle people Yes, that’s a problem. When people disagree with us, we tend
who disagree with us? to shut them off, and we want to come back with our point of
view; we want to argue with them. What I say is acknowledge
the other person position. You ought to have your feeling
about what they said but you don’t have to necessarily inflict
your feelings on the other person. You want to be as objective
as possible. So instead of shutting off, let them really explain
what they are saying if you don’t understand. … let them
really spell it out for you and take notes rather than trying to
shut them off or shut yourself off because you do yourself as
much an injustice as you do the other person. That’s why
listening is such a wonderful skill because it enables us to
transcend our own feelings, our own superstitions, our own
opinions, and preconceived notions; and it really allows you to
get into the mind of the other person and find out what is going
on; that’s communication, understanding each other.

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Extract from the training video on “Customer Service: You are in Control” by Jean Lebedun


INTRODUCTION How do you handle difficult customers? That’s one of the most
burning questions asked by customer service professionals. And
frankly its not that had to deal with people who are courteous, and
polite and pleasant; it’s the difficult demanding people who really
challenge us. Do you ever feel your heart beating faster and your
frustration level going higher?

OBJECTIVE To help you learn how to deal with difficult and angry customers
in a way that would make your job easier, more enjoyable, and
more rewarding.

Customer Service Angry customers often attack or blame, and if we are not careful
Don’ts we catch that attitude from them and start attacking back. That’s
when we need to remember the five (5) don’ts in customer service.

1. Don’t argue: When you beginning to argue, you move the

goal of the dialogue from solving the real problem to
winning the argument.
2. Don’t attack: attacking the other person changes the
dynamics of the dialogue, and focuses the conversation on
the negative size of the situation.
3. Don’t blame: remember the motto “the customer is always
right”, we will talk about that later but now you must
understand that your job is to solve their problem, not push
it back on them.
4. Don’t tell the customer to calm down: it’s the worst thing
you could do. This is a type of blaming, saying in effect,
“what you feel is wrong”.
5. Don’t ask for understanding: If you ask for
understanding, you put yourself in a weak position. For
example, if you were to say, “Please understand our own
position. We’ve had 3 people calling sick today” What
customer would have any confidence in your organization
now? Is it their fault that these people called in sick? Your
goal in dealing with an angry customer is accept and work
with the customer to defuse their anger and solve their

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Responses to Angry You have three (3) choices when responding to angry customers:
1. Get Upset: You can get upset. Its easy to do but its not
2. Become Indifferent: You can become indifferent; you see
employees that develop that thick skin, they are cold and
3. Accept the challenge: to deal with the situation in caring
and respectful, professional manner.

Professional customer service representatives choose this third

option and look to it as an opportunity to make things right and
retain their customers. After all, what if they did not bring us their
anger but just took their business else where? We need to hear
what is going wrong, even if its just the customers’ perception so
we can take action.

Here is the good news. If you take the right action, and the
customers’ complains are resolved quickly, 95% of them will
remain loyal; that means keeping your business strong, and
maintains a good public image.

So, here is your challenge. Can you open to their anger? It shows
in your words, tune of voice, and body language.

Steps to Handling 1. Listen

Angry Customers 2. Summarize
3. Mutually Determine the Solution
4. Follow Through

Be sure to use them in that order. Don’t summarize before the

customer is through venting, and don’t give a solution before the
customer is ready to hear it. You have got to first handle their
emotions and then begin to work on their real problems.

So, why do you listen first? Its because this is the heart of the
defusing process. Have you ever notice how people just need to tell
their story? And you need to give them a chance to say what is on
their minds to let off steam in order to calm down. That’s actually
how calming down works. You can not calm a customer down,
they calm themselves down, but they need a listener for the process
to work.

By listening, you open a communication channel, which you can

use later for problem solving. Asking questions lets you listen.

Be sure to listen not only to words but to body language as well. In

fact, you can spot hidden anger in non-verbal signals such as the
clinched jaw, closed arms, or foot tapping impatiently. When you

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see these non-verbal signals you should respond by asking

questions to draw out the anger and allow verbalization.

Let’s take a moment and talk about asking questions. Its one of the
most important customer service skills you can use. When you ask
questions appropriately here is what you will accomplish:

• You let the customer vent

• You gain a better understanding of the real problem
• You begin building rapport

I am sure you have heard of open-ended questions versus closed-

ended questions. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a
simple yes or no answer. They usually begin with who, what,
when, where, why or how. In dealing with the customer service
situation that is difficult, these types of questions are used to gather
general facts about the problem such as:
• What problem are you having with the product?
• Why do you feel there was an error?

Once you understand exactly what the problem is, you can then use
close-ended questions to work towards a solution and gain the
customer’s agreement. You might ask:
• When did you purchase the item?
• Whom did you speak to last?

By asking open-ended and then closed-ended questions, you not

only get the facts you need, but you also help your customers
gather their thoughts.

Let look at the first step in dealing with an angry customer:

#1 Step: Listen
You start by accepting the anger and opening up to what the
customer has to say. It would be the same on the phone as in face-
to-face meeting, use open-ended questions and gradually move in
to close-ended questions for fact-finding. Now you are ready for
step # 2.

#2 Step:
Summarize The purpose of this step is to check your understanding of the real
problem; but its more than just facts. When you clarify your
understanding reflecting what you’ve heard, your customer knows
that he has been taken seriously; that you cared enough to listen.
And in a way this step is just a confirmation of the first one –
Listening. By summarizing, you have established that its you and
the customer against the problem, you against the customer. And

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you can also make a smooth transition from this step to the next

#3 Step: Mutually
Determine a In this solution step, involve the customer in arriving at an
Solution agreeable solution. That’s how to turn a situation that started out
negative and antagonistic into a positive situation. Remember to
keep your language positive, emphasizing what you can do and
not what you can not.

Here are some common negative words translated into positive


Negative: We couldn’t possible have that by Monday.

Positive: We can have that on Tuesday

Negative: You will have to give us your social security

Positive: Please give us your social security number

Negative: I’ll have to ask the main office.

Positive: I’ll be glad to call the main office.

You will find that customers really warm up to these helpful

words, especially when you get into the sticky situation of having
to say “no” to a customer.

Saying “no” is one of the most difficult situations you will ever
face in customer service. The professional way to say “no” is to
avoid actually saying the word “no”. Instead, make “can do” the
heart of your response:

• If a customer wants a delivery by 2:00pm and you can not

make it, say something like “We can have that delivery at
your office by 3:30.”

• If the customer wants an item in the color beach, you

respond as close as possible “ We can get that for you in
either ivory or soft brown”

Be sure to keep your voice and face optimistic because that attitude
often carries right over to the customer.

You may face the most frustrating “no” of all, when it’s too late to
fix the situation. In this case your “can do” statement is about the
future. For example you could say,

• “Next time, if you give us two days notice, we can include

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that information.”

• Next time, if you have your receipt, we can make an

exchange immediately.”

Everything about you needs to say “I truly care about you as a

customer and I am on your side” We never want the customer to
think of you as the organization setting up obstacles.

#4 Step: Follow
Through Follow through with the solution you mutually determined. As a
customer there is nothing worse than determining a solution and
then not having follow through. Do what you say you are going to
do. What about if you talking to a customer on the phone? The
system is the same. The only difference on the phone is that we
cannot see each other body language. So listen between the lines
for subtleties that reveal hidden anger such as a very insistence

Other clues of growing anger may be:

• A change in the pitch of the voice, either higher or lower
• Unusual pauses
• Sentences coming in short emotional burst

“Sorting” Some customers however are more open with their anger on the
phone. The distance from you helps them feel anonymous, so they
will really let loose. When you hear excessive language, here is a
tip – practice the skill called “sorting”. Sort out the negative words
and tone of voice so you can concentrate on the real problem.
Place a higher priority on the part of the message that conveys
what the real problem is. Sorting helps you stay focus. It can be
used face-to-face as well as on the phone.
For telephone situations here are three (3) special tips:

• Verbal Attends: Use verbal attends to let the customer

know you are listening; use phrases like:

ƒ “Ok” or
ƒ “I see” or
ƒ “go ahead”

On the phone your customer might assume you are not

really listening; silence might be interpreted as impatience.

• Internal Summaries: Use internal summaries to show the

customer that you are listening and understanding. Make
your responses short and on-going. For example you might
say, “If I understand you correctly, you just found out that

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the item was on back order.” These internal summaries

keep the two of you connected even though you cannot
actually see each other. It shows the customer that you truly
care about helping them.

• Describe what you are doing: Remember that you silence

may come across as negative. The customer feels neglected
unless you explain.

What do you do Let’s consider one finally sticky situation.

when the
customer is I know that the very idea contradicts our famous motor, “the
customer is always right” Well customer believe they are right. It’s
wrong? just that sometimes they have faulty information; in some instances
they may have just misunderstood the situation. However, there are
some people who on purpose, misrepresent the situation. A
customer may says she bought a merchandise from your store
whereas she bought it from somewhere else. Or the customers may
say they were told one thing when they were not. What do you do?

Customer Service
• Never make the customer wrong: Be sure you never
make the customer wrong by saying “you are wrong” or
“that’s not true” You don’t want a head-to-head battle.
• Keep things neutral: keep things neutral by stating the
• Show or tell the customer where you are getting your
information – this will lend credibility to your answer.
• Don’t let things get personally threatening: by saying the
customer did not read the contract properly or he did not
pay attention.

So, here is the new motto, “Customers may not always be right,
but they are our customers” Even the unpleasant ones deserve our
attention and consideration. Your customer is looking for action,
looking for someone to help with their problems.

One final tip: Do something extra for the customer. It may not cost
you much, but it will repay handsomely.

SUMMARY Here is what it all comes down to. What story do you want your
customer to tell? Do you want them telling others that you argue
with them, got defensive, and made excuses? Or do you want them
to tell about a professional who listened respectfully, remained
patient, and help them solve their problem?

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One thing is certain. They will tell the story, and you could be the
villain or the hero. Its your choice.

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QUESTION What do you do if the customer just won’t

calm down?

ANSWER When a customer will not calm down, you

need to back to the first step, the Listening
step, because if you are in the second step,
Summarize, and the third step, Solution,
and you find there is still anger, go back to
the listening and give it a chance. There
might be a point when you actually give up
and you feel that there is a personality
clash between the two of you, now you have
a couple of options – transfer or postpone.

When you transfer the customer to

somebody else, you let a colleague take
over. When you postpone, you indicate to
the customer that you will check on the
issue and you will get back to the customer,
but be sure to exactly when you will be
getting back so that they will know that you
are not just getting rid of them. I think the
time out might help both of you a lot.

QUESTION What do you do when the customer was

misinformed by another employee?

Remember team work, and remember the
image of your organization. If you start
bad-mouthing another employee, it is going
to reflect on everyone including yourself.
So, be very careful how you refer to what
happened, something like this “I
understand a mistake was made” so that
way you are not blaming any individual.

