Blessings Under the Western Sky (My keynote experience for Make-a-Wish Annual Conference)

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It’s been a beautifully busy month for me. I have delivered a combined 10 keynotes and training sessions this month for amazing clients and I still have 2 more keynotes next week.

I’m home for a few days. It’s Saturday morning and I just finished journaling while enjoying an Italian espresso. I’m feeling so grateful right now and I want to share some of my gratitude with you this morning.

When I arrived at the stunning Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale on Thursday, my client, Make-a-Wish of America, had this tray of treats sent up to me.

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This gift arrived at just the right time. I had been flying all day and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I was literally on the phone with room service when I heard the knock on the door. I told room service I’d call them back and I got the door.

My client gave me the perfect blend of healthy fruits, nuts, grains and cheeses. Plus, they sent up two chilled bottles of water. This is exactly the type of whole energy food I need before a big keynote. I devoured the tray. Seriously, I did.

Then I enjoyed a restful evening on my balcony watching the Phoenix sunset. It was breath-taking. I was at such peace. I felt the presence of God in a real way. I wanted to cry. I felt just that good.

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The next morning I slept nice and late. I arouse at 6:50am Phoenix time, which is almost 9am CT where I live. My keynote wasn’t until 9:40 so I had time in abundance.

I enjoyed nearly an hour of prayer in my bathrobe on the balcony. I was surrounded by mountains.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of the desert land. I felt so close to the sky, so close to God.

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As great as the experience was on my balcony, I had a keynote to deliver. I got dressed, put on my makeup and did my hair. To my delight, I was having a great hair day! My hair was big, textured and full. I knew it would be a great day.

And a great day it was!  My keynote was very well received. I got laughs, people were fully engaged. If felt good. The meeting planners and the executives all gave me outstanding feedback. I didn’t want to leave. But my driver was waiting to take me back to the airport.

I am blessed, so blessed. I am doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do: Run my own business and use the gifts God has given me. Thank you God for this life. Thank you clients, readers and friends who support me on this journey.

What I’m doing this morning

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Espresso for Writing

The drink: Ethiopian espresso. The scent: pumpkin spice candle. The music: Reggae. The scene: My home office. The task: Run-through for a keynote I’m delivering in Scottsdale.

I’m working from home while contractors install my new wood floor. (I’m pretty excited about my new floor.)

The tools and the men are too loud for me to hold conference calls. And I can’t leave to go out and meet with clients. So I’m using the time do a run-through for a keynote I’ll deliver in a couple of weeks.

I titled my keynote:

Dealing with Screamers, Schemers and Other Difficult People

Using the powerful martial art Aikido (合気道 aikidō) as a benchmark, I will give my audience strategies, tactics, and psychological insights for dealing with demanding, irate, and unreasonable customers.

My approach for this keynote is “serenity and maturity” versus “punches and power” as the most effective method for creating calm and reaching resolution.

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This is what my audience will walk away with:

  • The psychology of anger – Understand what is going on in the mind of your angry or scheming customer
  • How to strategically encourage calm with angry people using 5 principles from Aikido
  • You cannot ignore a person’s expression of anger – find out why you MUST assertively acknowledge a person’s anger
  • The critical importance of reflecting back the upset person’s intensity – and how to do it gracefully
  • Holding your own with difficult people: How to say what you mean and mean what you say— without being mean
  • Word-for-word (assertively powerful) phrases for what to say when a person is yelling or cursing at you

I can’t wait to deliver this keynote!

I’m going to go check in on the contractors. If your team could use help with dealing with difficult customers, you may want to check out my programs here.

 

The New Face of Debt Collection – Empathy, Kindness and Compassion

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Proud Businesswomen

The New Face of Debt Collection – Empathy, Kindness and Compassion

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from the collections division of a large financial company. The company wants to improve the quality of calls and improve the customer experience while still collecting debt.

That’s not an easy charge. Debt collectors are known to be threatening, aggressive, and intrusive, among other things.

So how will I help this company? I proposed we take a posture of empathy, kindness and compassion. Seriously, that is what I proposed for the company’s debt collectors.

I got the idea for a softer approach to debt collection from my husband. My husband used to work for a debt collector. In fact, he worked for one of the most successful debt collectors ever.

My husband’s former company, a consumer friendly company, bought delinquent debts from banks and then restructured them according to terms the customer could afford.

The strategy was successful. They were able to help 4.5 million consumers resolve $15 billion in debt, all of it without ever suing a consumer, producing net margins as high as 48%.

The company’s secret: Kindness, empathy and compassion.

I proposed to my prospect that I teach employees how to handle customers’ crisis with empathy. I told them that this empathy would bring in more money than any hard-hitting tactics ever could.

The company my husband worked for shut down. Long story.

But the owner, Bill Bartman, started another collections company, CFS II. (The original company was CFS). CFS II uses the same successful principles of kindness to collect. And it’s working big time.

Take a look at this video to get an inside view of how empathy, kindness and compassion work together to help consumers get back on track to pay their debts.

CFS II works off of the preface that people in debt don’t have money. What a novel idea!

They don’t hire debt collectors. They hire people with customer care experience.

Collectors aren’t rewarded based on how much money they collect. They are rewarded on the freebies they give away.

By freebies I mean help with consolidating debt. Resume writing. Pointing customers toward community resources. (This will make more sense when you watch the video.)

