SkillSharpener Web Extras
Each month, SkillSharpener gives team leaders, supervisors, and managers the senior level insights and training materials they need to help their frontline staff get the most value from The Customer Communicator newsletter.
We often have additional material that we just cant fit in the newsletter. These resources are presented below.
Old-fashioned service skills are still important in todays high-tech world. Use these resources to get back to basics.
- A blog post by J.N. Whiddon on communications in the age of technology.
- Handout: An article from the Customer Service Group archives on building rapport on the phone.
What are you doing to help your reps improve their written communication skills? — In todays service world, written communication skills can be just as — or more — important than oral communication skills. Here are resources you can use to help your reps boost those skills.
- Handout: An article from the Customer Service Group archives that looks at business-writing blunders that reps should avoid.
- Advice for managers from Marsha Collier, author of The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide, on how to manage reps online communications with customers.
Make sure your reps are practicing positive vocal skills — A customer service reps voice can provide a clear message to customers about how willing they are to help. Here are some resources managers can use to make sure that message is a positive one:
- Handout: Additional advice from Renée Evenson on choosing the right words for every occasion.
- An article from the Customer Service Group archives on how to screen new hires for vocal skills.
Make sure reps dont make things worse when delivering bad news to customers — The wrong words, the wrong attitude, too much information, and too little information can all contribute to making a difficult situation worse. These resources can help.
- Evan Horowitzs advice on hiring the right people for the job.
- I have some good news and some bad news. — Researchers look at which news reps should deliver first.
Will your staff be ready and equipped to deal with 2017s emerging trends? — 2017 will be full of changes. Here are additional suggestions from this months contributors on how to make sure that your staff is prepared.
- Barbara Burke on the skills managers should be looking for in new reps.
- Suggestions from John Goodman on why its important to keep agents engaged in their work in 2017.
- A blog post from Chip Bell on making learning easier for reps.
Managers can help to combat stress in the workplace — Job and workplace stress is a major obstacle to productivity. But you can help keep it under control with these resources.
- An exercise from Genella Macintyres book, Five Steps to Reducing Stress. Share it with your staff.
- An article from the Customer Service Group archives. Share it with your staff.
Are your reps providing positively outrageous service? — For more ideas on providing positively outrageous service and building a personal brand, check out the following resources:
- An article describing T. Scott Grosss personal experience in providing outrageous service.
- An article from the Customer Service Group archives in which Gross advises reps on how to build their personal brands.
How successful are your reps at managing their time? — Here are some additional resources for time management:
- An excerpt from Jackie Gaines’s book, Wait a Hot Minute!.
- An article from the Customer Service Group archives on how reps can manage time by improving their listening skills.
Reinforce reps’ efforts to use positive language with customers — The following resources will help your reps keep things positive with customers.
- A blog post by JoAnna Brandi on The Problem with No Problem.
- An article from the Customer Service Group archives with further advice from JoAnna Brandi on thinking — and acting — positively.
Help your reps deal effectively with workplace change — The following resources will help your staff through periods of change:
- A Barbara Burke blog post on dealing with toxic talk.
- An article featuring Barbara Burke’s advice on how to deal with workplace change. Share it with your staff.
Ongoing training and reinforcement keep listening skills sharp — Use the following resources to help reps hone their listening skills.
- A table of phrases that reps can use when paraphrasing.
- An article from the Customer Service Group archives that provides an active listening self-test.
Making teamwork work in the service center — For additional ideas and insights on improving teamwork in the service center, read and share these articles:
- Mario Moussa discusses the STAR model for team building in this Wharton@Work article.
- Renee Evenson talks to frontline reps about contributing to the success of the team. Share it with your staff.
A car-makers hard-won lessons apply to all service professionals — Joseph A. Michelli, author of Driven to Delight, reports on Mercedes-Benz USAs efforts to improve its customer experience and what customer service reps in general can learn from that experience. Michelli offers additional advice in the links below:
- In this blog post Michelli suggests how managers can leave a leadership legacy in their organizations.
- Michelli has also worked with and reported on the Starbucks service mission in his book Leading the Starbucks Way. Heres a summary article from the Customer Service Group archives.
Help reps to make a more positive impression with customers — A group of well-known customer service experts bring their expertise to bear in this issue of The Customer Communicator to answer the question, What can reps do to make a more positive impression on customers? The links below offer additional help from some of those experts.
- Read Jeff Toister’s blog post on the 2015 National Rage Study that looks at what customers don’t like about the customer experience.
- Share an article from the Customer Service Group archives. It will help your staff keep a positive attitude.
Help your reps to lean in to criticism — In this months issue of The Customer Communicator newsletter, Richard S. Gallagher, author of The Customer Service Survival Kit, offers reps a strategy for leaning in to criticism as a way to gain agreement. The links below offer additional tools:
- In this video, Dr. Gallagher discusses techniques for dealing with difficult customers.
- In this article from the Customer Service Group archives, Gallagher gives managers advice on preparing reps for worst-case scenarios.