QUESTION What do you do when the customer ask to

speak to your supervisor?

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Let the customer do it, because probably
that customer need an authority to give the
information. In many cases the supervisor
would say the same thing you did but it will
just have more credibility behind it. Don’t
be sensitive about this because the
customer might say “I need to talk to
somebody who knows something. We
recommend though that ahead of time you
find out what your supervisor guidelines
are. May be your supervisor wants you to
handle the customer up to a certain point,
so just find out about that in advance.

QUESTION What do you do when the customer just

won’t accept the solution you’re

ANSWER Honour the options that the customer

brings up; show empathy. In other words,
don’t argue with the customer. There does
come a time, however, when you can use a
skill called the broken record, don’t use it
early in the interaction or you will just
sound stubborn. Used it towards the end
when you need to draw line in the sand, the
broken record indicate what your last offer
is and to which you really do not have
anything to add. So your statement might
be “I need to have that receipt in order to
make that refund”, and if there is
argument, you say it again, and again and
again. That’s the broken record, but you
say it at the end, not at the beginning.

QUESTION How can you be sure the situation is

really over?

ANSWER Here are three extra steps to help you

bring closure to a difficult situation:

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1. Thank the customer: Say “Thank

you for bringing this up.” Say it

2. Ask if there is anything else. Now

that you are communicating, you
have a healing process going; find
out if there are other complaints.

3. Call the person later. About 2 days

later call the person. Now apply
this as it would work out in your
business, but the point is to check
with the customer to find out if that
solution really works.

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It your responsibility

An extract from the training video on Effective Communication

Being able to effectively communicate is not an easy thing to
do. This forms the basis for this training. Effective
communication, sometimes, involves improving your
listening skills so as to properly understand what is being
said; at other times, it is to do a better job of getting your
message across. Usually, we blame the other person when
the communication did not go all that well.

What you need to realize is that every communication that

you are a part of was your responsibility. There are only two
roles you can take in communication, one is to deliver a
message and the other is to hear it; the sender and the
receiver; the communicator and the listener. When you
deliver a message to someone, it is your responsibility to
send a clear message that can be easily understood. When
you listen to a message that someone else delivers, it is your
responsibility to hear and really work to understand it.

So, which is more important in successful communication -

sending a message or listening to it? It is whichever one you
are doing at the time.

Let us talk about how having good communication skills can

GOOD be the basis for achieving any success in your career or in
COMMUNICATION your personal life. Think about all the people you need to be
SKILL ARE THE BASIS able to communicate effectively with - your co-workers,
FOR ACHIEVING team members, boss, employees, friends, family, children

How well you are able to communicate your thought to those

people and understand theirs has a direct correlation to how
much success and satisfaction you will achieve. This part of
the training will focus on your role as both the sender and
receiver, as well as provide you with six key actions to
enhance your communication skills to increase your
effectiveness, and to improve your relationships. Do you
know that more work problems can be traced back to poor
communication than any other reason? So, what are the
primary reasons why there is so much room for

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1. People Think Differently: Some people are
relationship oriented in their thinking while others are
technical; some are aggressive and dominate while some are
shy and layback. Think about the different styles between
precise doctor, a timid neighbor, or a top local police officer;
what about the difference between a controlling co-worker,
an aggressive lawyer, and even a favorite television
character. Because people tend to think differently, they
communicate differently.
Therefore, to help overcome these communication
differences, we will talk about ways to send clear and more
understandable messages, and how to listen and understand
more effectively.
2. Word Interpretation: This is the second factor
leading to communication. For example the word ‘quality’,
what does it mean to you? While we all may generally use
the same word in discussions, we tend to understand and
interpret them in completely different ways. The word
“quality” might mean “technical perfection” to one person
while it means “reliable performance” to another. How do
you define it? Word interpretations like these can lead to
miscommunication. So, we will be talking about how to
check for understanding as both the sender and receiver.
3. Ego: The third factor that contributes to
miscommunication is our own ego, pride, personal opinion,
and defensiveness all get in our way. We give you some
strategies for keeping focus on the goals of the conversation
and away from your ego.
4. Poor Listening: The fourth factor in
miscommunication is poor listening and this is a big one.
Most of us think we are great listeners, when in fact, we are
terrible, therefore, we will spend some time in the art of
Your role as sender and receiver are equally important in
achieving successful communication. Where do we start?

Your Role as the Sender When you choose to communicate a message, you have a
goal in mind, to share information, to share feelings, may be
promote an idea, or sell a product. Whatever your message,
you are responsible for constructing a clear, precise message.
You cannot count on the listener to sort out your thoughts,
ideas, or objectives. You must do that yourself by knowing
and using the tools of communication effectively.

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Responsibility #1 - know and These tools of communication, when used properly, allow
use the tools of you to construct a clear, precise message. What are the tools?
1. Verbal Tools – These are the words you choose to
use during a communication. It is always best to use
precise, concrete words and images “Talk” is more
concrete than the word “discuss”, even though they
share a similar meaning. Just because you may have
learnt some attractive and very interesting words
from Oxford dictionary last week does not mean you
should use them when you are trying to achieve
communication. Remember that word interpretation
is a leading cause of miscommunication. So, keep
words simple, keep them clear why use the word
“repudiate” when you can say “reject”? Or ‘that is a
note worthy concept” make it simple with “that is a
good idea”

2. Vocal Tools – These are what you use to control

your voice through volume, tune, and pitch. When
you say something, you say it in a certain way. For
example, if I were to say, “I am glad you were able to
make it”, in a very lifeless tone. What would you
believe the words I choose, or the tone I used?
Exactly! When faced with a choice, a listener would
always believe the tone of voice over words used. So,
make sure your tone of voice, pitch, and volume
complements your words, not contradict them.

3. Physical Communication Tools - These are also

known as “Body Language”. Effective body language
is critical in achieving successful communication.
Actions like establishing and maintaining eye
contact, leaning forward to gain interaction or show
interest, and using hands and arms to gesture are very

Looking Relaxed One of the most difficult and important physical action you
can take during any kind of communication is to relax,
especially when delivering a tough message. You can even
practice looking relaxed when you are not because it will
make you appear more confident and your verbal massage
will be accepted easier. So, how do you look “relaxed”?
Release your massage so that you don’t have to think as you
go, lean forward, maintain and hold eye-contact, make sure
your tone of voice and volume are consistent with your
words, and your speech is clear and strong.

Weaknesses of body language Lets take a look at some of the weaknesses of body language
and see how to turn it into powerful communication skill.

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1. Eye Contact: When your eyes are glued to the floor,

or away from your listeners, it does not command
much respect or indicate confidence. So, TRY NOT
TO LOOK AT THE FLOOR! Instead, keep your
head up straight and deliver solid eye contact, DO
NOT STARE! Make sure you break eye contact
every 3-5 seconds. Direct eye contact shows
confidence and trust worthiness.

2. Posture - Do Not Slouch: A person who slouches

sends a message of disinterest, being rigid and
uptight says the person is nervous and scared. So, DO
NOT SLOUCH. What do you do then? Try to
maintain a relaxed confident posture by seating up
straight, keep your head erect, and your arms relaxed.
Remember, present a confident posture.

3. Avoid Nervous Gestures: Become aware of any

nervous gestures you may have such as tapping
pencils nervously, twisting rings, or bouncing feet.
Instead, keep your feet on the floor, or crossed neatly,
and use your arm and hand to gesture and support
your message.

These are your communication tools – verbal, vocal, and
physical. They can work either for you or against you.

Responsibility #2 - Know
what you want to achieve as a
result of communication It is your responsibility to know what you want to achieve by
communicating. You may not always be aware of this, but
whenever you talk to someone or send a memorandum, you
want something specific to happen. Perhaps to sell an idea,
to layout expectations, may be to change someone’s
behavior, to inform or get a boss update on a project, or even
obtain apology for something that was hurtful. As you know,
there are lots of reasons for communicating. Keep in mind
that you have a responsibility to know what your own goal is
for each communication, and what you want to achieve. How
do you do that?

• Think It Through: Think it through if possible

before your communication. As you, why am I
communicating this message? What is the ideal
action or result that I would like to achieve?

• Be Honest With Yourself: Be honest with

yourself especially when the communication is

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difficult. What do you really think, feel, and believe?

Unless you are true to yourself and express yourself
with openness, honesty, and confidence, you will
have a difficult time achieving your real objective for

Responsibility #3-
Understand Your Audience
Once you are clear to yourself on what you really want to
achieve, your next responsibility is to understand your
audience. Is your audience your boss, your spouse, your
team, co-worker, or your 10-year old son?

• Tailor your message:- to address the needs of your

audience. Keep focus on what you know about your
audience needs. There are few other things to keep in
mind about understanding and audience.

• Be aware:- that a listener or receiver is different from

you; the person may not think things through or go
about accomplishing results exactly as you do.

• Whenever possible, tailor your message

specifically to that person or group and their need.
For example, you need to sell your idea to a
supervisor, ask yourself, “What do I know about

• You May Not Agree or Have the same

Perspective: You and your audience may not agree
or have the same perspective on every idea or issue
that you present. Focus on making sure that the
listener understands your words and your perspective
rather than on changing theirs.

• Look for Common Ground: Try looking for

common grounds to agree on, and focus on the result
you would like to achieve.

Ok! Once you got a good idea about your goal, and thought
about whom you want to communicate to and their needs, its
time for your fourth responsibility.
Responsibility #4: develop It is important to simplify your message as much as possible,
and Present a clear, precise Which can reduce the opportunity to miscommunicate? How
message. do you do that?

• Write Out Key Points in Order of Importance: It

can be very helpful to write out the key points you
had like to get across, and order them in importance.

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Make sure all your key points support your goal.

• Make a list of Details with Examples: Make many

details to include examples to support your key
points. These are the issues you should try to stick to
during the conversation. It is very easy to get
sidetracked or stray from your intended
communication. When you add a lot of extra
information into a dialogue, it is then much more
difficult for the listener to understand your message.
So, keep it brief, to the point, and tailor-made to fit
the receiver needs.

You might be wandering of that time when you do not plan

to talk to someone and it just happens. Communication does
just happen spontaneously more often than not, and you do
not have time to pre-plan, but you can always take a moment
to determine a goal and pin-point a few points, even jotting
down on a piece of scrap paper. You can also make a mental
note of whom you are talking to, and what you know about
them, then the best you can, tailor your communication style
to suit their need and style.

Remember, as the communicator you are always responsible

for making sure you are understood.

• Plan the Communication: when you do have the

luxury of time, do some planning. Planning involves:

™ How Will You Begin? Plan what you are going

to say and as well as how you intend to deliver it.
Think about how you had delivered your
communication; is it with a statement of what you
want to achieve, or a stray to support your first

™ How Will You End Your Communication?

