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CMI Blog

Don’t Make These Top Customer Service Complaints:

Posted on: July 18th, 2014 by admin

You may have the best product or offer the best service, but if your customer service isn’t delivering, your customers won’t care. Customers look for the best overall experience, and will pay additional to do business with a company that is friendly, helpful and easy to work with.
Below are some of the top customer complaints to keep in mind as you build your customer service department:

  • Automated messages: Nothing replaces talking to a real person who can respond in real-time. A lot of companies have automated messages to filter the calls to the correct department or associated, but this can be a big frustration to customers. Having to listen to a menu of options is time consuming, and sometimes there isn’t an option available for what the customer called in for.
  • Long hold times/multiple transfers: While being on hold isn’t desirable, most people understand a certain length of hold time. But keep your customers waiting too long, and they will be frustrated before you even start to assist them. Additionally, transferring the customer to multiple different employees can be as equally frustrating. Make your customer repeat their problem multiple times to multiple people, and you have a recipe for disaster.
  • Unknowledgeable employees: When customers call in for help, they are seeking help from the “experts.” Don’t put a new employee on the customer service team on their first week. Make sure your employees are educated and know how to help or where to get help, otherwise you are wasting your customers time, and losing business.
  • Rudeness: Want to lose business fast? Be rude to your customers. Nothing is more of a turn off for customers than having a rude interaction with a business owner or employees. A small customer complaint can blow up into a major issue with little more than a bad attitude.

Communication: The Key to Good Customer Service

Posted on: May 21st, 2014 by admin

Customers love to buy, but they don’t like to be sold to. So, how do you sell without over-selling? Improve your communication.

Below are some communication tips to keep in mind:

Open up a dialogue with your customers: Don’t just talk to your customers; make sure you LISTEN to them. Tune in on complaints, suggestions, and even comments and interactions on social media. There are so many avenues for listening to your customers, and there is no excuse for not using them.

Don’t make assumptions: Assuming you know what a customer or employee is going to say, and interrupting them with a response is poor customer service, and is a sign of bad listening skills. Doing so can create frustration, and take longer for the customer’s need to be communicated and solved.

Even if you think you know what is being asked because you’ve heard the same story from a hundred other customers, wait it out and listen to everything. This situation may be different, and require a different response. Not making assumptions will help you stay present in the moment, and eliminate opportunities for misunderstandings.

Encourage curiosity: Cultivate a culture where customers and employees alike feel encouraged to ask questions. Encourage questions, and make it known that there is no such thing as a stupid question. The more questions asked the fewer assumptions that will be made both on the part of customers and employees.

Be attentive: Take the time to actively listen to customers. Ask yourself if you are fully engaged in the conversation or if you are trying to multitask. Stop whatever you are working on, and look your customer in the eyes. You can’t help your customers adequately if you are not focused on helping them.

Royalyn Reid of the CMI Team Honored at WBENC Summit and Salute

Posted on: April 17th, 2014 by admin

The 2014 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Summit and Salute in New Orleans was three day event featuring a variety of workshops, networking receptions, committee meetings, panel discussions.

At the conclusion of the event, Royalyn Reid of the CMI Team was honored along with thirteen other exemplary women with the nation’s premier award for excellence among Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) bestowed by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

Below are some highlight moments of the awards gala dinner:

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Legacy pic at reception before the award dinner: Royalyn’s daughter Madisen, Royalyn, Royalyn’s mom (Billye Rayes)

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Selfie taken by Roaylyn’s daughter (Madisen) and Roaylyn with Nettie (Debbie’s daughter) and Debbie Hurst, President of the Women’s Business Council Southwest (WBCS).

Royalyn is the National Honoree representing the WBCS Region.

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Debbie Hurst, president of Women’s Business Council Southwest(WBCS) and Pam Eason, President of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

Debbie receives Royalyn’s award from Pam to present to her.

