Word Choice

Sophia explains why it is important to choose your words wisely when speaking to customers.

July 2, 2013 at 5:59 am Leave a comment

The Importance of Resetting

In this excerpt from a training session, Sophia discusses the concept of “resetting” and why it is an important habit for employees to adopt when interacting with customers.

June 30, 2013 at 11:25 pm Leave a comment

The New Rules of Customer Service: Top 10 Requirements for Providing Exceptional Customer Service

Taken from my book, “Customer Service New Rules“, these are the top 10 requirements that every business must practice in order to provide exceptional customer service to their customers. This is a MUST READ for everyone in business!

An exceptional business MUST:

1. Hire people who have the right attitude.

Hire the attitude and train the skill. Bottom line: Hire people who enjoy serving others.

2. Never let an untrained employee have contact with a customer.

An untrained employee can easily cause you to lose customers and money.

3. Make the customer’s time with your company an experience.

Each experience with the customer must be a positive customer experience (PCE).

4. Regularly inform all employees about what’s going on in the company.

It is very annoying and frustrating for your customers to ask an employee of your company a question and receive a response such as, “I don’t know.” It is your business to know.

5. Make every decision with the customer in mind.

Integrate the customer into your decision-making process. Always ask, “How will this decision affect my customer?”

6. Make customers an agenda item at every team meeting.

Your customers are the fundamental reason why you are having the meeting in the first place. Always remember that everything you do within the company is about the core: your customers.

7. Empower your employees to do the right thing.

Train your employees efficiently and thoroughly.

8. Install continuous improvement initiatives.

Include customer service as part of the company’s performance appraisal process. As part of this process, ask employees to include a goal for improving customer service. Do not forget to write a customer service goal for yourself.

9. Create and maintain an atmosphere of excellence.

Let it be known to everyone in the company that everything you and your employees do has to be the best, and that you will not accept less. Give attention to even the smallest details.

10. Continually surprise the customer and do the unexpected.

Many customers will not accept poor service. Instead, they simply will choose not to continue doing business with you. You can quickly increase your bottom line by training employees to do the unexpected by surprising customers in a positive way by doing something different than what is expected or that sets them apart from the status quo.

Sophia Brooks is the president and CEO of Global Learning Partners, Inc., an international training and consulting firm located in Southern California.  As an international master trainer and keynote speaker, she specializes in implementing customer service initiatives for businesses to increase their profits.

Visit my Web site, Global Learning Partners, Inc., for more information on how I can help your business!

March 15, 2012 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

To Increase Success, Tear Down Your Silos!

In my book, “Customer Service New Rules“, one of the things I discuss is the concept of Positive Customer Experience (PCE).  Often, the focus of PCE is on our external customers, but in my blog post I want to focus on an equally important customer – the internal customer.

Diane Weklar, president of The Weklar Consulting Group, is an expert in synchronizing marketing and business operations to accelerate company growth. In her article, “Synchronization is the Key to Success”, she says that both small and large business organizations and their operations are complex systems much like a living organism — capable of response to stimulus, reproduction, growth and development. An organism can be unicellular (a business of only you) or multi-cellular (a business containing many).

A complex system is composed of multiple parts, each acting individually according to its own circumstances and which, by so acting, changes the circumstances affecting all the other parts. Yet, most organizations today operate as though each segment of its operations were an independent organism, with its own goals, processes and results. This approach often causes many problems and even leads a company to failure.

In the business organism, internal customers are people you interact with on a regular basis. They come from other departments within the organization. They might be involved in human resources, payroll management, sales, research and development, engineering, etc. Whoever they are and whatever part of the organization they come from, your internal customer wants to be treated with respect, courtesy and kindness.  They want to be part of the team and considered for their contributions to the team.

An often overlooked, but major contributor to the challenges and even failures in business is something known as the “silo effect”.  The “silo effect” refers to a lack of communication and a lack of common goals between departments of an organization. Lack of communication creates a tendency for departments to exclude or diminish ideas, input and feedback from other departments. Silos frequently limit and stunt productivity in practically all organizations where they exist. Silos are often responsible for lapses in security and breaches in privacy. Silos frustrate consumers, who increasingly expect information to be immediately available to them, and complete.