Think of how you will end your communication.
You might end with a list of actions that can be
taken as to overview your key points; you may
want to ask for something specific to happen
within a time line for achieving the objective.
How you conclude should directly support what
you wanted to achieve as a result of

™ Rehearse: Another key action in presenting a

clear, precise message is to rehearse. I find it
particularly very helpful when I have the

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opportunity to practice what I want to say; that

way I can sort out the snags of transition before I
seat down on someone.

™ Define Terms: If you are discussing a technical

subject or a topic that may not be common
knowledge to your audience but critical to your
message, take the time to define any term you
need to use in your communication. Do not leave
anything up to audience’s own interpretation.
Using illustrations and specific examples can also
be useful in creating a common understanding.

Now, what about when you deliver a difficult or sensitive

message? Let us say you have to ask someone to change his
or her behavior or deliver constructive criticism? The answer
lies in your fifth (5th) responsibility.

Responsibility #5: Focus on

Facts, Not Personalities, or
Opinions What about when delivering a difficult or sensitive message?
Let us say you have to ask someone to change a behavior, or
deliver some constructive criticism? The answer is Focus on
Facts, not personalities or opinions. Be careful not to attack
someone personally, they will likely only make the receiver
defensive. This means that you will not achieve your goal of
communication when you attack the person. If you attack
someone personally, they will generally just attack you back,
then you can throw your goal of establishing an
understanding and achieving result right out the doors.

Instead, focus on specific facts and examples that support

your objectives, not the person. If the receiver still gets
defensive, do not respond in kind, keep calm, and focus on
your goal.

Responsibility #6: Involve

the listener
It is important to find out if your message was delivered
effectively or if there issues to address that may hold you
back from achieving your desired result. You can do this
periodically during a conversation or at the end of a
presentation by asking for feedback through the use of
questions for clearer understanding.

Delivering effective communication is never easy. You can
improve your odds significantly by following the six (6)
responsibilities of a communicator.

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Responsibility #1: Know and Use Communications Tools


Verbal tools or the words you choose should be clear and

precise while your vocal and physical tools should be
consistent with your message.

Responsibility #2: Know What You Want to Achieve as a

Result of communicating with someone.

Responsibility #3: Make sure You Know, understand your

audience, and tailor your message to their needs.

Responsibility #4: Develop and present a clear, precise


Responsibility #5: Focus on facts, not personalities, or


Responsibility #6: Involve the listener in the communication.

Your Role as the Receiver

Now, its time to flip side and look at your role as the
receiver. Remember, we earlier mentioned that as
communicator you are responsible for making sure you are
understood. So, does that mean that as the receiver you can
jest relax? Actually, no! As the receiver, you are responsible
for understanding the message of the communicator through
pro-active listening. Your goal now becomes to understand,
not to be understood.

Actually, listening ranks as one of the most valuable

communication tool. Experts say that up to forty per cent of
your compensation correlates directly to how well you listen
on you current job. That means, improve your listening, and
increase your worth. Let us now talk about your listening
responsibilities and how you can pro-actively listen to obtain
a clearer understanding of the communicator’s intended

Responsibility #1: Listen to

the Speaker’s Perspective, not
Your first responsibility is to listen to the speaker’s
perspective, not your own. You have to work hard to put
your own thoughts and feelings aside and make sure you
understand the communicator’s perspective. One trick that I
have learned is to remind myself upfront and throughout the
conversation that understanding another person’s perspective
does not mean I have to agree with them or support them, but

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that I do have an obligation to understand what is being


The highest compliment you can give another person is to

respect, listen, and acknowledge his/her opinion. If you find
this difficult to do a times, take a moment to self-Evaluate
and determine the things that tends to upset you from hearing
what another has to say. If you feel that you have to defend
yourself, you get upset when you think that someone is
wrong or misinformed, or you have a hard time with
constructive criticism; you can control these barriers to
effective listening by knowing that you do not have to agree,
just understand.

Do not pre-judge someone or his/her message. Instead of

getting defensive if attacked, stay calm and acknowledge
their perspective or opinion. Ask questions that would help
find and hear the real problems.

After you have fully listened to and acknowledge the

speaker’s perspective, you can clarify information or share
your own point of view. Remember, that there are many
points of view to consider and separating yours takes mental
toughness and discipline.

Responsibility #2: Listen to

Body Language Your second responsibility as the receiver is to listen to body
language; it is a big part to understanding the real message.
If you watch body language, you are most likely to use
hidden message. When contradiction exits between words
and body language, you had found that the silent one would
speak the loudest. If something about a person’s body
language or even tone of voice does not match the message,
probe harder with a question.

What about your language as the listener? How can you

show that you care and that you are truly interested and
involved in the discussion?

You can do that by:

a) Face the speaker: Face the other person and give

your full attention.
b) Nod Your Head: Nod your head to show that
you understand or are in tone with what being
c) Lean Forward: Try leaning forward to show
your interest.
d) Eye-contact: Make strong direct eye contact

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e) Try Not To Look At Your Watch: Be careful

not to look at your watch that says you had rather
be somewhere else.
f) Avoid Nervous Gestures: Do not display
nervous gestures such as doodling or playing with
g) Deliver Solid Eye Contact: Do not interrupt or
lose eye contact for long periods of time.

Remember that body language sends a stronger message than

words. Make sure that you, as a listener, send a signal that
you care and that you are interested. In addition, listen to the
body language of the communicator. If they are consistent
with the message he/she is sending, ask questions to uncover
the real issues and feelings.

Responsibility #3: Listen

Precisely Your third responsibility as the receiver of the message is to
listen precisely. Do not count on the speaker to effectively
deliver the message.
• Participate in the message to make sure you
understand the communication. Ask a question if you
do not understand a word or comment.
• React and Response to Each of The Speaker’s Key
• Another action you could take to help you listen
precisely is to respond to each of the speaker’s key
point. This also helps to keep you in the moment and
let the speaker know you are following with “I see”
or “I understand”. Be a part of the communication,
not just a sounding board.

Responsibility #4: Listen to

feelings and Empathize You are forth responsibility as an effective listener is to
listen to feelings and empathize. Try to understand what that
person is saying from their point of view; what are they
feeling? Is the person hurt, angry, upset, excited, or
motivated? Reflect that you hear and understand their

It is much, more effective as a listener, when you let the

other person know that you care about their feelings and
acknowledge them. You can do this verbally by telling the
person that you understand, vocally by making volume and
intensity, or physically by matching their body language.

As a listener, you have to be aware of your own feelings,

emotions, and make a conscious effort to put them aside,

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getting defensive wont help you to achieve your goal of

understanding the communicator’s message. That is not
always easy, especially when someone is upset and taking it
out on you.

When you find yourself getting defensive, remind yourself

that you have to deal with feelings, not your reaction to
them. Focus on facts, and let your words and body language
show that you care and want to listen.

Remember you do not have to agree with the message; you

just need to understand it. Moreover, how do you do that? By
probing for the facts and real issues, which lead to your next

Responsibility #5: Listen For

More Do not assume that you have made a connection so soon, let
the speaker get it all out; do not cut the person off with your
opinions or perspective, even to correct them. Do encourage
the speaker to go on. If you think he/she is wrong, or do not
understand their perspective, dig deeper. You can do that by
asking more questions.

As hard as it may be at times, avoid giving advice, or

diverting the conversation to an area where you are more
comfortable. Be patience with the communicator and do not
get defensive. You either willing listen or you are not.

Responsibility #6: Listen to Your final responsibility as a listener or receiver of a

Understand by Giving message is to listen to understand by giving feedback. Now
Feedback and then, check with the speaker to make sure you
understand the intended meaning; paraphrase what you

Feedback is critical to the process of proactive listening. It

not only ensures that you understand the communicator’s
intended message, but it also keeps you from having your
own conversations. As you seek to understand, you cannot
spend time trying to fig out you are giving to say next or how
you can change the speaker’s perspective.

Therefore, as the receiver take the responsibility for making

sure you get the message right. Just think what could happen
if everyone did that. As I said that, the only person you can
rely upon is your self.

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SUMMARY 1. Listen to Speaker’s Perspective, not yours.

2. Listen to Body Language – when words don’t match

body language, probe or dig deeper to find out what
is really been said.

3. Listen Precisely – do not rely on the communicator to

be clear.

4. Listen to Feelings and Empathize – do not get


5. Listen for more – do not assume you understand, dig


6. Listen to understand by giving feedback – to confirm

your understanding.

Communicating effectively can increase your confidence and

promote your success, both professionally and personally.

Take control of all your communications. Deliver messages

that can be more easily understood even by the worst

In addition, give one of the most powerful and beneficial gift

of listening by acknowledging and understanding another
person point of view.

Never has there been a time in business when good

communication skills have been more important or more
valued. It is your hands to become a better communicator by
taking and using the six (6) responsibilities to becoming an
effective sender or receiver.

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Extract from the training video on Giving and Receiving Criticism by Jean Lebedun

INTRODUCTION Criticism is one of the most sensitive areas of communication.

Why? Because most of us think of it as negative. Oh, we love
positive feedback, compliments, praise. Positive feedback is
pleasant both for the giver and the receiver. With criticism, people
often get their feelings hurt or they become angry, and that could
make you to dread giving criticism because you are afraid of
triggering of those reactions. Receiving criticism can be difficult
as well.

In this training, I will share with you some of the skills for giving
and receiving criticism.

Benefits of Criticism
You might be wandering why we don’t just stop criticizing with
other. It’s because when criticism is done correctly, it can be a
great way to learn. When you hear about fault, mistake or a
problem, you have the opportunity to correct them, and to learn
how to avoid the same error the next time. We should strive to
learn and grow not by building on our strength, but also by
improving on our weaknesses. Properly giving and receiving
criticisms can help identify these areas of potential growth and

Think of criticism as a career issue. Personal growth in your field

depends on learning from every situation, especially when people
see problems in your work. If you become argumentative or
defensive, it could have a serious negative impart on your career.

Criticism is also a team work issue. Team members are constantly

been told to give feedback to each other, communicate openness,
and identify problems. Look at what could happen when team
members don’t have the ability to give and receive criticisms

Being able to handle criticism is good for your team, your

organization, and your customers. Lets begin our journey to
become a criticism expect by learning how to receive criticism.

CRITICISM Its easy to take criticism when its constructive and the critique’s
skill is diplomatic. However, the challenge comes when we have
to take criticism from someone who is not particularly
constructive in their communication style. We must learn to be

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objective and open-minded even if the person giving the criticism

is not. In most cases you can’t change the person giving the
criticism but you can learn how to control your respond to
criticism. People usually respond to criticism in one of three ways:

1. Fight
2. Flight
3. Evaluate

Lets compare being criticize to someone throwing a stick at you. If

someone throws a stick at you, you might do one of three things:

Fight Reaction 1. You might pick up that stick and throw it back at the other
person. That’s the fight reaction; its quick and aggressive.
When we do this while receiving criticism, the overall
message is, “that couldn’t be true” or “you don’t know
what you are talking about.”
This is how a person responds when they feel they are
above criticism.

