Customer Service Stories to Make Your Heart Smile

Customer Service Stories to Make Your Heart Smile

“Well done is better than well said.” (Benjamin Franklin)

After months of social distancing, today, people are craving a personal touch more than ever. Companies that go the extra mile remind us of an important truth: people are valuable. Businesses that genuinely care about their customers will express it, and clients will reciprocate with a loyalty that lasts.

Looking for inspiration? Here are three heart-warming stories.

Lego Understands Children

Losing a toy can be devastating to a child.

Lego recognized this and personalized their response in an unforgettable way. When Luka Apps lost his favorite Lego figure (Ninjago’s “Jay ZX”) while shopping, he wrote an apology letter to Lego, begged for a replacement, and said his father had warned him about taking Legos outside.

Lego didn’t just replace Jay; they surprised Luka with something special. A customer service rep named Richard responded quickly, telling Luka he had talked to (Ninjago Spinjitzu Master) Sensei Wu:

“He told me to tell you, ‘Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu.’ Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.

“So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons. You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines 3 different Jays into one! I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight! Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu! And of course, always listen to your dad.”

Richard’s response was so creative it went viral. Lego surprised Luke and won the hearts of families worldwide.

B. Dalton: Placing Customers Above Competition

Is your company truly focused on customer satisfaction?

B. Dalton (a bookseller later acquired by Barnes and Noble) was famous for its relentless customer care. One Christmas, a mother was shopping for a book her son requested. An employee scanned the computer and found the desired book was in stock but still packed.

After unsuccessfully searching the storeroom, the employee returned with an apology. Disappointed by her inability to help, the worker then called a competing retailer, reserved the book for the customer, and printed directions to the other store. Reader DD Moffitt was stunned by this consideration. While B. Dalton missed the sale that day, it gained DD’s loyalty for life.

Trader Joe’s: Turning a Problem into a Party

One evening, a mother and son were grabbing groceries at Trader Joe’s.

The boy (as boys are known to do) was bouncing off the walls. He ran loose from his mother, escaped to another aisle, and almost ran over an employee. The embarrassed mother moved quickly to apologize, but the employee said they were all used to it, and that shopping with children was kind of like “a dance party on the floor.”

With that, he started dodging and grooving and called several fellow employees to jam along.

They asked the shy child to join in the freezer section party, and soon the whole store was laughing. By making light of a tough situation, Trader Joe’s made this an unforgettable day.

It’s All About People

Business is about relationships, and customer service stories are wonderful because they illustrate kindness in action and spark new ideas.

Enjoy these illustrations and allow them to inspire you to take your own service to a higher level.

In Print It Plus we believe we can make our customer experience unforgetable.

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4 Strategies to Curb Communication Breakdowns

They say that the only sure thing about communication is that we tend to get it wrong.

If communication between two family members is a challenge, how much harder is communication at work? Have you ever experienced a team “fail” like this?

  • After meetings, people don’t seem to know what was said or what’s coming next. It’s like the meeting never occurred.
  • After training on a new procedure, only one person recalls the protocol.
  • Following a brainstorming session, everyone assumes someone else is covering the “next step.” The ball is dropped, resulting in blame, disillusionment, and embarrassment.

Make Your Messages Stick

Everyone knows communication is critical to success.

To run a thriving business, employees, managers, and CEOs need to communicate clearly and effectively. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of short circuits in this process, which can result in angry employees, difficult HR situations, and lost profit.

What can you do to improve team communication? Here are a few suggestions from some of today’s best leaders:

1. Kick Silo Doors Open

Many teams work well together but fail to communicate with the larger organization.

Communication silos occur when people in different departments don’t collaborate or connect to the bigger company vision. Enon Landenberg, founder and CEO of tech consulting company sFBI, says this is common:

“It’s very possible for departments to focus too much on their own work and miss out on the big ideas that only come from collaboration,” Landenberg said. “Egos [can prevent] honest discussions about the quality of work, necessary improvements and fresh ideas.”

To avoid this problem, send weekly briefings to the entire company and regularly schedule time for divisions or leaders to connect on projects, questions, or suggestions.

