Customer Service Archives - TAB Corporate

CEOs Save Time by Learning to Say “No”

Learn to Say No!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many times in a day do people approach you or your gatekeeper with a request, suggestion or some other time-consuming appeal? Like many other business leaders, your first inclination may be to say, “OK,” or “Yes, I’ll look into that.” You want to help others or find ways to move a process along with your input.

But the reality is, by rarely or never saying, “No,” you waste a significant amount of your precious (and finite) time. When you “prioritize [another] person’s needs over your own,” says psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, “you’ll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount.”

Saying “no” comes naturally to some, but if it’s an issue that continues to interrupt your daily work pattern—and negatively impacts your company’s efficiency—here are tips to get more comfortable with this answer.

Be polite, but firm. Rather than agreeing to a request, let the other person know what they’re asking for just isn’t possible at this (or, maybe, any other) time.

Don’t make excuses or give the impression you’ll get to it “soon.” Instead, politely but firmly say, “I’m sorry, but my schedule is full and I can’t assist you with this request.” If possible, direct them to someone else who may be able to help.

Provide context for your answer. People who ask for your assistance may think twice the next time if you provide a fuller explanation as to why “no” is now your default answer.

Business leader Kathy Bloomgarden advises CEOs to “take a step back and provide your rationale in the context of the company’s goals and priorities” as well as its relation to the market in general. “Leverage each discussion as an opportunity to strengthen the vision of where the whole team is going” and what’s needed to get there.

Say “no” to ideas that don’t fit your company’s strategic plan. People inside and beyond your company walls are likely bombarding you all the time with “great” ideas about how to improve business and acquire new customers.

Some ideas may be worth pursuing—in which case, the best response is to direct the person towards someone else in the company who’s better positioned to explore the idea further. At the same time, if you foresee that pursuing that idea might take time and resources your business can’t afford, it’s best to say no at the outset (with a brief explanation as to why). It all comes down to whether the next great idea genuinely fits within the parameters of where you see the business going in the coming months and years.

Be prepared to say “no” to a client. Of course, a client is the last person to whom you want to use “no” as an answer. But there may come a time when what they want from your company simply doesn’t fit with your existing resources or strategic objectives. Or they may ask for some sort of “exclusive arrangement” by which you can’t reach out to other prospective clients.

In such cases, it’s usually best to turn down the request in a forthright, respectful manner. Alternatively, notes financial adviser Andrew Schrage, you can “restate the problem” and “focus on the things you are able to do, rather than the ones you aren’t.” This way, it’s possible to say “no” to the client and yet retain their loyalty and gratitude.

Saying “no” doesn’t have to entail negative or unpleasant associations. It can pave the way towards greater efficiency (for the CEO) and motivation to take action on their own (on the part of senior executives and employees). It reinforces the idea that the CEO or business leader must prioritize their time in pursuit of strategic growth.

Want more great ideas on how to manage your time? Gain instant access to a video explaining “The 15 Golden Rules of Time Management.”

 

 

 

5 Ways to Improve Your Employees’ Customer Service Skills

customer service skills

You can have the best product or service imaginable, but the value and integrity of your business is nearly always determined by the quality of service you and your employees provide to customers. And while it seems unfair, you may never hear about the negative experiences your customers have, since many of them will simply switch allegiances to a competitor whom they believe (rightly or wrongly) can serve them better.

Protecting against such a possibility is a compelling reason to continuously improve your employees’ customer service skills. Also, by leaving the present state of customer service “just as it is” for too long often means mistakes go unnoticed, bad habits become ingrained, and before you know it, the “customer service differentiator” you’ve always relied on is no longer working in your favor.

Here are five tips on enhancing the quality of service your employees provide and thus keeping your customers happy:

customer service, improve your employees' customer service1. Make sure dedicated channels are always working. Every system you have in place for communicating with customers should be operating at peak efficiency at all times. This includes email, phone and the “Contact Us” function on your website. Conduct periodic tests of all available touchpoints so you’re confident customers can reach you when they want to.

2. Beef up your customer representatives’ “people skills.” Certain interactive personality traits are crucial for treating customers with the respect and dignity they deserve. It’s well worth the time and expense involved to ensure your customer reps exhibit these traits in all of their customer interactions. Here are essential traits recommended by the survey solutions firm SurveyMonkey:

  • Empathy and patience. Reps must be able to respond in a level manner to customers who are irritable, slow to formulate their concerns, persistent with repeated questions, etc.
  • Adaptability. The ability to react appropriately to whatever surprises customers throw at you is another quintessential customer service skill.
  • Communicating clearly. Ambiguous or misleading answers to customer questions only make a difficult situation worse. A customer rep needs to provide information in a clear and coherent manner.
  • Comprehensive product knowledge. A rep must be “informed enough to respond to most inquiries and know where to turn if the questions become too detailed or technical for you to answer.”
  • Handle angry or insulting customers. A good customer service rep can’t afford to feel personally insulted by an angry caller. The goal is always to rectify a situation and leave the customer satisfied with the outcome.

3. Be adept at using social media to serve your customers. The quality of a company’s customer service efforts is always being judged (and commented upon) on social media. That’s why it’s imperative to have at least one service rep dedicated to monitoring your company’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and other relevant platforms. Their skills should include being able to engage respectfully with users who leave comments, so it’s clear your business values active interaction with its customer base.

4. Find ways to honor your best and most loyal customers. SurveyMonkey also suggests seeking out opportunities to provide “VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated.” No one ever wants to be taken for granted, and your loyal customers should be periodically rewarded in some way for sticking with your business.

Be open to feedback at all times. Perhaps the best way to fine-tune your employees’ customer service skills is by collecting all the feedback and data you can. Among the options for gathering such information:

  • Phone surveys
  • Email survey
  • A comments section on your “Contact Us” page

Consider offering an incentive to participate in your customer service survey, thereby increasing the likelihood of a qualitative response.

Just as you place a high value on continuous research and development, it’s important to always look for ways to enhance the service you provide your customers. Often, it’s the deciding factor in whether or not they choose to do business with you.

Think a peer advisory board could help your company–with customer service and many other topics? Find a TAB Board today!