Flight Reaction 2. A second way to respond when you see someone throw a
stick at you is to run away from the other person to prevent
further conflict. This is the Flight respond. Some of us feel
over-whelmed and intimidated when we are criticized. We
think, “I can’t do anything right” or “this is so unfair.”
This is how a person response when they lack self-
confidence or they have been hurt by poorly giving
criticism in the past.

Evaluate Reaction 3. The third and final reaction to criticism is Evaluate. This is
the one we should strive for. Instead of being defensive or
running away from the problem, lets decide to pick up that
stick and examine it. Ask the person who threw it to
explain why they did so. This way you seek to understand
the criticism and analyze it.

The Three A’s for

Receiving Criticism 1. Acknowledge: You acknowledge the issue that the critique
has brought up. You should do this in a neutral way, not
agreeing or disagreeing. Just let the person know that you
are willing to discuss the situation. Don’t become
defensive; if you do, you limit your ability to find what is
really going on.

2. Ask questions: This step help both you and the person you
are communicating with. By asking questions, you show a
sincere interest in understanding the problem. You also
achieve emotional balance by beginning to treat criticism
as facts instead of personal attack.

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When we take criticism as personal attack we feel dejected

and hurt. The oldest advice in the world is, “Don’t Take It
Personally” is good advice but difficult to apply unless we
turn it into action. Here is a better advice, “Do Take It

When faced with a personal attack, translate it to a

professional level. Ask questions that apply to your work
performance. This way you can skew the conversation to
object issues.

Another advantage to asking questions is that you can help

the critique to be specific. Some people give criticism in
such general terms you can’t understand what they mean.
Ask clarifying questions like, “Can you give me a specific
example?” or “Can you show me exactly what you mean?”
In this way, you help the other person better communicate
the information they intend to convey. If someone said,
“Your staff meetings are boring” It’s a blank
condemnation and very frustrating to hear. But when you
get specifics, you may find out that your co-workers thinks
you spend 5 minutes too long on the company’s
announcement. Now that’s not really so bad, at least it’s an
issue you can do something about.

3. Action: In steps 1 and 2 above you worked to understand

the criticism. Now you must make a commitment to take
action. An action may be to look into the situation, may be
check your data or consult other people who are involved.
Or an action could be to setup a follow up meeting for the
two of you to decide how to proceed. The key is to commit
to taking some kind of action, otherwise the time spent to
understand the criticism as well as the time spent giving
the criticism would have been wasted.

Review: Receiving Remember, learning to receive criticism in a constructive,

Criticism professional way takes practice. Use the three A’s – Acknowledge,
Ask questions, and take Action to make the most of the situation.

CRITICISM Now let’s talk about giving criticism. Your goal in giving criticism
is to help your listener avoid the Fight or Flight reactions in favour
of the Evaluate reaction. You want the criticism to be non-

When giving criticism, avoid generalities and irritating words like

“always” in favour of giving specific times and dates in a positive
manner. This makes it easier for you to be taken seriously.

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Effective criticism depends not only on what you say at the time of
the criticism but also on what you say leading on to the criticism
and after. Long before any difficult issue comes up, you need to be
laying the ground work to promote effective criticism.

Laying the
Groundwork 1. Offer positive feedback on a regular basis. It’s a nice
surprise when your colleagues hear you say, “thanks for
getting back to me quickly” or “I’m glad you included me
in the meeting today.” Brief sincere statements let the other
person know that they are appreciated. The pay-off is that
the other person would listen more attentively when you
offer criticism.

When people automatically reject criticism, its usually

because that’s all they hear Its natural to get defensive
when all a person hears is negative feedback. Instead be a
strategic communicator. Give reinforcing feedback
whenever possible. They will ultimately pay-off.

2. Examine your own intentions: Do you intend to be

helpful or are you just venting? Being helpful is the only
legitimate reason for criticism. How many times have we
heard people brat off out of frustration? Before criticizing,
ask yourself, “what is my goal? What do I want the result
to be?” Effective criticism depends on understanding your
own goals and objectives.

Now that we have laid the groundwork, let’s look at the actual step
to giving criticism. There are three guidelines to giving effective

Guidelines for Giving

Criticism 1. Be Specific: Explain the problem in specific details, not
ambiguous comments. Sometimes people resist this in their
speech, because they think he would sound too picky.
Actually by being specific, you communicate your
criticism clearly, and you help the person receiving the
feed back to better understand the situation.
2. Focus on the future not the past: You may need to
reverence the past to explain what happened but your
emphasis should be on the future; talk about what change
you are hoping for; explore possibility. This way you can
bare your goal and not an insult.
3. Avoid personal attacks: If there is one way to shut down
communication and turn on defensiveness is personal
attack. Choose your words carefully. Don’t call a person
irresponsible, take about Deadline being missed; don’t call
a person rude, talk about Standards of Courtesy; don’t call

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a person Sloppy and Careless, talk about Attention to

Detail. It’s a matter of being tactful. “Tact” has been
defined as the act of making a point without making an
enemy. Be sure you get your point across tactfully. Your
tactfulness will make the other person be more willing to
listen to what you have to say.

So, you have laid the groundwork, and you know the three
guidelines for giving effective criticism. Now lets take a moment
to look at a formula that gives you gives a way to organize your
communication step by step. I call it the three R’s.

The Three R’s For

Organising Your
Communication 1. Raise the issue: You can raise the issue by asking a
question or by making a statement such as, “I need to talk
with you about the budget proposal” Its important how you
open your criticism because you are setting the tune for
what would follow. You want to engage the other person
interest without making them feel defensive. Remember to
stay neutral; state your concern without blaming or
attacking. “I would like to talk with about the budget
proposal” is much different from “You have a lousy budget

Whatever you do, don’t open the criticism by using the

common expression, “would you like to hear some
constructive criticism?” To many critiques, it seems like a
very nice thing to say, but consider the effect on the
listener. Just raise the issue and move on.

2. Remain Open: If you want to involve the other person in a

two-way conversation, try to understand their point of
view; state your own interpretation but at the same time
show respect for the other person’s opinion. Ask questions,
listen carefully, and be willing to concede a point. There
may be a good explanation for the situation that you are
aren’t seen.

3. Request: This is the real point of the criticism, to get a

commitment for future action. Start by giving your reasons
for needing action. Be sure to acknowledge the need of the
other person as well. Your request may lead to a
negotiation in which each of you is willing to contribute.
Make sure you get a definite agreement on what should
happen next. This approach makes sure the time you took
is fruitful. Instead of finding fault, you work together on a
plan for improvement. That’s why the three R’s formula is
so far removed from the brutal personal criticism we often

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Using the three R’s for giving criticism can also be used in a team
situation, just be sure to continue to focus on giving other team
members feed back that has a positive intent and a positive result.
Following the three R’s could even help people who have difficult
with criticism in the past.

Commitment A final tip for giving criticism is to lock in the commitment; use
strong words and communicate them with emphasis. “I appreciate
your commitment” or “I’m counting on you” are two ways to hold
people responsible. You want your criticism to be about action not
hot air.

SUMMARY The three A’s for receiving criticism and the three R’s for giving
criticism are the two formulae you need to effective give and
receive criticisms like a professional. Remember:

The Three A’s for Receiving Criticism

• Acknowledge:- the issue that the critique has brought up.
• Ask questions:-to gather specific facts and show sincere
interest to understanding the problem.
• Action:- Make a commitment to act on the problem that
the critique has brought up.

The Three R’s for Giving Criticism

• Raise the issue:- of the criticism and open a dialogue with
the other person
• Remain open:- try to understand the other person point of
• Request:- request a commitment for future action.

Remember, criticism can be a valuable tool that you can use to

help evaluate and improve your professional career. My wish for
you is that you benefit from every criticism whether giving it or
receiving it.

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How can I handle my frustration Criticism in public does have more tension than criticism
if I am criticized in public? in private, so you can ask the critique can we move down
to where is private. But sometimes the criticism needs to
be in public because it’s a team issue, it’s a meeting. In
that case, you want to use the A’s, you acknowledge, you
ask questions, but remain non-defensive; keep your voice
even, make eye contact with your critique. Now, lets say
the critique is making a brutal attack, trust that the
people at the meeting would know that that’s what is
going on, and they will admire you if you are calm and

What if I feel the criticism I hear Criticism usually seems unfair at the beginning. We are
is unfair or unjustified? just so sensitive to criticism. That’s why you ask the
questions, you are seeking the validity in it. Lets say you
have gone through the whole process of evaluating the
criticism and you still believe its unfair, at this point you
need to stand up for your self; so you can say something
like “I want to explain to you now why I did it that way”
or “my view is very different from yours” That’s
standing up for your self without putting the other person

What if I can’t get the critic to be Keep asking those questions; reword those questions.
specific? “can you give me an example” “can you tell me what I
was doing at the time” May be you can try another
technique and this is multiple choice. Now let’s say that
the critic says your staff meetings are boring. Run him
through some possibilities, “what the meeting boring at
the beginning? How about the video I showed, was that
boring? The company announcement, anything wrong
there?” Something just might click and you’ll get a
response from your critic. This is called Inviting
Negative Feedback, and you are making sure the critic
feels safe telling you what was wrong.

How can I give criticism to Somebody who has a chip on their shoulder is going to
someone who has a chip on their get defensive or feel hurt no matter how tactful you are.

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shoulder? Well, what can you do about it? Continue being tactful,
it’s the proper thing to do. But don’t let the person
escape; don’t let them off the hook just because you are
getting defensive reactions.

Now, here is a “Don’t”. Don’t use disclaimers.

Disclaimers are the opening of statements and they
sound something like this, “Now don’t take this the
wrong way” or “don’t get mad when I say this” Those
disclaimers actually call attention to the negative
possibilities. So avoid disclaimers.

What if when I’m giving criticism This is an extreme reaction of Flight. The person is
the other person breaks down in completely running away from the criticism. So, what
tears? you want to do is wait; when somebody is crying, you
just need to let the conversation stop. You could even
make an appointment and say lets resume in 30 mins.
Now, you need to return with that person and stay with
the issue of criticism; don’t let them escape even though
the tears have gotten in the way, if it is a significant issue
stay with it.

Is it possible to give criticism to Yes it is. This is criticizing in the awkward direction, so
my boss or someone else in a you want ask yourself some key questions. “Is the issue
higher position? important? Does it affect my work? Can I state the
criticism in a way that it does not challenge the authority
of the person I am talking to?” Here is a actual example.
We’ll call this man John. John was giving many request
from his boss to write reports. We would write the report
and submit them and hear nothing in return; he was not
getting any feedback. So he did not know if they were
good or bad report. John felt very critical of his boss’s
management style. Here is what he decided to do. The
next report he submitted he said, “if I call you in a week,
could you tell me two or three things you like about the
report and two or three things you do not like.” He
called in a week and he got the feedback. His technique
worked. Now, that was giving criticism with finesse
because he was really asking for what he wanted.