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Benita Fortner, WBENC Chairman of the Board and Director of Supplier Diversity at Raytheon; Debbie Hurst, president of Women’s Business Council Southwest(WBCS); Royalyn and Pam Eason (WBENC President)

Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Picture of the 14 WBE Stars and their Regional Presidents (Debbie behind Royalyn), Benita Fortner, WBENC Chairman of the Board and Director of Supplier Diversity at Raytheon, and Pam Eason (WBENC President)

 

 

Photos by Kathy Anderson Photography © Kathy Anderson

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

Posted on: April 3rd, 2014 by admin

This year’s Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) was held in New Orleans from March 18-20. Royalyn Reid of The CMI Team, was honored at the awards gala during the last evening of the three day event with the nation’s premier award for excellence among Women’s Business Enterprises.
Check out the following blogs and news articles:

WBE USA Magazine Article: Click here to read the full magazine and see the other thirteen WBE Stars.

WBENC_blog1

WBENC Star Congrats: Click here to see all of the 2014 WBE Stars.

WBENC_blog2

 

Women’s Business Council Southwest Blog: Click here to read more about the Summit and Salute, and Royalyn’s award.

Great Customer Experiences Are Stress Free

Posted on: March 26th, 2014 by admin

Great customer experiences are stress free, but creating that stress free environment can be tricky. Below are some tips to cultivate a stress free environment for both employees and customers alike:

  • Focus on employee training: When employees are properly trained, they do their job well and efficiently. Knowing the protocols, how to work all necessary technology, what superiors to get involved and when, and what to do in each situation gives the employees the confidence to do their job, and the customers confidence in the employees. Customers want to deal with experts, and when employees act like experts, the stress levels of all involved parties is minimized.
  • Emphasize positive attitudes: Positivity feeds off of positivity. If employees are upbeat, enjoy their job, and are happy to be there, customers can tell. A smile and kind gesture can go a long way, and can make an average buying experience, a pleasant one.
  • Empower your employees: It’s called situational power. If employees are given the flexibility to go the extra mile for the customer without having to check with management, customers will be satisfied faster. Whether that is being able to honor a coupon, add any additional discounts, or provide an extra service, if employees are given the power to make decisions on their own, all parties benefit.
  • Encourage the use of an apology: Even if the customer is at fault, a meaningful apology can diffuse a tense customer quickly. Instead of trying to play the blame game, encourage your employees to apologize quickly, and move on to solving the problem.
  • Offer compensation for mistakes made: For customers that disgruntled customers that feel cheated for mistakes made, offer some compensation for their time and inconvenience. If you use this opportunity to not only fix the issue, but to go above and beyond what is expected, you can turn a bad customer service experience into a positive one.

Do Happy Employees Mean Happy Customers?

Posted on: March 19th, 2014 by admin

According to the American Customer Service Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the following large corporations ranked in the top ten worst customer service providers.

 

10. Winn-Dixie

9. Supervalu Inc.

8. Gap, Inc.

7. Best Buy Co., Inc.

6. Safeway Inc.

5. Macy’s, Inc.

4. Walgreens Company

3. CVS Caremark Corporation

2. Rite Aid Corporation

1. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

 

When taking a closer look at each of the companies’ score, unhappy employees seems to be a common theme. Why is this and what can you do to avoid falling into the same trap? Below are some tips:

  • Pay your employees well: These large retail stores often times pay their employees low wages, and offer few or poor benefits. Paying your employees a little more can go a long way, and if you don’t have the means to pay more, make sure you make it up to your employees in some way by providing incentives or rewards to work towards.
  • Value your employees: If you want your employees to show respect and kindness to your customers, they must see that attitude from you, the boss, or from their direct management. A customer service friendly culture starts with the infrastructure of the company. If your employees feel valued, that feeling will trickle down to your customers.
  • Prepare your employees: If employees are not adequately prepared, they will be nervous and make mistakes when dealing with customers, and this can lead to frustration for both the employees and the customers they are serving. If employees know how to act and handle each situation, their overall performance will be better, and customers will notice.
  • Give your employees the benefit of the doubt: There will always be disgruntled customers, and sometimes “the customer is always right” mind frame can take a toll on your employees. Even if you expect your employees to follow this rule, as the employer, you need to instill trust in your employees. If your employees have confidence that they will not be fired at the first sign of customer dissatisfaction, they will be more capable of solving customer problems.