Dont subject your reps to a toxic work environment — Paul White, coauthor of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, describes the dangers of a toxic workplace and suggests ways that reps can cope in this months issue of The Customer Communicator. The links below offer additional tools for dealing with a toxic workplace.
- See Dr. Paul Whites blog post, 5 Ways to Tell If Your Workplace Is Toxic.
- An article from our archives that can help your reps avoid toxic talk.
Teach your reps the importance of asking customers the right questions — The January issue of The Customer Communicator provides advice from writer and speaker Shep Hyken on building rapport and solving problems by asking the right questions. The links below offer even more for managers to work with:
- A C-Suite TV video of Shep Hyken discussing his most recent book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time.
- An archive article on making a habit of asking questions.
Create an environment that encourages reps to reach out to others — This month The Customer Communicator offers advice from Tony Fielek, author of The Success Process Handbook, on how reps can build relationships with others in the workplace. The links below suggest how managers can help to create that kind of relationship-building environment.
- An excerpt from Tony Fieleks book, The Success Process Handbook, on how to develop a more personal touch in the workplace.
- An article from the Customer Service Group archives on setting up a mentorship program.
Will your reps be ready to adapt to evolutionary changes in customer service? — The November issue of The Customer Communicator offers advice from John Goodman, author of Customer Experience 3.0 on some of the skills reps will need in the customer service center of the near future. The links below provide some additional insight.
- An article by Goodman on redirecting your quality assurance program toward whats really causing customer dissatisfaction.
- Links to several customer service educational videos.
Keep your reps from falling into bad service habits — The October issue of The Customer Communicator offers advice from Jeff Toister, author of Service Failure, on how reps can avoid falling into bad service habits. The links below offer additional information and advice:
- A webinar with Jeff Toister.
- A Customer Service Group archive article on setting up a quiet room for your customer service agents.
Help reps develop the skills they need to provide exceptional service — In the September issue of The Customer Communicator, Flavio Martins, author of Win the Customer, offers advice on how reps can create a more positive customer experience. The links below offer further advice on winning customers.
- Read an excerpt from Flavio Martins book, Win the Customer: 70 Simple Steps for Sensational Service.
- Get more advice with this article from the Customer Service Group archives on helping reps build trust with customers.
Help your customer service reps to develop frontline leadership skills by building a team culture — The August issue of The Customer Communicator offers Renée Evensons perspective on the importance of leadership skills for everyone on the service team. The links below offer additional advice on how to build a culture that nurtures leaders.
- Heres an article from our archives on how to turn your service unit into a well-functioning team.
- Check out this further advice from Evenson on how to help your reps to create a team mission statement.
Give your reps the range they need to become customer service heroes — The July issue of The Customer Communicator offers Adam Toporeks advice on how reps can be heroes to their customers. The links below provide additional suggestions for achieving and celebrating hero status.
- Take this link to our Customer Service Week website (this years theme is Everyday Heroes) for ideas on how to recognize the heroes on your service team.
- Read an excerpt from Adam Toporeks book Be Your Customers Hero. Youll find four sales techniques to share with your staff.
Dealing with the irate, cranky, or cantankerous customer — In the June issue of The Customer Communicator, author Mark Goulston offers an array of useful tips on handling difficult customers. The links below will connect you with additional advice from Goulston.
- An excerpt from Chapter One of Goulstons Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Just About Anyone.
- A YouTube video in which Goulston discusses an experience in which he learned a lot about dealing with difficult people.
Phone skills are still important for service reps — Nancy Friedman of Telephone Doctor Inc. thinks phone skills should remain at the top of reps’ basic training needs list. And here are some links to related skills that might help:
- Read a recent blog post by Friedman on communication basics.
- Get more advice with this bonus article featuring Friedmans insights on asking questions of customers.
Promote reps loyalty-building efforts — Customer service author and consultant Chip R. Bell wants companies to put more effort into connecting with customers. These links will help:
- Read an excerpt from Bells new book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service.
- And heres an article from our archives in which Bell offers suggestions on how reps can gather useful intelligence from customers.
Create a positive work environment — Author and motivator Jon Gordon believes its important for managers to promote a positive attitude at work. These resources will help.
- Print and use these No Complaining Zone posters from Gordons website.
- Check out this bonus article featuring Jon Gordon from the TCC archives.
How to avoid saying no — According to Richard Gallagher, positive experiences are the rule when reps can turn a no into a yes. Learn more.
- Read an excerpt from Gallaghers latest book The Customer Service Survival Kit.
- Learn how to set up an effective escalation process.
- Get more advice from Richard Gallagher. Share this bonus article with your staff.
Search for customers unspoken needs — Getting at customers unspoken needs is not always a matter of asking them directly, says Rick Delisi, co-author of The Effortless Experience. But using this metric can help.
Mentoring is more than a one-on-one relationship — Not quite sure if a formal mentoring program is right for your service team. Consider this advice from Beth Carvin.