Is there a best time to give Timing is everything in communication. So, you want to
criticism? communicate soon; after you have seen the negative
event, communicate soon. I mean within 24hrs. Within
that 24hr time frame, you still have some choices; select
the time when the other person will be more receptive.
Just think about it, Is this person a morning person, or Is
this person an afternoon person? Are times when the
person is swapped with work and really could not pay

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attention? So, you want to select a time when the other

person is likely to be receptive and open-minded.

If I have many issues in my Pick the priority. Lets say you have 17 or 18 negative
criticism I’m giving, where things to tell somebody. If you would tell them all those
should I start? points at once, the person would feel – I’m dumped on.
So pick out the priority, what matters the most right now.
Help the person listening to you focus on the criticism;
you’d probably get better result.

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An extract from the video training program by Bryan Tracy.

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Introduction Sometimes I ask my business audience this question, “what is the

purpose of a business?”

Through the audience they would come up with the answers, “Its
to make a profit,” “Its to kill the competition,” “Its to grow” and
so on.

“No”, I then tell them that the purpose of a business is not to make
a profit; it is to create and keep a customer.

The Purpose
of a Business: To create and keep a customer.

Profit: The result of fulfilling this purpose in a cost

effective way.

All you have to do is to look at everything that is done within a

company, and it is aimed at creating and keeping customers.
Profits are the results for doing these in a cost effective manner.

The First Sale

Now, in selling, the first sale is always the hardest and the most
expensive to get. The first sale can be made with effective
advertising and effective selling techniques. Aggressive,
competitive, intelligent advertising techniques, good advertising;
good selling, good promotion, a good office and everything else;
the first sale you can get. But, the first sale is when you exchange
promises about your product or services for money.

This is very interesting because when a person gives you money

for your product or service, they don’t know how it going to turn
out. Everything that happens after there, after that point is critical
to the future of your relationship and to the future of your

The Second Sale The second sale is the most important sales. The first sale is the
most difficult but the second is the one that’s most important.
Why? It’s because the second sale is the proof that you delivered
on your promises. The second sale is the proof that or the
customer put their stamp-of-approval that “you did do what you

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said you would do to induce me to buy the first time”

The second sale actually determines whether you would stay in

business. There are many companies who don’t realize this; they
focus on the first sale that they don’t realize that no company can
exist; no sale person can exist with only a single sale. The first
sales from a single customer are far too difficult, too expensive to
get. The only way you can survive is if you keep your customer
for life; keep your customers coming back over and over.

Focus Of
Customer Service
For that reason, the entire focus of customer service must be on
achieving the second sale.

The entire focus of

customer service must
be on achieving the
second sale.

And the third sale, and the fourth sale; but everything you do
have to look beyond the current sale to the second sale and the

A new customer today costs 3x to 5x

the amount it takes to service or to
resell an existing customer.

Sometimes it takes 10x to 15x as much to get a new customer as to

keep the old customer.

If you look at those numbers, you simply cannot afford to lose

your customers once you get them.

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Customer Retention:
is the true measure of
business quality – both
product and services

Retention Customer retention is the true measure of business quality – both
of business quality for your products and for your services. Your
ability to retain customers, repeat customers business is the way
you can tell if you are doing what you promised you will do; if
you are actually fulfilling your responsibility in your business.

Customers Now, we know that satisfied customers today tell 3-8 people;
they mention it in passing that they shop there and it was a good

1. satisfied customers today tell 3-8


2. Dissatisfied customers tell 8-13 other

people; some tell as many as 20-30

Dissatisfied customers tell 8-13 other people; some tell as many
as 20-30 people. Some dissatisfied customers make it a life-long
job to tell other people not to buy from you. You cannot afford to
nerve-driving people like this in your market place.

Most Expensive The most expensive customer of all is the one who just walks
Customer away and never comes back. The customer who does not
complain, 95% of customers don’t complain, they just have a bad
experience, they raise an eye-brow or attempt to bring it to your
attention, and if there is no response they just walk away and they
never come back. And that customer can kill your business.

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Now there is lots of studies and follow-up research to customers

who defected, and we found out that the reason for customer
defections are basically these:

Reasons for
Defections 1. Indifference on the part of someone in the company

Sometimes I ask the audience what is the opposite of

“love”? Often they would say the opposite of “love” is
“hate”. NO! Both love and hate are very intense emotion
and they are very close together. The opposite of love is
indifference; the opposite of caring is indifference.

68% of the customers who walked away, walked away not

because of dissatisfaction over your product or services; its
because they felt they were being treated indifferently on
the part of someone in the company. Think about that.

2. Passivity – taking the customer for granted.

Another reason is Passivity, which is just taking the

customer for granted. You get the customer, you serve the
customer, the customer goes away, and you sort of assume
that’s your customer. And then you find that they had gone
to someone else because someone else went and ask them.

Taking customers for granted is one of the biggest

problems that we have in our businesses today, even our
very best customers.

3. Lack of responsiveness to customer concerns

The third reason that customers defect is lack of

responsiveness to customer concerns. You see, customers
don’t like to complain; they don’t like to fight. So if they
do raise their hands and express a concern and nothings
happens, they’re out of here.

4. Poor quality, high price

#4 reason that people walk away is because of poor

quality, or high price, or both, but its less than 20% of the
reason for customer defections. In fact we found that
customers will continue to buy a product or service that
cost more and that may not be as good because they are
comfortable shopping with you as long as you take good
care of them.

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Rules for

Two Rules for Customer


Rule #1
The customer is always right

Rule #2
When in doubt, refer back to Rule #1

The customer is always right. Your life, your survival, your

success, your profit, your business, and your future depends upon
you recognizing that whoever you need to buy your product or
service is right.

Companies are in trouble whenever they start to talk about the

customer in disparaging terms; when they start to think of the
customer as a problem rather than as an opportunity.

Excellent customer service begins with a customer service

strategy, which is a vision of ideal service. It’s a vision in your
own mind, in the mind of everybody else of what “we would look
like if we gave superb customer service”.

You can develop you own customer service strategy very simply.

Key Elements of a
Customer Service
1. Begin with your own experiences.
Ask yourself what are the best customer service
experiences that you have had. Think of the stores, think of
the places, think of the people, and think of the companies
that have really taken wonderful care of you and made you
feel really good about yourself.

2. What do your excellent customer experiences have in

What do your excellent customer experiences have in
common? What is it about them? I can promise you that its
usually present people, its quick responses, its treated

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courteously, its making you feel important and so on.

What are the very best policies of the best companies out
there? Remember you have got to be the best in the
business if you want to be the best in the business.

3. How do you want to be talked about, described by your

So, here is a good question. How do you want to be talked
about? How do you want to be described by your
customers in terms of customer service? What are the exact
words you would like your customer to use when they talk
about you and they way you take care of them?

You would like them to say that you are warm, friendly,
kind, quick, generous, responsive, easy to get along with,
cheerful, pleasant; positive? What kind of words do you
want your customer to use? And then of course what can
you do everyday to make sure that your customers use
those words?

4. What aspects of your service do customers value the

The #4 key is to ask yourself what aspect of your service
your customer value the most. What are the aspect of your
service that customer compliment you the most? The flip
side of the compliment is what do they complain about
when the service is lacking a particular item? Both of those
tell you what your customers value the most and how you
could make a lot of progress by satisfying and serving

5. How could serve your customers better than any

The #5 key to a customer service strategy is to ask how
you could serve your customers better than any competitor.
Remember you only have to be a little better to make an
enormous difference. How could you be better? In what
one area could you jump ahead of your competitor and
give them something that is faster, cheaper, better, friendly,
easier, more convenient than anyone else. That’s the key.

6. What is your customer service quality ranking?

Here is a good question. What is your customer service
quality ranking? If someone were to come into the market
place and do an analysis of the companies in your business,
and ask thousands of customers where they rank you
amongst all the other companies in terms of quality
service, where would you rank? Would you be #1, would
you be #2 or #5 or #10? Where would you rank?

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Knowing where you ranked is more important than

knowing where you are. So let us say you are #5, what is
your goal? Your goal then is to be #4, and you have to ask
yourself not how to go to #1 but how do you go from #5 to
#4 because the companies that having the highest customer
service ranking in the market place have the most loyal
customers, the most repeat sales, the greatest profitability,
and the fastest rate of growth.

Customer complaints represent a great opportunity to build

customer loyalty. Here is what we found about customer
complaints – don’t avoid customer complaints.

1. If customer complaints are dealt with immediately the

How to Build customer will buy from you again more than 90% of the
Customer time. The key word is immediately.
2. A customer whose complaints are handled quickly and
efficiently is usually more loyal than a customer with no

So, it’s very important that when a customer complains, you

recognize this as a customer service excellence opportunity, and
here is the point, there is a specific methodology for handling
customers’ complaints efficiently and well.

1. Make it easy to complain: Invite feedback by asking and

listening to what people say. Some of the best companies
that I know of, not only have little cards, customer
Methodology for comment cards that they hand out everywhere, but they
Handling actually call you up afterwards and they ask you, how
Customer everything was; if there is there anything they could
Complaints improve or do better next time. It’s the most remarkable
Effectively thing because it builds tremendous loyalty when they take
the time to phone and ask you for your opinion.

2. Hear it completely: So, when your customer complains,

hear it out completely. Don’t defend or explain. Just hear it
out, hear it out, and hear it out completely.

3. Ask for complete details of the complaint before

answering: Get the more details. The more the customers
can express themselves and give you details of their
complains, the more the energy drains out the more calm
they become and the more open they are to what to do

4. Apologize personally: When a customer complains,

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apologies personally. Don’t say “the company is sorry” or

“we are sorry” but say “I am sorry that happens”.

5. Seek first to understand the customer: Here are some

wonderful words that you can use in any situation where a
person is upset for any reason. Just say the words “I
understand exactly how you feel. If I was in your situation I
would feel the same way. ” This tells people that you
empathetic, and you are sensitive and it calms them down

6. Offer to resolve the problem or complaint immediately:

When a customer complaint offer to resolve the problem
immediately. Speed is of the essence. Jump on it quickly.
Most of the best companies authorize their people to
resolve a customer complains immediately with no
reference to a third party.

There is a famous story of Federal Express that promised

that a package would absolutely, positively be delivered by
10.30 the next morning, and there was a snow storm and
the roads were snowed under and the federal express
delivery man chartered a helicopter for $7500 to make sure
that that package was delivered to a mountain place in
Colorado rather than break the guarantee. That’s the kind
of legend that customer service organizations develop.