Silos destroy trust. Without trust, you cannot have an environment that supports teamwork across an organization. And, if a team is unable to work efficiently, it will cause an organization to fall behind its competitors.  When there is little or unclear communication between groups, the “right hand” doesn’t know what the “left hand” is doing. Leaders easily fall out of touch with employee sentiment, lose track of important resources at their fingertips and do not receive crucial feedback. In an organization where people in different divisions have little contact with one another, it’s easy to become inwardly focused and complacent with the status quo.

Command-and-control oriented cultures breed silos. In these organizations, fear prevails. Managers focus on guarding turf rather than on engaging colleagues outside their group. Instead of reaching across the organization, people in command-and-control cultures primarily move information and decisions vertically within the silo.

Silos can arise in any organization, large or small, and are detrimental to organizational success. In order to be successful today, an organization should not function as though each segment of its operations is an independent organism. Instead, a successful organization will look at and consider the entire organization as a comprehensive whole.

We’re interested in hearing from you:  What have you done to prevent silos from forming in your organization? What practices does your organization put in place to help unify operations between departments? What would it mean to your organization to eliminate this problem?

Sophia Brooks is the president and CEO of Global Learning Partners, Inc., an international training and consulting firm located in Southern California.  As an international master trainer and keynote speaker, she specializes in implementing customer service initiatives for businesses to increase their profits.

Visit my Web site, Global Learning Partners, Inc., for more information on how I can help your business!

March 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm Leave a comment

5 Components of Communication That Can Affect the Profits of Your Business (Just One Missing Piece Could Jeopardize Your Business). — PART 2

In Part 1 of this blog and in my book, “Customer Service New Rules”, I explain the importance of communicating like an ambassador and being exceptional with your customer service. In Part 1 of this blog, I also explain how attitude and appearance are components of communication that can affect the success of your business.

In Part 2, I will discuss how posture, tone of voice and word choice are also components that affect your business.

POSTURE. A professional image creates a lasting impression on your customers, and big part contributor to that image comes from physical posture. Your customers will subconsciously draw a relationship between the posture you hold and how you feel about yourself. People with postures associated with positive emotions are more likely to invoke happy memories than those whose body language represents anger or sadness.

Improving your posture, such as holding your chin up and throwing your shoulders back, can actually help you feel better about yourself and elevate your internal mood. Employees can use this principle to adopt a positive stance during presentations or when engaged with customers.

Try it! Ask your employees to make a conscious decision on what kind of positive attitude they wish to hold toward a specific situation. As the employee adjusts their posture to fit their emotive stance, their mind will produce the feelings consistent with that which their posture implies. Everyone will quickly notice the impact.

TONE OF VOICE. Our inflection and the tone of voice that we use can communicate volumes to customers. We control our tone with the speed, direction, rhythm, pitch, smoothness, emphasis and tempo in which we choose to speak. From our tone of voice, customers can surmise if we are hurried, confident, angry, annoyed and much more. A key component to delivering exceptional customer service involves using a professional and sincere tone of voice. When customers hear your tone of voice on the other end of the line, they imagine the person behind the voice. If they like what they hear, chances are they will perceive you as knowledgeable and confident. If they don’t like your tone of voice, it makes them want to disconnect or speak to a supervisor. Your voice is a strong asset for helping customers to trust you.

WORD CHOICE. Another important component of communication is word choice. Customer service agents must remember a few guidelines about the words they choose to speak to customers.

One rule of exceptional customer service is that there are some things that must never be said to customers. When communicating with the customer, it is imperative to avoid saying, “I don’t know.” Customers want and expect you to know.

Another one of the biggest no-no’s is the word, no. Research has repeatedly shown that customers don’t want to hear the word, no, even when “no” is the accurate response. No customer wants to hear what they cannot have.

In addition to avoiding certain words, agents must always strive to state a positive before the negative when interacting with customers. Tell the customer in a positive way what you can do, not what you cannot do. I call this practice “reframing”. Dealing with customers in this manner will turn someone who is disappointed in your product or service into a cheerleader for your company. Of course, what you do is more important than what you say. But whether it’s good news, bad news, or simply passing on information, your choice of words will have a significant effect on the way the customer hears what you’re saying, and consequently the way they feel and react.

Lastly, when focusing on word choices, remember to keep it simple. Do not overwhelm the customer with too much information or confusing industry jargon, technical terms and acronyms.

