Customer Service Tips: 5 Things You Should Never Say

3.4.13_Customer Service over Social
We’ve all been there, dealing with challenging customers. Don’t make the situation any worse. Here are five things you should never say to customers (even if you feel like it).

1. I’m sorry you feel that way. The problem with this statement is that it doesn’t validate the customer’s complaint. It comes off sounding dismissive and irreverent rather than sincere and caring, and it will likely only increase tension, not diminish it.

Try saying this instead: “Oh, gosh. That does sound frustrating, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. Let me investigate further and see what solutions we can come up with.”

Why this is a better strategy: You’re acknowledging the customer’s complaint. This simple validation—I hear you—can go a long way in defusing a customer’s anger. Plus, you’re showing the customer that you’ve really heard his complaint by offering to investigate further.

2. Sorry, but we can’t do that. We understand that the customer might be asking for something unreasonable, impossible, or both. So saying “sorry, but we can’t do that,” (and nothing more) might sound perfectly acceptable to you. But put yourself in the customer’s shoes. A response like this could come off as flip and unhelpful. If you work in customer service, your job is to help the customer, not frustrate her more. What she wants might not be something you can do. But you can gently and compassionately explain why and offer some other options, right?

Try saying this instead: “Oh, boy…I wish I had better news, but, unfortunately, we can’t do that, and here’s why.” (Then offer a reasonable explanation). “But here’s what we can do.” (Offer an alternative.)

Why this is a better strategy: You’re essentially saying the same thing, but you’re softening the delivery, and you’re offering solutions to the problem.

3. You’re wrong. Let’s face it: no truer statement might have ever been spoken. But we guarantee you’re not going to defuse a customer’s anger by saying it.

Try saying this instead: “Let me investigate this further for you. Can I call or email you back within the hour?”

Why this is a better strategy: The person who is yelling at you on the phone needs to get it out of his or her system. Chances are good that in an hour, the person will have cooled down a bit. (Yes, there are always exceptions.) Plus, this “cool down” gives you time to truly investigate further (in other words, the offer to look into things shouldn’t simply be lip service).

This extra time might allow you to gather objective evidence—an invoice, a web page on your site that outlines policies, and so forth—that will support your position (i.e. this “evidence” will demonstrate that the customer is, in fact, wrong, but without you have to bluntly state it).

4. There’s nothing I can do. There’s always something you can do, right? The customer might not like what you have to offer, but at least you’ve made a genuine effort.

Try saying this instead: “Let me regroup and see what we can do. I’ll email you options by the end of the day.”

Why this is a better strategy: First, it shows you’re making an effort on the customer’s behalf. You’ve heard the customer, and you’re acting on it. As we mentioned above, this is often the main thing the customer needs: to be heard. Second, by moving the conversation to email, you create a paper trail, you have more control over the conversation (upset customers can escalate quickly on the phone), and you put the ball back in the customer’s court. You’re providing options, now the customer needs to make the “final” call.

Sure, you will sometimes encounter a customer who won’t be satisfied with any of the options. That’s when you can say, “Unfortunately, those are the only options available right now.” (This is still softer than saying, “There’s nothing I can do.”) At this point, the customer might decide to walk away (or you might decide to essentially “fire” the customer, which is fine). But whatever you say, say it with respect and authenticity.

5. Is there something else I can help you with? Sounds like a friendly statement, doesn’t it? But have you ever dealt with a customer service rep who doesn’t help you—at all—with your main complaint, talks in circles, and then has the gall to ask “is there anything else I can help you with?” (As you probably guessed, we’ve had this happen to us.)

Try saying this instead: “You called about X. Have I taken care of all of your concerns with that?” (LISTEN to the customer, including the person’s tone of voice. And ask yourself if you’ve really helped the person. Be honest with yourself.) If the person says yes (and you believe her), then you can ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Why this strategy is better: What’s the point in asking if you can help more when you haven’t even helped the person to begin with? Don’t rush to end the conversation (in call centers, closing cases is important, but we believe it’s even more important to close them successfully, meaning the customer is satisfied and won’t call back). By asking the customer if you’ve indeed helped her with her initial problem, you’re clarifying—to her and yourself—whether you can move on to your next question.

Agree or disagree with our suggestions? Are there any other no-no’s you’d add to this list? Share away in the comments!

Posted in Customer Relations, Small Business Marketing, Small Business Resource | Tagged | Leave a comment

How to Set a Marketing Budget

Home Office Design Tips from the Frontlines
You probably know how important it is to have a marketing plan. But what about the money that will support that plan? How do you figure that out?