2. Limit Email Communication

When employees receive too many emails, they will start forgetting and ignoring the information they receive.

According to Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile, urgent messages should always be relayed by phone or in person. And when it comes to email conversations, Corbin says this:

“[I follow] the three-email rule: After three messages, we talk.”

Simplify not only the amount of email but the language you use. When technical jargon abounds, you increase the chance for errors because people can’t understand you!

3. Squash the Gossip

News travels quickly, especially if it’s bad.

Some rumors are just silly, but many contain an exaggerated seed of truth. Managers should address issues head-on rather than mopping up messes later. Even if you can’t share all the details, giving people a snapshot of the situation will build confidence and quiet dissension.

4. Lead Engaging Meetings

When people fail to listen, their minds are probably elsewhere.

The burden of communication is yours, so make meetings concise and engaging. Share the purpose of a meeting immediately, and conclude with assignments and action steps. Train managers to share only the most essential information and to use stories to illustrate a point. (e.g. “Yesterday, I got a phone call from our largest shareholder, and guess what they said?”)

Megachurch pastor Craig Groeschel says this:

“Work to keep your meetings small and your communication large. Too many [leaders] make the mistake of including too many people in too many meetings. The purpose of the meeting determines its size and . . . [it is important to] keep the discussion moving. Maintain a sense of polite urgency, pushing hard enough to keep the meeting moving but not so hard that discussion and decision-making is rushed.”

Eliminating miscommunication can head off a whole host of problems, so be intentional and make improvements each day!

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Expand Sales with Responsive Customer Surveys

Expand Sales with Responsive Customer Surveys

Airbnb is one of the most iconic names for startup success in our generation, quickly becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing companies with over 80 million reservations booked per year through their service.

A considerable part of Airbnb’s includes its responsiveness to both customers and hosts. The company regularly surveys hosts and guests and makes this a priority in their business.

Why? Here’s what Airbnb says:

“At the center of everything we do is community. Our community of hosts is what delivers magical travel to our community of guests. For more than ten years, we have worked to build this community, which now includes hosts in nearly 100,000 cities.”

A typical Airbnb survey invite looks something like this:

Hi ____,

Thanks for using Airbnb. We really appreciate you choosing Airbnb for your travel plans.

To help us improve, we’d like to ask you a few questions about your experience so far. It only takes 3 minutes, and your answers will help us make Airbnb even better for you and other guests.

Thanks,

The Airbnb Team

Airbnb politely asks for customers’ opinions after their stay, giving them the space to decide whether they want to share their feedback or not. In fact, Airbnb has increased the number of bookings by 25% with their referral program alone.

Companies like Airbnb recognize that surveys are a powerful way to:

  • Grow new sales opportunities
  • Recognize and help dissatisfied clients before they leave
  • Create deeper relationships with VIP customers
  • Build competitive advantages for a business

Six Tips for Building a Successful Survey

When it comes to customer success and satisfaction, your team must collect feedback about your product or service.

As you assess customer needs, you increase value for your company and validate strategic decisions that your leaders make.

Want to build more sustainability and growth into your business? Here are six tips for building a successful survey.

1. Keep it short and simple.

Concentrate on the 5-10 most important questions.

2. Avoid loaded questions.

Leading questions taint your survey because you tempt people to give answers they THINK you want to hear.

3. Start with basic questions that have straightforward answers.

This increases the confidence of the customer and encourages them to continue the survey (rather than abandoning the process). If open-ended questions are important to you, use them at the end of the questionnaire.

4. Avoid compounded questions.

Avoid grouping multiple questions together in one line, like: “Did you understand what the product did? Why or why not?” This increases your likelihood of gathering unclear data.

5. Target the right people.

Don’t waste your time on people who are not prospects or target customers. The RIGHT data is much more important than a plethora of unhelpful feedback!

6. Include enough people.

To know how many people to send surveys to, take your sample size (how many responses you’d like to receive) and divide it by your estimated response rate.

For example, if you want a sample of 100 customers at an estimated response rate of 10%, you would divide 100 by .10 to find that your survey should be sent to 1000 customers.