Customer Service Olympics

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by admin

Unlike the Olympics that only come around every four years, the customer service Olympics occurs every day, and businesses have more opportunity to capture the gold. While watching the winter Olympics this year, there are several key learning objectives that can be applied to our businesses.

  • Team work: Even in the sporting events that are individual athlete competitions, there is a team behind each athlete. Whether that is a team of coaches, family, friends or sponsors, the Olympian competing did not get to the Olympics by themselves. Likewise, one person can’t be solely responsible for a company’s customer service. It takes teamwork, a common goal, and the dedication of all team members.
  • Practice: Practice makes perfect is a true phrase that applies to both athletes and business alike. An Olympian spends hours, days, weeks, and years preparing for competition, and businesses can follow suit. Things like employee training in both people skills and technical skills can help tailor the company’s overall culture, and ensure that the customer experience is at its best.
  • Goals: An Olympian’s dream of competing on the world stage was not a mere coincidence; it was a long term goal that they visualized for quite some time. Likewise, good customer service does not just happen by accident; it is the result of articulate planning and goal setting. Companies that can visualize and anticipate the needs of their customers, and plan accordingly to meet those needs, are one step closer to achieving the customer service gold!
  • Competition: Athletes practice and practice in order to perform well in competition. Through their training, they know what their strengths are, and they know how to take advantage of them. Their performance will be a reflection of their preparation. Similarly, a business that practices and trains for customer service success should perform well. Know what sets your business apart, and use it to your advantage.

When an athlete stands on the podium to receive their medal, they are reaping the rewards of their hard work and dedication. What are you doing to win the race? Are you putting forth the effort worthy of a customer service gold medal?

What Couples Who Have Been Married Forever (20 Years or More!) Can Do For Valentine’s Day

Posted on: February 12th, 2014 by admin

Give your spouse something that takes time, energy, and some thought to carry out. Anything you give with an open and giving heart to someone who also has an open and giving heart will make a great Valentine’s Day gift. 

Does Valentine’s Day have to be Expensive?

  • Valentine’s Day does not have to be expensive. One survey showed that men wanted to spend more on the day (average, $84.39) in comparison to women, who planned to spend around $48.13 on average.
  • Surveys indicate that some of the most successful Valentine’s day gifts often involve very little cash.
  • Good news is that gifts can be fun, romantic, or sexy and not cost a lot of money!

What Suggestions do you have for Couples who have been Married Forever?

  • Research was conducted by a family marriage group that asked its readers to share some of their favorite Valentine’s Day ideas. Readers came up with some creative, practical ideas we grouped into 3 categories: Adventurous, Practical & Sentimental, and Romantic:
  • Adventurous Valentine’s Day Gifts:
  • Kiss Surprise: Write down every kind of kiss that you can think of (passionate, on the cheek, etc.). Fill an inexpensive red felt bag and let your sweetheart whatever kind of kiss he draws from the bag.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Take your sweetheart on a scavenger hunt. Ask him/her to answer riddles to find the clues to items you have placed somewhere in the house (or around town). The last instruction leads to special activity.

Practical & Sentimental Valentine’s Day Gifts:

  • Do your spouse’s chores for the day: Nothing says I love you like not having to do the chores for the day. Any chore that they have not been able to get done but you know it has been nagging them for a while. Then blindfold them and show them your Valentine’s Day surprise.
  • Fix or repairs something broke: Sew the hole in their favorite sweater; replace the missing keys on your Valentine’s laptop. Look around and find out what needs work and get it done. If you can’t fix it, find someone who can.
  • Make a special “14 Reasons I Love You Valentine’s Day breakfast for your sweetheart. Leave on his/her plate a letter or caring listing 14 reason you love your spouse.