If you find the money part incredibly perplexing, don’t worry (and know that you’re not alone). Here’s how to arrive at the magic money number.
Continue reading

Posted in Small Business Marketing, Small Business Resource | Tagged | Leave a comment

6 Reasons to Have Regular Employee Reviews

World's Best Employee mug

Have you been wondering whether you should have regular employee reviews? The answer is yes. Here’s why.

1. Regular communication is critical to success. If your employees operate in a vacuum where they have no formal feedback on their performance, how are they going to know what areas they’re doing well in and what areas need improvement? Sure, they’ll likely have some idea, but it’s easy to fall in the trap that no news is good news. Your employee might think she’s doing a perfectly fine job, while you think otherwise.

2. Getting an employee to the next level in her career requires strategic planning. Even stellar employees need goals and things to reach for. Employee reviews provide an opportunity to look back but also plan new goals.

3. Millennials demand it. Even if your organization hasn’t experienced an influx of Millennials yet, it will sometime in the near future. This newest generation of workers is hitting the workforce in droves, and they’re bringing new needs and new ways of doing things. Millennials work best with regular feedback. If you’re thinking of skipping out on employee reviews with this demographic, you’ll find yourself with many unhappy employees.

4. Paper trails matter. They matter when it comes to promotions and raises. They matter when it comes to a wide variety of legal issues (reminder: we’re not lawyers, so don’t take this as legal advice). Having a complete dossier on each employee, one that includes the paperwork a formal review generates, will also help HR, talent management (matching mentors and mentees, for example), and diversity managers.

5. Regular reviews can illuminate organizational challenges. If you’re conducting regular reviews, and you consistently hear employees bringing up the same issue, you know you have to address it at an organizational level. By the way, don’t expect to hear only bad things. Employee reviews can also illuminate stuff you’re doing right. For example, if you’re running a mentoring program, you might hear positive feedback from employees during their reviews.

6. You can inject a fresh dose of motivation into employees’ work life. Let’s face it: even the most ambitious person needs a boost from time to time. Regular reviews can provide that motivation by acknowledging what the employee is doing well and giving her something to reach for.

So how often should you hold employee reviews, and what are some tips for making them successful? Shoot for quarterly reviews. For all of you managers out there groaning at the thought of all the paperwork, hear us out.

First, as we mentioned above, younger workers crave regular feedback. This need is only going to increase as more Millennials come on board.

Second, by conducting quarterly reviews (instead of annual reviews), you can actually decrease the amount of paperwork and the amount of time devoted to these reviews. Why? Because you’ll only be reviewing three months’ worth of performance instead of twelve. These reviews, as a result, become a bit more casual and comfortable, which is good for everyone.

Another way to look at it is like this: it’s much easier for managers to deliver feedback on three months of work and it’s much easier for employees to digest the feedback than it would be for a year’s worth of work. We’re not alone in our thinking on this, either. This article from AOL Small Business emphasizes the importance of quarterly reviews.

As for tips on how to conduct performance reviews, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Forget how performance reviews have been done in the past. News flash: there’s no such thing as The Performance Review Police Force. In other words, there are no laws on how to conduct them, so guess what? YOU get to decide how they should run. Create the type of review process that you would welcome. Think less paperwork, more conversation, and a casual, comfortable atmosphere.
  • Don’t do all the talking. If you want to make these reviews truly productive and comfortable for you and the employee, turn them into conversations. Share your thoughts, but then ask the employee for feedback on your feedback. Listen to what she has to say. Clarify points. Answer questions.
  • Keep notes, of course. Yes, a review is going to generate some paperwork. But don’t feel you must use lengthy forms or spreadsheets. Create a document that works for you and your employees. If you’re meeting quarterly, this probably won’t be longer than two to three pages. Don’t have time to create a document? No problem! We have a variety of performance management forms that you can customize for your needs.

Do you conduct regular employee reviews? How often do you do them? What are some other do’s and don’ts that you can think of? Share in the comments below.

Posted in Employee relations, Small Business Resource | Tagged , | Leave a comment

10 Employee Retention Strategies That’ll Keep Your People Happy

Supporting Your Local Community
If you’re managing a bunch of eager employees, you’ll want to harness that energy, encourage them to succeed, and foster their loyalty to your company. Here are ten strategies for doing all that while keeping them happy to boot.
Continue reading

Posted in Employee relations, Small Business Resource | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Road Race Essentials: 8 Promotional Products for Fall Classics

Fall is a big time for road races for a wide variety of charities and causes. If your business is involved as a sponsor, make sure you extend your visibility by using one (or more) of these promotional product essentials.

