180 Ways to Walk the Customer Service Talk

Who are your customers? How is your customer service? In my day job, I serve customers every day, some external and many internal. My monthly paycheck ultimately comes from my customers. My employer just handles the money.

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But I believe that beyond my day job, I serve many other customers: my family, my small group, my church, and, you, the readers of this blog. So, am I applying all those great customer service skills that I’m learning at work to everywhere else I serve people? I certainly hope so. You might be surprised at the difference this can make.

To help you reach your goal of world class customer service, I want to share a great book, 180 Ways to Walk the Customer Service Talk, from the folks over at Walk the Talk. Only 43 pages long, I read this in about 45 minutes. And you want to make sure you have a yellow highlighter in hand.

A few excerpts from the book:

Tip 20 – Here’s a biggie: Never tell a customer that you can’t do something unless you immediately follow with a description of what you CAN do for them! Customer service is about DOING–not explaining or rationalizing what you’re not doing.

Tip 22 – Set a personal goal to become an expert on the products and services you offer. Read manuals and marking brochures; talk with product developers, vendors, and service deliverers; use the products and services yourself. The more you know, the better your service will be.

Tip 31 – Always, always, ALWAYS thank customers for their business. Tell them how much you appreciate their choosing your organization for the products and services they need.

Tip 68 – Two more DONT’S: Don’t make excuses, and don’t quote your policy manual. Once again, customers aren’t interested. The absolute best thing you can is do is FOCUS ON THE FIX!

Tip 93 – Focus on the customer’s needs instead of your own. Start each day with the thought, “I want to help as many people as possible today,” rather than “I want to sell a lot today” or “I hope I have an easy day.” Your customers will sense your helpful attitude and they’ll return.

Tip 108 – THROW IN AN EXTRA! Everyone loves getting more than they expected … “getting something for nothing.”

So allow me to conclude by saying THANK YOU to all the followers of this blog! In the spirit of customer service and appreciation, I want to throw a little something EXTRA your way–a giveaway.

I want to give away a copy of 180 Ways to Walk the Customer Talk and one of my handmade pens. The pictured pen is made from genuine Bethlehem Olive from the Holy Land, and it comes equip with an iPad stylus on one end. All you have to do is leave a comment in response to the question below. I’ll announce the winner next week.

What is your favorite customer service tip or advice?

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12 Responses to 180 Ways to Walk the Customer Service Talk

  1. Thank you for this post and for the generous EXTRA. That’s one handsome pen, Scott. Excellent work, my friend.

    In my current day job, I manage front line service workers, all of whom I inherited when I came on board a couple of months ago. Some of these employees are conscientious and hard working. Some are not.

    I began the job with a management philosophy of having a positive attitude, setting clear expectations, and leading by example. I am learning more and more that the administering of discipline is, in fact, a service to my customer subordinates. It reinforces my expectations of their performance and behavior, and gives the employees the opportunity to adjust their attitudes and improve their work ethic.

    Further, in the unfortunate case of having to terminate an employee whose performance and behavior merits such action, it affords me other opportunities to serve by improving the morale of the remaining staff, and by making room on the team for someone who is looking for a job and is willing to do it well.

    • Great advice, Henry! We should hold high expectations for our employees regarding customer service. I was in a meeting this past week and we are looking at an aptitude assessment tool on customer service skills to use for hiring new employees. The facilitator kept emphasizing that conscientiousness continued to surface as the key factor which determined who was most successful with customer service. Hopefully, this tool will help us hire more people who have natural or already developed interpersonal skills that lead to world class customer service.

  2. Don Morse says:

    I will give two of my favorites from my 16 years in retail.
    1. Greet all customers, even a nod (if you cannot talk atm) to let them know that you know they are there.
    2. Phones… ANSWER THE PHONE. The phone customer is also very important. Nobody likes listening to a ringing phone. I always told my employees that the customer in front of you knows the phone is ringing but the customer calling does not know there is a customer in front of you.

    BTW Scott, thank you as well.

    • Thanks, Don! I see this with our younger generation and their interaction with the customer. In some cases, we seem to be losing the art of face-to-face interaction. Many people would rather send a text or an email, rather than making a face-to-face visit. Although I love this blogging thing, I always feel that I’m at a disadvantage because it’s difficult to engage with readers on a more personal level.

  3. servicekaizen says:

    One more to add…and the additions can be endless….learn from each encounter. What went right? What could have been better? What went sideways? What can we do to learn from each interaction to make the next interaction that much better? Keeping a log or diary really helps here.

  4. I’ve already won one of your wonderful pens (thank you), so let someone else win this time. But, I wanted to emphasize the importance of just listening to the customer, really listening to what they have to say.

  5. For those who would like to enter the giveaway, remember you don’t have to be an expert in customer service. We all know what we want as a customer. Feel free just to share how you like to be treated as a customer.

  6. I guess my biggest pet peeves is a representative trying to sell you what he wants you to have (usually involving a bonus or higher commission) instead of what you need or want. With the abundance go information and the relative ease of compiling that information, most customers aren’t as uninformed as they once were.

    • I agree with you 100%. It seems that with some companies there are consistent conflicts between their goal–maximizing profits–and the customer’s goal of getting the best deal. I think the better strategy would be to satisfy the customer and keep that customer for life. They maximize profits in the long run because it’s less costly to sell to loyal customers.

  7. Congratulations, Celebratingfifty! Your name was randomly selected as the winner of the giveaway! Just use the Contact link and email me the location you’d like me to send your winnings.

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