7. Ask, “what would you like us to do?”: When you get a

complaint, and you listen to it clearly, you have agreed to
respond to it immediately and say that you are sorry, then
ask “what would you like us to do?” “Tell us anything you
would like us to do. We would do anything it takes to
satisfy you” Often the customer’s response would be

8. Reward the customer: When a customer does complain

and you resolve the complains, do something extra for the
customer; do something the customer has not expected;
give them something extra that is in addition to making it
right. You would bind the customer to you with hooks of
steel; it would be loyalty on the part of the customer that
would come back to you over and over again in the form of
return sales.

The return on investment in customer by the way, in terms of

additional sales and profits, is calculated by Fortune Magazine to
be as high as 400%. In other words, customer service hotlines,
customer service departments, customer service budget, customer

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service training yields a return of the bottom line of about 400% or

R.O.I $4 for every $1 spent in satisfying customers. It’s not an expense
department; it’s a proactive department because it repeats sales.

Problems of customers today are “the test” of your business and

the customer relationship. They are the test of whether or not you
are really serious about this customer. If you pass the test, they
(customers) will return to you and they will tell their friends.

“The Test”

Customers describe top service companies in surveys in three


1. They are really nice people: this is the #1 thing customers

Top Service say with regards to the service companies; and by “nice”
Companies they mean cheerful, they are just friendly.

2. It is really a pleasure to do business with them: the #2

thing they say is this. They just get a happy feeling when
they do business with your company. They walk out
feeling that they have got more than their money’s worth.

3. I get the feeling that they really care about me and my

situation: “Caring” is the critical element in building long
term business. The more they feel that you care about
them, the more likely it is that they are to come back over
and over again.

1. Your customers are so happy with your service that

they buy again and again: If your customers don’t buy
again and again, you’ll soon be out of business. If they
customer buys again and again, the cost of serving each
additional sales, the cost of acquiring each additional sale
goes down and your profitability goes up.

2. Your customers are so happy that they tell their friends

to buy from you: the #2 key determinate of your success
in business is that your customers are so happy that they

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Most Important tell their friends to buy from you. Your customers are
Determinates of continued source of referrals. Do you know that “word of
Long Term mouth is 84% of the reasons people buy today; that means
Business Success somebody tells that your product and services, your
company is good, and you need to have every customer out
there selling for you. Do everything possible to get your
customer selling for you every time they talk to someone
who can use your product or service.

1. Practice the Golden Rule with every customer.

2. Treat every customer exactly the way you would like to be

treated if the situation were reversed. Treat each customer
as if he/she was your mother or father. Treat them as
though they are very, very important to you. Be sensitive
and patient exactly if they were one of your parents. You
would be amazed how this changes your attitude to your

3. Always be pleasant, positive, and cheerful, no matter what

Rules for is going on your life. People love to buy from happy,
Creating positive, cheerful people; and they hate to buy from
Customers for negative, angry, pessimistic people who don’t smile. There
Life is a Chinese expression which said “a person without smile
should not open his door.” A person without a smile should
not be face-face with customers.

4. Treat each person you meet like a “Million Dollar

Customer!” Treat each person as though this person has the
capacity of buying a million dollar worth of product from
your company. Treat them as if they are the most important
customer in your company or in your world, and you
would be surprise how many small customers grow and
becomes big customers for you because of the way you
treated them when they were little customers.

5. Say “Thank You” as many ways as possible. Every time

you say “thank you” to a customer raises their self-esteem;
it improves their self-concept. It makes them happier and
they feel happier about you. Always be looking for ways to
say “thank you”; a note that says “thank you”, a phone call
that says “thank you”, a little gift or present that says
“thank you”.
6. Respond and react quickly to customer complaints. When a
customer complains, remember this is the testing time; this
is the opportunity for you to show what you are made off;
this is the chance for you to demonstrate to the customer

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that you really care about them and you really want their
7. Continually look for ways to build customer loyalty, and
increase customer retention. Every minute, everyday, ask
your self:
• What can I do to increase my customer loyalty to
• What can I do to reward my customers?
• What can I do to show my customers how much I
appreciate them?
• What can I do everyday to get customers for life?

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Extracts from the video tape on Making customers happy by Brian Tracy

Everybody that is working has one job; everybody’s job is problem
solving. Everybody reading this is in the job of solving problems
because that is what you do all day long. If what you do could be
mechanized or automated, and done by a machine, they would not
need you.

The Problem Solver

So you are problem solver. The only question is “how good a problem
solver are you?” and that determines how far you rise and high you
go in your life. In addition, one can say,

“No what your job title or description, you are also in the business of
customer satisfaction”

Everyone, according to Roberthood Stephenson, earns their living by

selling something to someone; by satisfying someone somehow. You
are in the business of customer satisfaction. In fact,

“Your ability to serve and satisfy your customers better than someone
else is the key determinant of your success in work.

This is because if someone else can satisfy your customers better than
you can, they will also always have an edge over you. Live is a game
of Leap-Frog - they get better than you, you get better than them, ,
you get better than them, they get better than you; and its leap-frog
one step at a time. You always have to be looking for ways of doing it
faster and better than someone else is willing to do it.

Everyone Has A
Customer Here is the rule: everyone has at least one customer.

Sometimes its people on shipping docks; sometimes its people in

accounts; sometimes its people in administration that feel that they do
not have any customer. This line of thinking is wrong and can be fatal
to your career. Remember, it’s not what a person knows that hurts
them; it is what they know that is not true.

Here are your two customers – the person that depends on you, and
the person that you depend upon.

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The Person 1. First of all, the person who depends on you. The person
Who Depends who depends on you includes your customer in the market
On You place, your boss, your staff, your co-workers, any body
within your business life who depends on you to do your
job so that they can be successful in doing their job or
getting their result is your customer. Its very important to
look round you and realize that there are a network of
people who are your customers.

The Person That You 2. The second general customer you have is the person that
Depend On you depend on. The person you depend on for sales, for
income, for promotion, for security, for love; anyone that
you depend on for the quality of your life either your work
or Christian life, is your customer, because satisfying this
customer is absolutely indispensable to your long-term
happiness and success.

Generally speaking
When you are not serving the customer directly, you better be serving
someone who is.

If you work in a department within a company, remember that there

are people who are in the front line, dealing face-face with customers.
If you are not dealing face-face with customers, you had better be
helping in supporting someone who is dealing face-face with
customers – the people upon whom the company depends and the
people who depends on the company.

Levels Of Customer
Service There are four levels of customer service in the market today, and this
is very interesting because most people just think of customer service
as one big lump, but its not.

1. Level One (1): Meet Customer Expectations

This is the basic level of customer service and it ensures
survival of the company. Meeting customer expectations is
sort of like having your noise above water; you can
breathe, you can survive. Many companies think this is an
accomplishment – we meet customer expectations. This is
not an accomplishment. This is the barest minimum for

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2. Level Two (2): Exceed Customer Expectations

The second level of customer service is when you exceed
customer expectations. This means you do more than the
customer expects. This allows you to grow. This is like
having your whole head or half of your body above water.
It does not guarantee your future, at least it allows you to
grow; it gives you breathing room and room to move.

3. Level Three (3): Delight Your Customers

The third level of customer service is when you delight
your customer. When you delight your customer so, after
dealing with you, they are happy, they are pleased; they are
delighted; they feel good about having chosen you. They
will ensure a more rapid growth in the market place than
people who are just meeting or exceeding.

4. Level Four (4): Amaze Your Customers

The highest level of customer satisfaction however is when
you amaze your customers. Amazing your customers and
finding ways to amaze them is the key to market
leadership. Your job must be always to move through from
meeting to exceeding to delighting to customer
amazement. That’s the key to the future.
Three Rules Of
Customer Service

1. Rule 1: Meeting expectation is the basic minimum

Meeting expectations today is the basic minimum. This is
just the minimum. This just gets you a seat at the table; this
gets you into the game; this does not ensure survival.
Meeting customer expectations just allows you to stay in

2. Rule 2: Exceeding customer expectations soon becomes

the minimum
Exceeding customer expectations, which is what enables
you to grow, soon becomes the minimum. Why? Its
because if you exceed customer expectations, your
competitor will copy you and offer the same level of
satisfaction. That then becomes the minimum again that
you will have to meet to stay in business. And we know
that what you did to exceed customer expectations in the
past is today the basic minimum. It gets you no points.
Well, people might say that last year people were happy
about it. That was last year. Now, they expect something
more because of the next rule.

3. Rule 3: Your Competition Sets the Minimum Standard

You must Meet

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This rule states that your competition set the minimum

standards that you must meet. You do not decide what
customer service is and what customer service excellence
is. Your competitors decide. The rule is that you must be
equal to and better than your competitors if you want to
survive and thrive in a competitive market place. That’s the

The Key

The key of success in competitive

market is your ability to
differentiate yourself from all of
your competitors

Your ability to stand out, as some how different, better, superior,

unique, excellent, somehow, you stand apart from your competitors;
creating this differentiation is the key to the future for your business
and for yourself.

Commodity – A
Perceived View Of
Your Products Now, must product and services in the market places are perceived
/Services initially as commodity.

Most Products/Services Are Perceived Initially as Commodities

In other words, the customer looks in the yellow pages and there are
all the companies in your business that offers the same products and
services. As far as the customer is concern, when they approach you
or you approach them, you are all the same. You are just like a big jar
of marble; you can reach in and pick any one of them.
What is a
How is a commodity defined? You may not like this definition, but
here it is – A commodity is defined as “just the same as everyone else,
completely undifferentiated, no special qualities or abilities that sets it
apart, and it is sold solely on the basis of price.”

This is why customers say “How much is it?” “How much is it?”
Because until you can somehow differentiate and show that your
product/service is somehow vastly different or better than your
competitors, this is the initial approach of your customers.

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Quality According to the studies at Harvard University when they asked

thousands of customers “what is quality to you?”; the answer was this
“quality is defined by customers as a combination of the
product/service and the way it is delivered”

Example: Imagine going to a very expensive restaurant, absolutely

beautiful food, exquisitely displayed on the plate; but the waiter is
rude, the table cloth is messed up, the silverware is dirty, and when
they bring you the plate they drop it in front of you and walk away.

Notice: the décor is there, the prices are there, the food is there, but
the way it is served is everything in terms of whether or not it is a
quality experience.

A Reputation For
Service Excellence
A reputation for service excellence allows you and your company to:

1. Charge more (for your product/services)

2. Get more – to get more when you sell them (product/services)
3. Increase market share more rapidly
4. Enjoy higher profit margins – it enables you enjoy higher
profit margins

Quality service
1. When people feel that you are excellent at what you do, you
differentiate yourself by that degree from your competitors,
2. Sometimes, excellent quality service is the only way that you
can stand out because you can not change your product/service
dramatically enough to make a difference.

According to the studies in Harvard University that has to do with

your “Quality Rating”, their conclusion was that your “Quality
Rating” determines your sales and your profitability.