1. Sport-Tek® Sleeveless Tee. Whether you’re running a race or working the route, it’s important to be comfortable, especially in warmer weather. This sleeveless tee from Sport-Tek is exactly what you need. The material naturally wicks away moisture, keeping you dry under pressure. Choose from seven vibrant colors and don’t forget to personalize with your company name and logo.

sport-tek sleeveless tee2. Sport-Tek® Sleeveless Tee Ladies. It has all the same great qualities as the Sport-Tek tee we described above, except for the fact this one has been specifically designed to fit a woman’s body.

sport tek sleeveless tee ladies3. Sport-Tek Wind Pants – Adult. Maybe you’re racing in inclement weather. Or maybe you want to stay covered as you’re stretching and warming up. Or maybe you’re cheering from the sidelines or working a water station and you’ve noticed a definite chill in the air. These wind pants are just what you—and your team members—need.

Made from 100% polyester with mesh lining above the knees and poly lining below, these wind pants feature side pockets, a back pocket with hook and loop, and extended leg zippers. We’ll screen print your name and logo just below the flexible elastic waistband on the left hip. And the best part? People will continue wearing this long after the race is done (think trips to the gym, hanging out at weekend football games, or casual weekends away).

sport tek wind pants4. Polysure Refresh Water Bottle 24Oz. Made in the USA, these custom water bottles are the perfect promotional product to support your local road races. The wide-mouth design makes cleaning a breeze (and you can easily add ice cubes to cool down your water even more). Plus, this bottle is leak-resistant with a convenient push-pull lid. Sure, the runners and people working the water station will be grateful for it during the race, but we suspect they’ll continue using it long after the race is over. And that’s a good thing.

polysure refresh water bottle

5. Fitness Bottle 20 Oz. Go even greener, with these fitness bottles, which are constructed from reusable and recyclable (HDPE) material (and yep, they’re BPA-free, too). One happy customer noted, “This product offered a wide array of color combinations which made it easy to match the colors with our theme … plus INCLUDE the event theme name. I was delighted with the functionality and quality for the price!”

fitness bottle

6. H2go Angle Bottle 30 Oz. This isn’t your grandma’s water bottle, that’s for sure. No, this bottle has attitude. It’s sleek, but it still gets the job done: it carries 30 ounces of liquid, and it has a flip-up straw, carrying loop, and silicone grip. Thanks to its modern vibe, your custom imprint will stand out, no doubt.

h2go angle bottle

7. Tritan Stripe Bottle 24 Oz. This water bottle is all about FUN, so make sure you have plenty of it when you choose the fun color combinations for the bottle, stripes, and lid. This bottle doesn’t just look great, either. It’s also BPA-free, made in the USA, and dishwasher safe (something we like to hear, right?).

tritan stripe bottle

8. Fanny Pack. When you’re out and about on race day (or gym day, or grocery shopping day, or…), don’t worry about where you put your keys, your phone, your license, and your cash. Keep it all in one safe, secure place with this fanny pack. And know that wherever your travels take you, your company name will be front and center.

fanny packWhich item is your favorite? Are you—or is your company—participating in any fall classics this year? Share in the comments.

Posted in Advertising, Amsterdam Printing, Branding, Promotional Products, Small Business Marketing, Small Business Resource | Tagged | Leave a comment

Business Procrastination BUSTED

Portrait Beauty Product Shop Manager
Are you a business owner with a million great ideas that you never implement? Do you have trouble keeping up with your marketing plan? Was there snow on the ground the last time you sent an email newsletter? If you said yes to any (or all) of these, know that you’re not alone. Business procrastination is a real thing, and it can suck the life out of you and your business if you let it.

So let’s do something about it, shall we? Here’s how to bust business procrastination right where it hurts.
Continue reading

Posted in Small Business Marketing, Small Business Resource | Tagged | Leave a comment

Promotional Lunch Totes: Not Your Grandma’s Bagged Lunch

ella neoprene lunch bag

In honor of the upcoming back-to-school and back-to-work season, we thought we’d promotional lunch bags and totes. First, let’s talk about the benefits:

Continue reading

Posted in Advertising, Amsterdam Printing, Branding, Customer Relations, Employee relations, Promotional Products, Small Business Resource | Tagged | Leave a comment