Dec 18

CUSTOMER SERVICE CORNER: Manage crunch times on the phone

crunch-time-on-phoneWhen the phone lines start lighting up, you can’t lose your cool. If there is more than one caller on the line, not only do you have to prioritize calls, you have to check with individual callers to see if they are okay with being put on hold.

Here’s what you should do when the phone lines are going crazy (so you and your customers don’t go crazy too):

  • Get The Caller’s Permission First. Never put a customer on hold unless she agrees to it. Asks the caller if it is alright with her — never just assume it’s okay. Example: “X Corporation, Alice speaking … would you mind holding for a minute, please?”
  • Deal With The Squeaky Wheel. If a customer does not want to be put on hold, go ahead and help her with what she needs. If she is upset about something, you need to address her concerns right away.
  • Check Back With Holders Often. Check on each customer every one or two minutes. This practice shows that you are concerned about her and helps you gauge if the person is getting upset at the wait. Tip: Try to read the tone of the customer on hold. If she sounds aggravated when you check back on her, deal with her immediately, even if she says she does not mind waiting. Some people may be annoyed at the wait, but too polite or timid to mention it when you ask about it.
  • Two At A Time May Be Enough. While you should strive to help as many customers as possible, don’t overextend yourself. If you have more than two people on hold at a time, you might get the customers, and their needs, confused.
  • Respond To Voice Mails Promptly. After the phone activity subsides, retrieve (and respond to) all the messages that went to voicemail. If you don’t bother to respond, your organization’s reputation will suffer in the eyes of the caller.
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Sep 18

CUSTOMER SERVICE CORNER: Prioritize tasks with the two-minute rule

two-minute-ruleYour to-do list doesn’t have to dominate your day. Each time a new task pops up, you can quickly prioritize it simply by estimating how long the task will take.

“There’s nothing so satisfying as watching a stack of work decrease as quickly as you handle it,” says business coach Wayne Pepper. Here’s his three-step method for whipping through your day’s duties:

Step 1: Time The Task

As new duties arise, ask yourself if it can be finished in two minutes. If the answer is “No,” set that duty aside. However, if you can complete the task in two minutes or less, go ahead and complete it.

Benefit:Your to-do list will quickly dwindle as you cross off the items that can be finished in a short time period. Seeing your list shorten will provide a productivity boost that keeps your mind focused on getting more done.

Step 2:Weed Out Wasteful Efforts

By evaluating the duties on your to-do list, you give yourself the chance to eliminate tasks that won’t make you or your customers more productive.

Next step:Make a pile for tasks that aren’t crucial but that need to be done, such as setting up a new organizational method for your files or researching a new technology that you won’t be able to purchase for a few months. This helps you make the most of your time and focus on what you need to accomplish.

Step 3:Prioritize Your Projects

Now that you’ve finished your two-minute tasks and eliminated the irrelevant items on your list, you can prioritize your short-term and long-term projects.

Try it this way: Note the potential cash value of each project and the resources you’ll need to complete it. Then list how each item will benefit your customers and your company.

Now that you can measure the financial importance of each item, determine which ones you’ll focus on first and which can wait.

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Aug 07

CUSTOMER SERVICE CORNER: 5 strategies to get the most from training sessions

training-classHow many times have you gone to a training session or inservice, came away energized from what you learned — but ultimately didn’t change your behavior as much as you hoped? It has happened to all of us. But you can maximize the results — and improve as a customer service professional — if you take advantage of these five tricks:


  1. Read handouts before the training session. You’ll get more from the session if you’re not distracted by reading while the instructor is talking.
  2. Focus on takeaways. Don’t try to take notes on everything the instructor says. Instead, zero in on information that has an immediate practical value for you.
  3. Keep your notes concise. Don’t get bogged down in the details –you could find yourself missing key points while you’re still scrambling to write. Instead, use outlines and key words to keep you on track — you can always flesh out your notes later.
  4. Review your notes right after the class. What you learned will stay with you longer if you review your notes while the training session is fresh in your mind. Best bet: Rewrite your notes so you’ll be able to make sense of them weeks or even months later.
  5. Use what you learn right away. This is the most important tip of all — make a list of action items and tape it to your monitor so you’ll remember them throughout the day. Once you’ve started doing them regularly, what you’ve learned will become second nature. For additional confidence, check out these tips from the United Cerebral Palsy Web site at
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