A Customer-Centric Experience

Every product or service revolves around customers and their experiences.

Well-structured survey campaigns are well worth the time and expense they involve because they allow you to assess customer needs, provide effective solutions, and increase client retention. Start with the basics and build from there. Your business will thank you later!

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Transform Customer Complaints into Great Reviews and Referrals

Transform Customer Complaints into Great Reviews and Referrals

In business, problems always arise.

Things malfunction, customers get frustrated, or miscommunication causes delays. However annoying, big problems are still a gateway for better interaction. Consider this example from Toyota:

The year was 2013, and Webin Manzana noticed the dashboard of his 2008 Camry was melting due to the sweltering weather in the Philippines. Because the warranty on his vehicle had long since lapsed, Toyota Motors Philippines refused to get involved.

Manzana, frustrated with the inherent defect in the dashboard material, decided to fax a letter directly to the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda. To his shock and delight, the next day he received a call from Toyota Motors Philippines, arranging to pick up the Camry and replace the dashboard immediately.

3 Ways to Resolve Sticky Situations

When handled poorly, customer complaints can deal a heavy blow to your business.

Here are three ways to resolve sticky situations while improving relationships with your clients.

1. Respond Quickly and Calmly

Whether you respond through e-mail or in a more personal way, time is essential in handling complaints.

Even if you can’t immediately fix a problem, remember that the thing your customer wants most is an acknowledgment of the issue and an affirmation of the frustration they feel. Listening patiently can diffuse many situations, especially if you actively sympathize and ask clarifying questions.

Put out fires quickly, and remain calm by reminding yourself the customer is not necessarily upset with you, but with the situation.

2. Tell the Customer How You Plan to Address the Problem (in detail with a specific time frame)

Once you understand why the customer is upset, you can begin to work on solutions.

If customer oversight was the only issue, a specific reparation (like partial refunds, replacements, or credits on future orders) might quickly mend the hard feelings. If you want to go a step farther, consider offering the customer not only a full refund or replacement but also a bonus item. If you are replacing a T-shirt, could you send them a second T-shirt to give away to a friend?

Every day, brand trust diminishes because of negative customer service experiences. Therefore, the psychology of offering a resolution cannot be understated.

In some situations, it may be best to ask the customer what he feels should be done to best resolve the issue. This allows a person to feel they have won (or that they were correct), and that your organization is willing to go the extra mile to make things right.

3. Keep Working to Ensure the Customer is Satisfied

After a problem is resolved, what steps will you take to follow up on your client again?

Can you call a week later, or send a follow-up e-mail after three days? Circling back gives you the chance to find out if you handled the issue thoroughly, whether a solution was effective, or if the customer had other questions.

Most people will be impressed that you take this extra step to solicit their opinion or ensure their satisfaction.

A Silver Lining

Though handling complaints can be tough, over time, it gives you greater insight into your products, your services, or into the minds of your clients.

Effective complaint management not only resolves problems, but it can transform people into advocates for your brand and sources for future referrals.

Make a small printed gift to a customer could be very helpful for your customer relationships. We, Print it Plus are happy to help you design and print your marketing materials.

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How to Effectively Guide Your Customers Through the Journey of Decision

How to Effectively Guide Your Customers Through the Journey of Decision

Do you want to be more intentional and effective in your marketing?

Maybe it’s time to refocus on the journey you want customers to take. As a map is to a road trip, a sales funnel can serve as a guide for your prospects.

Sales are more than just transactions; they involve several stages of decision. Push too hard, and people run. Keep it too casual, and they delay. What is the ideal balance? Creating a sales funnel (or a content path for prospects to follow) can engage people every step of the way.

People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist, and they won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you.

Here are five stages to consider as you seek to move them from a posture of spectating to the point of final sale.

1. Awareness

In this step, prospects learn about your existence.

Just like dating, before you can introduce yourself to someone, you need to catch their eye. As you consider this stage of communication, ask yourself, “what will drive traffic in our direction? What will spark curiosity or attract interest?” Combining excellent print and digital marketing will put a memorable face on your business.