Romantic Valentine’s Day Gifts:

  • Surprise Special Getaway: Surprise your spouse with a special getaway. The man who suggested this made reservations at a bed and breakfast, arranged for childcare, asked time off from work for himself and his wife, and packed his and her bags. He asked his wife to go to lunch and they left for the weekend.
  • Give your wife a dozen roses. On each stem attach a note for a future date—to do something that she would enjoy (i.e. go to the symphony).
  • Take your husband to a nice place for lunch with an added surprise. Wear a nice outfit. Tell your husband about your undergarments (something sexy underneath) for when he gets home. Give him some great kisses telling him how glad you are to be married to him and tell him you will be waiting for him when he gets home.

valentines

Click to watch the full interview! 

How to Be A Good Customer:

Posted on: February 7th, 2014 by admin

As consumers, we are always searching for the optimal customer service experience, but there is such a thing as being a good customer. Below are a few things we can do to make sure we receive the best service possible:

  • Watch your words:
    This applies if you are in person at a check-out counter or even if you are on the phone. Think about what you are saying to people, even when you are upset. Your attitude can set the tone of the customer service interaction. You can’t control what others do or say, but you can control yourself, and if you give respect, you are more likely to receive it.
  • Remember that you are dealing with another human being:
    The customer service representatives are people just like you. They are working trying to make a living, and more often than not, your complaint or issue did not stem from their personal mistake. They are trying to accommodate you, and make up for someone else’s mistake. Don’t kill the messenger, make both of your lives easier, and keep your cool.
  • Use social media:
    We’ve all seen the poor customer service stories that have gone viral, and so have companies. More and more companies are paying attention to what others are saying about them on their social media sites, and response times are pretty quick via Facebook and Twitter. Don’t take it to the extreme and go on a rant, but seeking help through the social channels can be a quick way of getting customer service help.
  • Take Time to Follow Up.
    Even after a dissatisfying situation has been fixed, the business owner should still follow up to ensure there’s no residual anger or upset on the customer’s part. A phone call, email, or comment via social media is appropriate, depending on whether the original situation took place in person or online.
  • Seek out a supervisor
    If you see that the representative working with you is not able to meet your needs, answer your questions, or is not willing to help, seek out someone who can, usually a supervisor. All too often this request can make for awkward conversation, and it can even be done in an offensive and condescending manner, but it doesn’t have to be. Request to speak to a supervisor, but do so with kindness and respect. Saying something as simple as, “I appreciate what you are doing, and all of the help you’ve provided, but is there someone else who I can speak with who will be better able to answer my questions,” can set an entirely different tone than, “You are no help, I need to speak with your supervisor.”

 

2014 Customer Service Resolutions

Posted on: January 16th, 2014 by admin

January is the time for resolutions, both of a personal and professional nature, and you as a business owner need to capitalize on this season of resolutions for the benefit of your company. No matter how great of a year you had in 2013, there are ways you can serve your customers even better in 2014!

We’ve put together a list commitments you and your employees can implement to achieve better customer care in the New Year:187567568

  • Be friendly: You would think this tip is a no brainer, and comes naturally in a company culture, but it is not as common as you would expect. The simple gesture of being nice to people makes them more receptive to interactions, and makes service transactions effective and easier all around.
  • Provide availability and respond in a timely manner: Access and response time are among the most crucial elements in a customer satisfaction. So whether it is providing support over the phone quickly and easily, or replying to an email promptly, make sure your customers get swift, detailed and helpful responses.
  • Give your customers the benefit of the doubt: Think, “The customer is always right. The customer is always right. The customer is always right.” All too often companies will rely on policies and self-protection scripts when they find themselves in “gray area” situations. Your customers will be more receptive, and will want to continue doing business with you if they feel like they are trusted and valued.
  • Keep your cool: Arguing or displaying defensiveness to customers is never a good practice. There will always be angry and unreasonable customers, but not many of them are out to get you or the company. Emotion usually triggers more emotion, so don’t feed fuel to the fire. Control the conversation tone, be professional, and strive to serve the customer.
  • Listen to your customers: As in all areas of life, listening is the key to providing quality customer service. Make sure you listen with a purpose, and respond with what they actually need. Listening will lead to understanding what your customers really want and need, and you will be more likely to serve them better.

All of the New Year celebrations are over, and the ball dropped to signal the end of 2013. Take the time and effort to see your customer service resolutions to fruition, and make sure you don’t drop the ball in 2014.