Four Points to Remember:

  • Customer service is 80 percent attitude and 20 percent technique. It is very important to the success of a company that every single employee is focused on maintaining a positive attitude.
  • Never say “I don’t know” or “no” to a customer. If they ask you a question to which you do not know the answer, first say what you do know, such as, “I know that John will be able to answer that question for you. May I transfer your call to John?” You must always find a way around saying “no” right away in the conversation. If a customer asks for something that you cannot do, start by saying what you can do.
  • Asking effective questions improves the communication process. Empower your customer so that they ask for the help they need. Help them to help you believe in exceptional service.
  • Having a positive posture plays a role in effective communication. So long as you are positive and friendly, you will have customers who are loyal to you and your company.

Subscribe to this blog to automatically receive future updates. Or, pick up a copy of my book, “Customer Service New Rules,” for a more in-depth perspective on customer service

Visit my Web site, Global Learning Partners, Inc., for more information on how I can help your business!

February 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

5 Components of Communication That Can Affect the Profits of Your Business (Just One Missing Piece Could Jeopardize Your Business). — PART 1

The word, ambassador, generally means the highest-ranking diplomat who represents their country or government and serves as its official representative. So, how does this word relate to customer service?

Customer service agents today must view and consider themselves as an official messenger and representative for the business in which they are employed. In other words, today’s customer service agent must be an “ambassador” with a mission and a strong purpose. A customer service ambassador must be able to communicate effectively with a diverse population that includes both customers and prospects. This is a skill that requires training.

In my book, “Customer Service New Rules“, I explain how effective communication is a catalyst for exceptional customer service. Both communication over the phone and face to face can be very complex. Everything we do conveys something. Whenever contact is made with a customer, communication occurs. A person’s body language and tone of voice are factors that convey more meaning than the words that they use. 70 to 90 percent of communication that is received by the listener/customer is screened out or reinterpreted.

Attitude, appearance, posture, tone of voice, and word choice are all factors that make-up a model for communication. All of these factors can contribute to the customer either having a positive or negative experience with your customer service agent.

In Part 1 of this blog, I am elaborating on two of these factors:

1. ATTITUDE. Attitude is a key element of communicating with internal and external customers. Customer service consists of 80 percent attitude and 20 percent technique. Customers expect to interact with positive, upbeat people. At the end of the day, an employee’s attitude has the potential to either make a boring job fun or a fun job boring. We are in control of our attitude. Because we are in control of our attitude, we must continually practice creating a positive inner dialogue. This especially true if you sometimes find your service to others to be a challenge.

2. APPEARANCE. We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Although this may be true, people still draw conclusions from preconceived notions about each other. Like it or not, your appearance sends a message! Your appearance subconsciously impacts and affects how you feel, thus impacting how you interact with your internal and external customers — even over the phone! Your appearance and the message it sends is critically important and needs to be appropriate for your position within the organization.

Are you following the organization’s dress code? Customers see you as the company. It does not matter if you are the receptionist, field representative or the hospital operator — you are the organization. Dress professionally for the position you hold within the organization. It will infuse motivation into your day.

Subscribe to this blog to automatically receive future updates. Or, pick up a copy of my book, “Customer Service New Rules”, for a more in-depth perspective on customer service.

Visit my Web site, Global Learning Partners, Inc., for more information on how I can help your business!

February 2, 2012 at 5:18 am Leave a comment

Hello from Sophia Brooks, CEO of Global Learning Partners, Inc.

I am so pleased to share my company with you, Global Learning Partners, Inc. (GLP)!

Global Learning Partners, Inc. (GLP) is an international training firm, specializing in teaching companies how to deliver exceptional customer service. We use a unique blend of learning techniques to help you and your employees discover the many ways in which job performance can make an impact on your bottom-line. We grow the people who grow your business!

Organizations choose GLP as their training company, because we offer:

  • A unique blend of learning methods that teach how to provide the best customer experience
  • Subject matter experts
  • Over 10 years of experience working with world-class Fortune 500 companies
  • Affordable fees

Visit us at www.GLPInc.com to get more information about how we can help you!

January 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment


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Sophia’s Quotes

“The customer is not always right. However, there is always a right way to treat the customer.” -- Sophia Brooks

"The United States of America is ready for a service mutiny."
-- Sophia Brooks

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