2. Interest

Now that you’ve got their attention, be sure to keep it!

Here, prospects move beyond general awareness to intentional engagement. Ask yourself “what will engage them enough that they won’t drift away?” Seek to grow a top-of-mind presence while you showcase your skills and build their trust.

3. Consideration

Beyond just flirting, now two parties consider a match.

Your prospect evaluates your product or services, and you work hard to gain their commitment. Ask yourself, “what information do they need to make a decision?” Identify what is holding them back and outline unique selling points or benefits.

4. Action

Now it’s time for the big ask.

What irresistible offer or personal touch can you use to tip them toward action? Use incentives, bonus products, or hints of urgency to close the sale.

5. Retention

Did you know that the probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20 percent, while the chances of selling to an existing customer are estimated at 60-70 percent?

Perhaps the most essential part of your funnel is convincing current customers to keep coming back! After closing the deal ask yourself, “what messages of gratitude or additional incentives can I offer? How can I invite feedback, involve customers in an on-going conversation, or upsell the clients I already have?” The best part of a working funnel is turning one purchase into 10, or 10 sales into 100.

Begin with the End in Mind

To build a successful funnel, you need to start at the bottom. What is your ideal outcome? Define how many subscribers you want or how many products you hope to sell. Quantify the goal, then work backward to plan your marketing. Here’s one example:

The Apple Blossom boutique noticed that when they sent a printed direct mail teaser, about 20% of recipients visited a specific Apple Blossom URL that was created as an online landing page. Of these online visitors, 10% of browsers made a purchase. Using this data, Apple Blossom started at the bottom of the funnel to work backward for their marketing goals. The boutique wanted to make 100 sales for its spring promotion. If 10% of URL visitors would ultimately purchase, Apple Blossom knew they needed to bring around 1,000 people to this online landing page. If only 20% of direct mail recipients would visit them online, the boutique needed to send printed mail teasers to 5,000 individuals.

The Backbone of Customer Relationships

Sales funnels are the backbone of your customer relationships, helping you focus on the right customers and honing these relationships for maximum potential.

Offer people value at every stage and customers will put their trust in you with their wallets and their loyalty.

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Build Rapport with Readers Using Concrete Customer Personas

What is the value of print in an increasingly paperless world?

An international 2017 study revealed print brought readers greater enjoyment, deeper understanding of a product, and more willing engagement.

  • 68% of people say they do not pay attention to online ads
  • 57% do their best to avoid them.
  • Conversely, 52% prefer to read product catalogs in print
  • 45% of consumers said they like receiving personally addressed advertising or leaflets
  • 46% said they would be more likely to respond after seeing a newspaper or magazine ad (versus viewing the same copy online).

As you craft print messages, how can you build rapport with readers?

A 2014 Edelman Brandshare survey found that the majority of consumers are suspicious of brands’ intentions (only 30% believed companies had a sincere commitment to customers). With this in mind, your marketing should focus less on giving information and more on building trust.

Make Your Marketing All About Your Customers

To create the best possible experience so your prospects are ready to buy, begin with a deliberate focus on the audience (not the company) and invest intentional energy to discover who you are actually talking to.

How do you do this?

By detailing exactly who your target markets are: chronicling their pain points, struggles, or aspirations, and articulating how you can provide a delightful solution or experience for them.

3 Steps for Building Customer Personas

Here are three steps for building customer personas:

1. Ask the Right Questions

Building accurate personas means identifying what your ideal customers have in common, how you can address their desires, and how your products or content can solve their problems.

Ask questions like:

  • What do my ideal customers desire? What do they need help with?
  • What is our target demographic? What are their hobbies or interests? What risks or decisions are they navigating?
  • What professional, personal, or family challenges are they facing? What stirs their emotions (like fear, excitement, or pride)?

Focusing on identity keys makes it easier to develop high-level content that set a relevant tone and cuts to the heart.

2. Talk to People

Once you craft sample personas, go directly to current clients (via calls, e-mail, online chats, or through your sales reps) and find out as much as you can.