What is a “Quality
If you were to take all the companies in your industry in the market
place and you were to bring in an outside company and go around and
ask hundreds of customers, “On your perception, what are the highest
quality companies in this market place?” And you give out the list of
major companies and ask they be rated from 1 to 10.

Well, your customers, in their perception, in their feelings, in their

intuitions, would rate every company in the market place, and you
would be somewhere in that rating. Here is what we know: the

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company that is rated #1 in the market place by reputation is always

the one that has the highest sales, and the greatest profitability; the
company that is rated #2 has the second highest sales and profitability;
the company that is rated #3 has the 3rd highest sales and profitability,
etc. Your question is, on the scale of 1 to 10, where do you rate in the
market place? Whatever you rate, you goal must be to develop a
strategy to bring up your perceived quality rating.

What is quality?

What the customer says it is.

Quality is what the customer says it is. Quality is not what you say it
is. Quality is what the customer says it is. And the customers are very
specific and they are always changing. So the very companies are
always asking their customers want do you want and what do you
want more off; what do you like, and what don’t you like? How can
we serve you better?

Quality service is always relative to what your

competitors are offering

Quality service is always relative to what your competitors are

offering. So, what do you do about this?

• Shop your competitors – One of the best things that you can
do is “shop your competitor”. Go to your different competitor;
go through their stores; look at how they lay things up; call
them up and see how they answer the phone; invite their sales
people to call on you and see how they sell; Find out what you
have to compete against; find out who you have to be if you
want to improve your quality rating in the market place, and
especially if you want to be the best the market place.

The Starting Point

Practice the
“Moment of
Truth” approach
to all customer

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Here is a good starting point – practice what is called the “Moment of

Truth” approach to customer relations. What is a “Moment of

A moment of truth is ANYTIME that a customer comes into contact

with any part of your business; a moment of truth is when they see the
advertisements; when they call your office; when somebody calls on
them; when they receive a letter; when they get your products or
services; when they use it or have problems with it.

Every time your customers comes

in touch with any part of your
business is a moment of truth.

It is called a moment of truth because it is the combination of these

moments that leads to your success or non-success. And the secret is
to make EVERY customer contact enjoyable and memorable. Make
sure that every single time the customer bumps against your firm; he
experiences a happy and positive experience leading to greater
customer loyalty, and greater sales in the future.

To Practice the
“Moment of Truth”
Approach to all
Customer Relations
1. Appearance: the first part of moment of truth is the
appearance. The appearance of your people; the appearance of
your facilities; the appearance of your materials; make sure
they are clean, sharp, modern, polished.

Just the very fact that your place of business, and your people,
and your materials look good is a real positive moment of

2. Reliability: this is another moment of truth. How dependable,

how accurate, and how consistently reliable are you in the
market place? Nothing makes customers happier than no
surprises. Customers will actually shop with you over and over
again even if there are better and cheaper people out there if
your service to them is excellent and consistent over time.
People fall into comfort zones, and when they become
comfortable with no surprises approach to the way you deal
with them, they will come back to you over and over again.
3. Responsiveness: How responsive are your people with regards
to these moments of truth? Are they pleasant, and positive and
cheerful? Do they come back and are they are appreciative and
thankful? Are they happy and nice on the telephone? Do you
know that often the most important person in your company is

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the person who answers the phone? Do you know that 99% of
your contact, of your customers can sometimes be by
telephone? And the person who is really great on the phone
has tremendous impact on how that customer feels about you
and your products and services. We feel that companies that
have the nicest people probably have the best products and the
best prices.

4. Empathy: This is another part of the “Moment of Truth”.

Empathy means when a customer has a question or a concern,
that you express kindness, caring, and sensitivity. You’d
address the emotional component of the customer, the
customer’s feelings – that’s a key moment of truth, especially
if they have a difficult of some kind and they need your help or
they need a revolution.

5. Assurance: this is the final moment of truth. Assurance is

contained in the knowledge and competence of your
employees. There is nothing that makes a customer feel
happier than to know that she is dealing with a company and
people that are really good at what they do. So, continue to
emphasize that, ask good questions, listen carefully to the
answer, make good recommendation, and move quickly on
customer needs. It builds those moments of truth and that
customer loyalty that is worth all the antiques in China.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are the President of you own personal
services corporation. Remember that you attitude towards what you
do, your attitude towards your customers, your attitude towards your
job, determines your approach; it determines how you walk and talk, it
determines how you respond; it ultimately determines your whole life.

Your Long-term
success depends on
satisfying your
Your long-term success, whatever you do, depends on satisfying

Here is an interesting point. The number 1 reason for failure in

American is what is called “poor social skill”. Its people just simply
do not have the personality, or they do not care enough to really make
the effort to satisfy their customers or to be nice to people upon whom
they depend, and who depend on them. So, see yourself, see your life
as a process, an on-going process of really being really nice to your

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• Here is an exercise. If customers are coming to your company,
imagine that every customer who calls on you is a “mystery
shopper”. Do you know what a mystery shopper is? Well,
there are companies that would send people to patronize a
firm, and these are “mystery shoppers”. These are people, who
are writing up reports that would go into national publications
like consumer reports, in terms of what kind of company this
is; what kind of people they are; how they treat their customers
when they come.

A mystery shopper is the kind of person who can send back a

report to headquarters, if you like, that can have enormous
implications. And sometimes, mystery shoppers are trained to
be difficult, to be demanding, to be uncooperative, and to be
sometimes unreasonable. These are tests, almost like when you
take a car out on a test track and you run it at full throttle for a
long period of time to test the engine; often a mystery shopper
would come along and run you at full throttle to see how deep
your commitment to customer service is. So, treat like a
mystery shopper, and no matter what they ask, treat them well.

• Another thing you could do is: imagine that every customer

has a “$50,000” sign on his/her forehead. A friend of mine has
one of the most successful stores in America. It’s visited by
companies from all over America and other countries. They
have some of the highest square-foot sales of any store in the
world for their product; and every single person in the
company is trained to see every single customer as having a
$50,000 sign on their forehead. So, whenever a customer has
the slightest of a problem, he is treated as though he is a
$50,000 customer. Simple rationale by the way. They
concluded they if a customer buys from them they spend $100
per week, and they will usually come 50 weeks a year, and
they will usually be customer for 10 years. 100 x 50 x 10

With regards to your customers, always do more than you are paid for.

Always do more
than you are
paid for
Always do more than the customer expects; always meet, exceed,
delight and amaze your customers

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Factors In Customer Time: A Vital Factor in Customer Service

Time is a vital factor in customer service. You have heard the line “a
rose in time is more valuable than a dozen roses too late”. So,

1. Use time as competitive weapon in service excellence. And

here is one of the easiest ways of all, say “Sure, right away” to
any customer request. “Sure, right away”. Customers love it
when company say “sure, right away”. Or you can say, “We’ll
get started on this right away.” Customers love it when
company and people offer to do things right away because
time is terribly valuable.

2. Move quickly on customer requests and inquires

3. Move fast on customer complaints. Respond to them and

resolve them quickly. Often you can take a customer who is
angry and turn him around completely by just reacting quickly
to a need or problem that they have.

4. Always be seeking faster ways to serve your customers better

than anyone else. Always be looking for better ways. Always
be looking for ways to give your customers more than your
competitors are offering.

The Golden Rule

Here is a very important part of customer service-

Practice the Golden Rule in all your customer interactions: The

Golden Rule is simply this – Make your customers feel important. The
desire or the need to feel important is the deepest single craving in
human nature. Make them feel important.

The Golden Rule

Make All Your
Customers Feel

Five Ways to Make Your Customers Feel Important:

1. Acceptance. Smile. Make them feel welcome, even on the

telephone, smile into the phone, and make it clear that you are
happy that they phoned. When they come in, make it clear that
you are happy that they came in. Always be nice to your

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2. Appreciation. Customer’s self esteem goes up; they feel more

important when you say, “Thank you” in as many different
ways that you can. Always be saying “Thank You”; sending
“thank you” cards; giving them little things to show that you
appreciate them.

Think of who your most important customers are, and what

would happen if you lost them. What would you do today in
terms of showing them that you appreciate them if that was the
alternative to losing them? And whatever it is, do it before
there is a danger of losing them.

3. Admiration. The third way to make them feel important is

admiration. Admire their qualities; admire their traits,
especially admire their possession. Complement them; as
Abraham Lincoln once said, “everybody likes a complement”.
Give a complement on their house, their home, their clothes,
their cars, their jewelries, and other things about them and
things they do.

4. Attention. The fourth key to raise their self esteem is

attention. Just listen attentive to them when they have a
question, when they have a concern, when they have a
complaint, when they have a difficulty.

5. Dominate the listening. The fifth key to raise customer self-

esteem is to dominate the listening and let the customer
dominate the talking.

Remember everyone makes their living serving someone. So, ask your
self this question continually, “what can I do to serve my customers
better today”. Every day, every hour be asking yourself and others,
“what can I do to serve my customers better today?”, and whatever the
answer to that, don’t hesitate, don’t delay, just do it!

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Extract from the video Training tape by

INTRODUCTION Probably the most important and over-looked piece of office equipment
today is the telephone. No matter how you look at it, the telephone is an
important and powerful tool. Unfortunately its too easy to take talking on
the telephone for granted, because talking on the phone is so common.
Now, you might be saying I don’t deal with customers on the phone, so its
not that important. You know what, everyone deals with customers. They
may be internal customers, external customers, clients, or even partners.
No matter whom you deal with on the phone they are your customers.

Everyone deals with


Its up to you make sure they feel valued and appreciated. So, why do we
some times make errors in dealing with people on the telephone? May be
its because when we deal with people over the telephone we do so
differently than we talk with them face-face. Think about it. When you are
on the phone, do you shuffle papers, re-organize your desk drawers, update
your roller deck? Unfortunately, many of us do. All of these things break
your focus which should be on the person on the other end of the phone.

In this programme, we like to provide you with ten skills that can improve
the way you use the telephone. Well, we can’t guarantee success; we can
guarantee that if you follow these principles you’d be well on your way to
being more successful using the telephone.

Skill #1: Master

the Basics You need the basic fundamental of telephone usage. Typically when we
talk about the basics of using the telephone, three things come to mind:

1. Answer promptly:- When you try to answer the telephone, be sure

enough to answer before the 3rd ring; this shows the caller that
you care enough about them to answer promptly.
2. Offer Assistance:- People use the telephone to get something
done. When people call you, keep that in mind; understand that
there is a reason behind every phone call, and focus on finding it.

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3. Put a smile in your voice:- How do you put a smile on your

voice? Put a smile on your face. When you put a smile on your
face, the smile on your voice naturally follows.

These three (3) really emphasize showing the caller that you care.

