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Detailed Book Information

The Customer Service Companion

Yes! Press, 1996

Price: $10.95

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Book information:


Section One: The Essentials of Service

Chapter 1: Customer Service: You Know “The Secret”

We are all customers, and we all have customers. In fact, your experiences as a customer, the lessons you’ve learned, both good and bad, have made you an expert on service. You know the secret to giving good service, and you learned it long ago. As a consumer, you’ve been served well and served poorly. You know how you want to be treated and how you don’t. You know, firsthand, how an employee’s positive or negative attitude can affect you. This awareness can help you in your work every day.

When it comes to service, most of us know what we should do, but doing it consistently is tough. Yet, when you recall your most positive consumer experiences—how it felt to receive great service— chances are, you think of the person, not the product. Remember an individual who treated you especially well, singled you out, and made the entire transaction pleasant and memorable. You are that person to your customers; you are the one they will remember. You understand the power of a smile and how one’s friendly, helpful manner leaves a positive, lasting impression.

The secret in service is people, and that means you. Selling or serving customers well is simply a matter of putting what you know into practice. And it’s no secret that the more you practice, the easier it gets!

Customers remember people over products. The real secret to service is you!


Chapter 5: People First, Paper Second

How many times have you requested information from a sales or service representative, only to have them hand you a piece of paper instead of offering a face-to-face explanation? Were you disappointed? Were you looking for a friendly exchange instead of a flyer in your hand? Here is a simple, yet powerful customer service secret: people first, paper second.

It helps to remember that service and sales involve building relationships. Paper can wait, but people won’t. If customers are too quickly presented wi th, “What is your account number?” or “Do you have any insurance?” or “Here, this brochure explains…” they may just walk out the door. You retain customers by building positive, long-term relationships, and customers remain loyal when they believe there is something in it for them. So get them invested. When your customers feel as if they share some kind of special relationship with you, they will be more likely to return.

Yes, you can actually be too quick to offer information—even answers. Just remember to take a moment and establish a relationship before you address the customer’s request. Putting people first and paper second will help your customers think of you first—every time!

Service works best when you put people’s needs first and paperwork needs second.

Chapter 19: Counting What Really Counts

Have you ever noticed that when we’re having a bad day we tend to keep track of it, counting every irritation or inconvenience that occurs. You’ve heard the familiar complaint, “This is the third time today something lousy has happened!” And while this may be a natural reaction, seldom, on a good day, do we exclaim, “This is the third time today something great has happened!”

So why do we keep track of the negatives but not the positives? Counting bad incidents simply adds to our stress, so consider the benefits of tallying the good things instead. For example, you might discover that far more positive events occur than negative ones. Keeping track of good experiences puts you in a better frame of mind, motivating you to help others feel more positive, too. This increases the chances of everyone having a better time; what a nice thought!

And you just might find yourself anticipating incidents to celebrate rather than anguishing over the next terrible thing that’s certain to happen any moment now. It’s worth a try, isn’t it? Just remember, you are the scorekeeper; it’s up to you to make the good times count!

Irritations are what you find when you allow negatives to enter your mind.

Section Two: 101 Quick Reminders on Customer Service

Attitude is what makes a boring job fun or a fun job boring.

People first, paper second!

Giving good service means you go home feeling good about yourself instead of bad about others.

If you treat your family like customers and your customers like family, things tend to work out pretty well.

Only 20% of your customers give you problems, so why let 20% of your customers ruin 80% of your day?

(there are 95 more of these gems in the book that you can put in newsletters, on posters, or use as paycheck envelope stuffers)

Section Three: Service Skills in Action

When the Customer is Wrong

Earlier in The Companion, we discussed the idea that while customers are often wrong, there is no future in making them feel wrong. You will get further with people if you are tactful, diplomatic, and able to deflect their objections or arguments.

The following approaches are equally effective in both spoken and written communication.

Respond with a neutral statement first: I appreciate your asking about that... Other people have been under that impression... I know other customers who thought that, too…

And then gently correct the customer’s perceptions: Actually, what you really need to do is... The correct procedure is... Here’s the situation in a nutshell… Let the customer know the next step in the process. So once we get this information from you we should be able to… Now that you understand exactly what we need, we can go ahead and… So all we need to do now is…

Express your appreciation and anticipation of a positive outcome: I do appreciate your flexibility… I think you’ll be pleased with the results… Perhaps in the future we will have more options…

In customer service, it pays to keep things simple and cordial. These examples will help you do that, every step of the way. Remember — the better you handle a situation, the more likely your customer will too!

The 4R Method for Fast Recovery

It can be stressful listening to complaints, criticism, or conflicting perceptions, yet it is part of your job. Here’s one way you can quickly recover from service stress and refocus on the positive parts of your job. 4R means Recovery: Relax, Review, Resolve, Reset.

Relax. Once the stressful interaction is over, take a nice deep cleansing breath and let your body relax. Now that the situation is over, it’s in your best interest to let it go. Remind yourself that you can “hear it and clear it.” Release any tightness or tension in your face and shoulders and take another nice, deep breath.

Review. Take a moment to review what just happened. Immediately make notes or take whatever prompt follow-up action you promised. Considering what you now know, determine how you might handle a similar situation in the future. Identify one thing you’d do differently, and one thing you feel good about having done.

Resolve. Remind yourself that while you cannot control how other people feel or behave, you are totally and completely in charge of how you feel and behave. Resolve to remain objective and forget your bad feelings so you can effectively move on to more important issues.

Reset. Now that the situation is over, reset your attitude. You know that replaying a past situation is self-defeating, stressful, and an unproductive use of your time. Consciously choose to let it go and move forward. You can reset your attitude as often as you need to. Smile and give yourself a compliment. You deserve it!

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© 2008 Leslie Charles, Yes! Press & Trainingworks / Webmaster: Tara E. Nofziger