Test your assumptions, look for common threads, and write down individual phrases or stories people share. Fill in the gaps and gather as much information as possible.

3. Condense and Consolidate

Once you’ve gathered data, comb through and collate.

Look for common themes like concerns, hopes, desires, challenges. At this stage, craft a rough draft of several marketing personas (at least three to start with).

Brainstorm attributes for each persona, make a succinct list of identity keys, and list connection points your brand can make with these people. Name each persona (i.e. Sarah Student, Soccer Mom Sally, Broker Bill) or add images to make them come alive.

Finding Common Ground

Ultimately, humanized marketing is about delivering the type of messages your audience wants to engage with in mediums they trust the most.

Personas also give you a launchpad for asking the right questions and giving them the power to “win” as they choose for themselves.

In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible:

“People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy.”

You are building your customer service, we in  PrintItPlus always ready to help you – create the design or direct mail just right for your customers.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Coupon Campaigns

Want to get more people to pull the trigger on a purchase?

Give them a push with perfectly placed coupons! Coupons have a built-in visual appeal and an innate call to action. A coupon with a limited time offer adds a sense of urgency in a customer’s mind for two reasons:

1. If they plan to buy something, they want the best possible price.

2. If they don’t buy now, it might be out of stock (or full price again) later.

Why should you use coupons? Many reasons!

Coupon offers can make the difference between someone who’s browsing and a purchasing customer.

Coupon offers are also a major incentive to drive traffic to your website. Besides stimulating sales of existing stock, coupons also generate cross sales between products and can energize your brand.

Building a successful coupon campaign may take some trial and error. Here are several action steps get you started:

Start Small

The first step in coupon marketing is to track the performance of every campaign you launch.

If you run a small business, start by choosing one product and run 3-4 coupon specials from time to time. Feature the same product but vary the discount types, values, duration, and distribution methods. Experiment to see what works best for your business. From here you can carefully track and implement promotions that are consistent with your budget and are strategically aligned with your marketing strategy.

Set Goals

Set goals with your coupons.

Do you want to entice first-time buyers, increase purchase volumes, or get more traffic in stores? Without a clear strategy, you can’t measure your effectiveness or tailor your promotions.

For example: when appealing to new customers, an open return policy can prompt more people to buy. When upselling current clients, offering companion discounts (like buy one, get one 50% off) can be especially tempting.

Highlight Cross Promotions

Almost every business has a niche, and coupons can help you expand influence in your corner of the market.

For example, camping outfitters that specialize in lightweight tents have customers who need compression sacks to carry them and portable camp chairs to accessorize. Having a coupon combo on all three items may entice shoppers to purchase more than one type of product.

Place Coupons Where Customers Will Find Them

How will you tempt shoppers to purchase: through direct mail, in your newsletter, or with an on-site purchase incentive?

Here are a few strategies for getting coupons in their hands:

  • Offer a $15 onsite coupon if a customer buys at least three products.
    Mail a $5 gift card that can be used if a customer purchases two items this month (spending a minimum of $50).
  • Offer an additional 20% off if a customer buys anything from the same product category within the next two weeks.
  • When a customer purchases an item for the first time, offer a 25% off coupon for those who leave a review or give their personal information. 43% of consumers will exchange their personal data with companies to save money through personalized promotions, discounts, or deals!

Spread the Love

Coupons can help almost every business type and size if you are intentional and consistent.

Coupons are highly visible and shareable, creating urgency and brand awareness. Best of all, everyone loves a deal, so a smart offer can go a long way in creating satisfied customers!

Remember, people buy with their eyes, so your promotion needs to catch attention. Need ideas? Our design specialists can help you generate a coupon that screams “use me!”

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Affordable Offline Marketing for Your Small Business

Do you have a small business that could use a revenue boost?

Most marketing strategies are crafted around costly advertising campaigns, but there are many free or affordable tactics you can use to grow your business at any stage.

Here are a few offline marketing fundamentals to get you started, no matter how small your budget!

1. Take part in local events.

Sales are based on relationships, and relationships require connection.