Skill #2: Be To get the most out of every phone call, you need to be prepared; not just
Prepared with what you are going to say or what you want accomplish in the call,
but also your environment. Ask yourself the following questions to see if
you are making the most out of your phone calls:

1. Do you open the call with a pleasant greeting? A pleasant

greeting gets things started on the right foot.
2. Do you have your work space organized? You not want to be
looking for things you need to refer to.
3. Are listening carefully and taking notes? Do you have pen and
paper available? How many times.
4. Have you eliminated anything that might distract you? Have
you closed the door and put a sign on the door indicating you are on
an important phone call? Do everything you can to be completely
focused on the caller.
5. Are you using the caller’s name? Try to use the caller’s name
whenever appropriate. Be sure not to over use it, they will see right
through what you’re trying to do.
6. Do you follow through with what you promised? Are you clear
on what you have agreed to do during the phone call? Do you
immediately make plans to follow through on what you promised?

By making sure you are prepared for every call using the above questions,
you’d be taking important steps to maximize every phone call you make.

Skill #3: Know

How To Put Nothing is more frustrating than to be put on hold, transfer incorrectly, or
Callers On Hold cut off. Has it ever happened to you? I am sure it probable has, and
Or Transfer unfortunately it would probably happen again.

Holding Calls
There are four steps to correctly putting people on hold:
1. Always Ask:- Some callers are not able to hold, they have a time
limitation or may be they are calling long distance. So, be sure to
always ask if the person would hold.
2. Explain why you’re putting them on hold:- Explain why you’re
putting them on hold; explain that you need to gather information,
or go to another location in order to serve their need.
3. Be Sure To Check Back Every 30 seconds:- Check back on the
caller to give them an update on how you’re coming with their

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4. Thank them For Holding:- When you take them of hold, thank
them for holding. Its only common courtesy. They gave you the
time you needed to prepare to deal with their situations, so be sure
to thank them.

One last thing about putting people on the hold, if you have the
hold feature on your phone, use it. Use the Hold button on your
phone. If you are afraid to use technology, practice. Learn how it
works before the situation arises.

Transfering Calls
Now, let’s talk about transferring. There is a right and wrong way
of transfer. To properly transfer a person there are four steps:

1. Ask the caller’s permission:- they may prefer to call back at a

later time.
2. Tell them who they are being transferred to :- This way they can
direct future call to the proper person
3. Announce the call to your co-worker:- Brief announce the call to
your co-worker, make sure they understand who is being
transferred to them and why
4. Stay on the line until the transfer is complete:- The biggest
mistake people make when transferring call is to be beginning the
transfer process and hang up too early. This leaves the caller in

Putting a person on hold and transferring them correctly are fundamental

skills that if done may go unnoticed, but done wrong are sure to make a
negative impression.

Skill #4: Take

Complete I know you have all heard it before; there is a proper way to take messages.
Messages Follow these five simple steps to take a complete message:

1. Get The Person’s full name: Make you get the person full name and
have it spelt correctly.
2. Get the name of their company
3. Get their full telephone number
4. Find out why they are calling
5. Find a good time to call back: Find out from them when is a good
time to call them back.

Skill #5: Use Voice

Mail Effectively There has never been anything that has so drastically changed the way we
use phone as voice mail. We have it at the office, at home, and sometimes
even in our car. It’s a fact of life that we must deal with and use efficiently.

Leaving A Good Voice Mail Message

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Let’s start with how to leave good messages. There are five things to
remember when leaving a message:

1. Be Prepared for Voice Mail: Before a call be prepared for voice

mail. Have in mind what type of message you are going to leave.
2. Keep your message short: Let your message be short and to the
point, but not too short. Include the name, the department or the
company with including the reason for the call, and any specific
action the caller should take prior to calling you back. Make sure
you have given them all the information that they need so that when
they call you back, you can move forward.
3. Prepare caller for a long message: If you are going to leave a
long message, be sure to prepare the caller like letting the caller
know that you are about to leave along message. People really
appreciate it when you give them a warning about an upcoming
long message. Also along the same line if you are going to be
leaving a message with more than one point, let the other party
4. Offer a good time to call back: the fourth telephone courtesy skill
you should use is letting the recipient know when would be a good
time to call you back. Offer time that is best to call you back and be
sure to make yourself available at that time.
5. Mark your Calendar for follow-up: Every once in a while
technology breaks down. If they lose your message, will you
situation get handled? Incase something happens, mark your
calendar for follow-up.

Leaving a Good Voice Mail Message for Callers

Let talked about how to leave a good message for callers. Let’s start with
how to create a message that encourages callers to leave you a good
message. You start by creating a dynamic greeting; a greeting that would
get the caller to leave you a message that would help move things along.
1. Sound Cheerful: Your greeting should sound cheerful to make the
caller feel you want to hear their message, and that you will follow-
2. Clearly State Your Name: It should clearly state your name. Be
sure the person calling fully understands that they have reached the
right number.
3. Give Information about Your Availability: When appropriate,
give information about your availability. If you’ll be available in
the afternoon, let them know. May be they would rather call you
back instead of leaving a message.
4. Ask for Pertinent Information: Asks them for any pertinent
5. Suggest a time you can call back: Have them suggest a time when
you can call them back.
Skill #6: Know
How To Handle A

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Dealing with a difficult or upset customer over the telephone is extra hard
because you can’t see the other person. So, much of what we say or do is
based on reading the other person’s non-verbal. Obviously over the
telephone we can’t do this. This is why it’s so important to have a process
with dealing with the upset customer.

First realize that when you dealing with an upset customer you are dealing
with two different problems.

i) Deal with emotions: the first problem is the caller’s real

feelings. Its important to deal with the customer’s feel before
problem #2 which is the real problem. If you rush into trying to
deal with the problem before the hurt feelings, you’d be
unsuccessful. Until a person’s feelings are dealt with its very
difficult to concentrate on the real problem. You can do this by
doing 3 things:
(a) Ask open-ended questions:- to draw out their feelings.
Ask questions like, “can you tell me a little bit about
this situation?” or “would you please explain the
situation to me?” This help the callers vent their
(b) Listen to their answers:- after you have asked your
open-ended questions. When you really listen you are
telling them that you care. You find that by careful
listening you start to get the information you need to
deal with the real problem.
(c) Empathize with the individual:-Empathize with them,
not with your verbal reactions but also with your tune of
voice. Show them that you really care.

ii) Deal with the real problem:- by

(a) Asking close-ended questions - This will help you get
more details
(b) Listen for details – Listen to their answers and come up
with as many details as possible to help you solve the
(c) Clarify understanding:- Be sure to clarify
understanding. Repeat back to the customer your
understanding of what they said. Ask they verify that
you have a clear understanding of their issues. By
clarifying, you are showing the person that you’ve really
listened and that you are willing to deal with their

iii) Take action: After you got the information you need to solve
the problem, determine what alternative are available and state
the alternatives to the caller. If possible, let the caller choose the
next step. You will find that they take more ownership of the

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iv) Do something extra:- do something extra for your customer; it

Skill #7: Learn may be as simple as getting them a free promotional item or
How To Say No doing a follow-up call to be sure everything was resolved. By
doing something extra, you will increase the chance that they
will deal with you in the future.

Have you ever been put in a situation where you have to say no to a
customer? You do not like it, and the caller dislike it even more but it’s a
fact of life.

1. The first thing that you need to do when dealing with a situation
where you have to relay bad news or say no is to take responsibility
to deal with the situation in an open and honest manner. Many
people try to avoid the real issue, in the long run this hurts much
more than it helps.
2. Clearly state the situation to the customer and be sure they
understand the situation. Usually you should try to start your
statement with a positive. If you start with a positive and then get
down to the real situation it makes it more acceptable to the
3. After you’ve stated the situation, tell the customer what you can do,
offer alternatives. Let them know you are trying to help them.
4. Finally, try to end on a positive note. It could be as simple as
saying “thank you” or telling the customer how much you value
their business.
Skill #8: Use The
Features Having to tell people no is no easier over the telephone than in real life, but
Available on Your if you understand how to do it professionally, the situation would be much
Phone easier to handle.

This tip is about as simple as our earlier, “Taking Messages”. Ask yourself
Skill #9: Be “Do you know how to put people on hold, transfer correctly, use multiple
Prepared For lines, conference call?” If you answer “no” to any of these questions, take
Difficult the time to practice before you really need it; its as simple as reading the
Situations instructions that come with your phone.

Occasionally, we all encounter difficult situations on the telephone. By

preparing ahead of time we will be ready to deal with them in a
professional manner. Let’s take a look at three (3) common situations.

1. The caller who threatens you on the telephone: If someone

threatens you on the telephone, check your company policy. Does
your company have procedures for dealing with this type of

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situation? If so, respond by following those guidelines. If you

organization does not have guidelines, try the follow:
• Don’t take it personal. The person is probably not upset
with you; they are upset with your company.
• Separate your personal feelings from the real problem.
Don’t get caught up in the situation and become hostile
your self.
• Think before you speak. Speak clearly and communicate
that the situation is unacceptable and is not conducive to
handling the real problem.

2. The caller who speaks a different language: When dealing with a

caller who is difficult to understand because he/she speaks a
different, the best thing to do is to be prepared ahead of time. You
may ask, “how can I be prepared ahead of time, I don’t know when
they are going to call?” We are not saying you need to be prepared
for each individual call, but you need to think about each possible
situation in advance. Consider the types of calls you get, and who
might be calling you. If you work in an industry or area where the
customer or clients may speak, be prepared by:
• Find someone on your staff who speaks that language.
• Try to communicate with them in their language, and do so
in a caring manner and be aware of your tone of voice and
• Speak at your normal tone and inflection: often we tend to
speak louder when we are trying to communicate more
clearly. Instead speak normally; don’t speak louder.
• Use simple phrases and explanations. Avoid technical
jargons that would only confuse the caller more.

3. Dealing With an Emotional Caller: this has to do with a caller who

Skill #10: is too emotional to have a productive phone call. In situations as
Continuously this:
• Empathize with the caller:
• Be sure to state your willingness to help and pulse to let the
caller regain her composure.
• If they can’t regain composure, suggest to the caller that
they call you back when they are ready to continue.

Summary The successful professional in business today is constantly improving and

building on their fundamentals. Do something to make sure you remember
the fundamentals, build on them, and may be put a mirror in the office to
watch yourself while you are on the phone. Look for the smile in your
voice or your non-verbal action. You might try to put a sign somewhere
close to remind you to practice the fundamentals and consistently improve.

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It does not matter what you do, it just matters that you do something.

Ten Tips For Success on The Telephone

1. Master the Basics

2. Be Prepared
3. Know How to Put Callers on Hold or Transfer
4. Take Complete Message
5. Use Voice Mail effectively
6. Know How to Handle a Difficult Customer
7. Learn to say No
8. Use the Features Available on Your Phone
9. Be Prepared For Difficult Situations
10. Continuously Improve

If you concentrate on these ten tips, you will be well on your way to
maximizing the use of the most important tool in your office today, the

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