Network in proactive ways by attending or taking part in local events. Get to know other small business owners and have your business card or flyer ready; you never know when the opportunity will present itself!

2. Create customized stickers or labels.

It’s not just a kid thing – people truly enjoy stickers!

Create a colorful custom sticker and pass them out anywhere your target users might be. Stickers and labels can be used on car windows, water bottles, notebooks, and more.

3. Start a simple rewards system.

One of the easiest ways to boost your profits is by offering current customers a loyalty incentive.

If you have repeat customers or need subscription/service renewals to succeed, you can print loyalty punch cards, start a digital point-tracking system, or mail coupons to customers who make a baseline purchase with your business.

4. Offer demonstrations.

Life is more fun when you try new things.

If you wanted to learn yoga, woodworking, or the violin, would you learn by watching or by trying? Participation is an essential way to engage the body, mind, and emotions of your prospects.

Brainstorm ways you can combine learning and doing through presentations. Whether it’s giving samples, making online teaching videos, or offering live demonstrations at an industry event, engage your customers by getting them involved.

5. Launch cross promotions.

Is there some way you can build rapport between your business and another firm?

Work with another entrepreneur to offer giveaways, contests, or product discounts. During one holiday, GameStop and PayLess shoes partnered on a cross-promotional campaign. Shoppers at the video game retailer received register coupons for the shoe store, while shoppers at PayLess got discount coupons for GameStop. Because many of their stores are in close proximity, it was a winning strategy for both retailers. Cross promotions can include joint mailings, coupon partnerships, shared booth space, or promoting each other through social media.

6. Spread the word.

Got flyers? Door hangers and sell sheets? Looking to share the love? Go classic and canvas your area.

Pound the pavement and leave your print materials on porches, doorknobs, windows, cars, and more. Leave your business cards on restaurant tables, at coffee shops, in libraries, or even on mirrors. If you’re feeling brave, do some cold calling after you canvas and ask if you can share some follow up info.

7. Perfect your pitch.

What do you sell? What problem can you solve? If you can’t explain yourself in a single sentence, then you have a problem.

Like a great campaign slogan, an elevator pitch should summarize your business, product, or service in a concise, convincing fashion. YOU are your best advertisement, so have a short, convincing statement ready to introduce your business to new customers or colleagues any moment the opportunity is at hand!

A Building Block for the Future

Most of these tactics are inexpensive, but they do take time and effort.

Remember, results won’t come immediately, but boosting your name now can increase your revenue and enable you to cast a larger net in the future. Give us a call or visit our website to chat about affordable printed resources you can add to your offline marketing arsenal today.

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5 Customer Service Phrases to Avoid (and What to Say Instead)

In May of 2018, Barbara Carroll ordered three cartons of toilet paper from Amazon. The order total: $88.17. The shipping charges? $7,455.

Carroll wasn’t overly concerned, as Amazon typically takes great care of its customers. But in this case, Carroll complained to Amazon six times and even wrote a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos. After every complaint, she received a form letter explaining a refund was impossible because the delivery arrived on time and undamaged. It wasn’t until Carroll notified a local television station (and the story went viral) that Amazon took action. Months later, she was finally reimbursed.

While this case is extreme, every company has its share of customer service flops. In some situations, the problem is no communication. In other cases, it’s inconsiderate attitudes.

Want to steer your team toward positivity? Here are five customer services phrases to avoid.

1. “No” (or) “I can’t help you with that.”

Even if a customer makes an impossible request, it’s your responsibility to care for them and to steer them toward a solution.

Alternatives to try:

“This feels like an issue which might be out of my control, but let me double check . . .”

“That’s not my area of expertise, but I want to connect you with someone who can help.”

2. “I don’t know” (or) “You need to check with someone else.”

If you can’t solve a problem, be as helpful as possible. Rather than abandoning someone mid-stream, work with them to find an answer.

Alternatives to try:

“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

“I’m not sure, but I’d be happy to look into that.”

3. “Ok, calm down.”

When diffusing a tense situation, telling someone to calm down usually frustrates them more. Instead, communicate empathy and turn the focus from the problem to the solution.

Alternatives to try:

“I understand how this must have upset you, and I’ll get on it immediately.”

“That would frustrate me too.”

“I’m sorry for this inconvenience. Let me help you with that right away.”

4. “I don’t understand the issue.”

People who are upset find uncertainty even more frustrating. If you’re struggling to connect, clarify the issue or soften your request.

Alternatives to try:

“OK, so let me clarify…”

“What I’m hearing is [ISSUE], is that correct?

“If it’s not too much of a problem, I would ask you to be a bit more specific…”

5. “I’m going to put you on hold.”

Time is valuable, so don’t assume you can extend a service call without asking permission. If you do have someone hold, check back with a status update if they’ve waited longer than two minutes.

Alternatives to try:

“I understand your issue and if it’s ok, I’m going to ask you to hold on while I check on a solution.”

“The problem you’re describing is rather peculiar, so if you have a minute, I’d like to put you on hold while I check with my supervisor.”

“I’ll get right on it. If it’s ok, I’d like to look into this today and call back to you once I resolve this.”

Ultimately, customer service is not about the right words but the right attitudes. Remember, the biggest customer service frustration question is “why isn’t this as important to you as it is to me?” As you handle issues, address the person behind the problem. Communicate with compassion, empathy, and enthusiasm, and you will find your way through many sticky situations.

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How to Use Silence to Strengthen Your Leadership Presence

Jack Reacher is a fictional character in a series of crime thriller novels by British author Lee Child.

In the 1997 novel Killing Floor, Reacher randomly exits a Greyhound bus in Georgia and is later arrested in a local diner for a murder he did not commit. While questioned in custody, Reacher wields the power of silence to maintain his personal advantage:

“Long experience had taught me that absolute silence is the best way. Say something, and it can be misheard. Misunderstood. Misinterpreted. It can get you convicted. It can get you killed. Silence upsets the arresting officer. He has to tell you silence is your right but he hates it if you exercise that right. I was being arrested for murder. But I said nothing.”

Communicate Authority with Silence

Silence holds immense power, especially in situations that involve negotiation.

As inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci said, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” Dynamic leaders often use silence to their benefit. When handled with intention and purpose, silence is what some leaders call “a communication superpower.”

Do you tend to interrupt, dominate conversations, or explain your perspective from multiple angles in order to sway opinion? If silence is an overlooked resource in your communication toolkit, you might need to change strategies.

Silence can increase your authority and grow your influence in at least four powerful ways.

Silence Builds Trust

According to best-selling author Bryant H. McGill, “one of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

If you want to develop effective relationships, you must build trust. And trust begins with listening. Unfortunately, most people don’t listen with the intent to hear, they listen with the intent to reply. When people realize you are truly listening to them, they are much more likely to buy into your ideas.

Silence Can Emphasize Your Point

When you have something important to say, state it briefly and allow a long pause for your words to sink in.

Communication is more than the words we speak, it involves the energy we transmit. When you give room for a lengthy pause, you show people you aren’t scrambling to convince them. And as your words fully land with others, you don’t need to talk as much because silence creates room for people to understand and connect to what you are saying.

Silence Communicates Credibility

Have you ever sat through a meeting where several people squabbled while one person stayed silent?

Eventually, everyone felt tension and curiosity about what the quiet party was thinking. When a silent observer finally interjects an opinion, it speaks louder than the clamor and carries a more memorable quality. “She is so wise,” people think, because sometimes there is a credibility that can only be communicated through silence.

Also, it never hurts to take a lengthy period of time to think before commenting. Abraham Lincoln has been credited with this quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Silence Increases Negotiating Power

A primary negotiation tactic involves asking a question and letting the other person answer first.

Silence when negotiating can give you the advantage because its “deafening” weight can prompt others to speak first. For example, when the other party offers a salary figure or point of compromise, don’t answer immediately. Instead, pause and let the discomfort of silence flush out a bit more detail. Maybe they will offer more or show their own hand.

Leaders know how to use silence as a tactic to communicate authority and influence. Experiment with silence during your conversations and observe the impact it can make.

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