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How to Talk to Customers: Empathy, Tone and Making Personal Emotional Connections

The biggest problem with the customer experience in most companies is how employees talk to customers. All too often, employees come across as indifferent, cold, uncaring, rushed or rude. This employee “attitude problem” can be the tipping point that sends customers to the competition. This attitude problem is what drives customers to tweet and blog about a poor customer experience. The great news is, with the right training, monitoring and coaching, employees can learn how to soften tones, truly convey empathy, make customers feel taken care of and even make memorable personal emotional connections with customers.

In this extended training event, Myra shows your employees, step-by-step, how to talk to your customers. You’ve gotta read this outline!

View outline/download

AT&T’s Text Customer Satisfaction Survey Impressed Me

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Chat customer experience

So, I was sitting on my patio surfing the Internet on my iPad and I came across this news story:

AT&T doubles data on high-end plans, starting at 15GB tier

The doubled data is part of a limited promotion, but customers who sign up keep that data for as long as they’re on the plan.

 

I have ATT wireless and data service for both my business and my family. So, yes, this caught my interest.

My first thought was, why didn’t ATT personally notify me of this promotion? I have much to say on this, but I’ll save it for a future blog post.

My second thought was, I have to sign up for this now.

The promotion is real. All you have to do, if you are a current (or new) ATT wireless customer, is call ATT and request the upgrade. I literally doubled my family’s data plan and that makes my children very happy. I don’t have to pay a penny more and I didn’t have to sign a new contract. That makes me happy.

I signed up for the promotional plan yesterday and today I got a survey from ATT about my experience. I was impressed with the survey and I want to share it with you.

The survey came via text. That impressed me. That’s fast and it’s cutting edge.

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The initial text thanked me for calling and invited me to participate in a short 4-question survey. Four questions. Sure, I have time for that.

I responded to the first question and then boom. The second question arrived.

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Within seconds the survey was over. But ATT was smart. They gave me an opportunity to free form explain why I answered the way I did.

ATT Customer Satisfaction Survey Sample

Brilliant. This was their opportunity to get real feedback.

Text surveys are unique, fast and convenient. If a text survey is a good fit for your industry and product or service offering, consider reaching out to your customers via text.

Here are details on the ATT double data promo, just in case you’re an ATT customer.

DALLAS, Sept. 27, 2014 — Beginning Sunday, Sept. 28, AT&T is offering new promotional Mobile Share Value plans that include double the amount of data offered on Mobile Share Value plans with 15GB to 50 GB of data. New and existing customers who proactively sign-up by October 31* get 30GB of data for the price of 15GB** – perfect for families and small business customers.  AT&T customers will benefit from this offer, which includes domestic unlimited talk and text, as well as unlimited international messaging from the U.S. to select countries. – See more at: http://tinyurl.com/nwmyzxq

 

Myra Golden’s Slide Deck from ICAE in Newport Beach: Verbal Aikido as a Strategy for Handling the Consumer Vigilante (Extremely Difficult Customers)

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Verbal Aikido

I had such a fun Monday! I taught Aikido!

Well, I taught verbal Aikido.

On Monday, I had the privilege of being the opening keynote speaker at the Insurance Consumer Affairs Exchange Conference (ICAE) in Newport Beach, CA.

As you know, much of what I teach is focused on how to most effectively deal with difficult customers.

So, for ICAE I designed and delivered a keynote (and workshop) on how to deal with extremely difficult customers. I call these customers collectively The Consumer Vigilante.

In my keynote, I explained that today’s consumers are impatient, savvy and relentless. Some customers, the consumer vigilantes, will stop at nothing.

I walked my audience through the toll difficult customs are taking on employees and organizations:

  1. Extremely difficult customers are putting serious stress on employees. This stress is bringing down morale and inviting burnout.
  2. Difficult customers cost companies money! The time it takes to deal with unhappy and extremely difficult customers is taking time away from your best customers and resulting in a poor customer experience because staff can’t deliver the best service to the best customers.

I shared thoughts, stories, perspectives and research to inspire my audience to take a more focused approach toward handling difficult customers. And then I offered a powerful solution to handling difficult customers, the consumer vigilantes of the world:

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My keynote was very well received. We laughed, engaged and learned 5 principles from Aikido for dealing more effectively with extremely difficult customers.

For the benefit of my wonderful ICAE audience and as a treat for my blog readers, I am posting my slide deck from the presentation. I also have a link to the videos I talked about in my keynote.

Enjoy. Share. Learn. Download the slide deck right here.

“Put Yourself In Their Shoes” video http://youtu.be/cDDWvj_q-o8

 

This is such a powerful video that truly gets participants to feel for another person.

And here’s the Jack Nicholson clip I talked about near the end of my keynote:

I actually feature this clip in my full-day customer service workshops. It gets hilarious laughter for sure, but after the clip we discuss how the waitress could have handled this customer better.

Watch the video, paying careful attention to the waitress. Note your first impression as she approaches Jack’s table, her facial expression, attitude, etc. Next, flip the script. What might she have done differently to have the situation end MUCH differently?

Enjoy!

The lesson here, of course, is to be flexible and friendly. These two attributes will take you a long way with customers, even the most difficult of customers.

Need a Keynote Speaker to Talk to Your Organization About the Customer Experience? By all means, consider me!

Myra Golden runs Myra Golden Media, a customer experience design agency that specializes in helping brands create the best possible customer experience throughout all contact channels. Myra has designed customer experience platforms for such companies as Verizon Business, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, National Car Rental, Michelin Tires and Frito Lay. She has been named one of the Top 10 Customer Service Bloggersand she is co-author of Beyond WOW! The Service Leadership Approach to Exceptional Customer Service.

All of Myra’s presentations will be fiercely tailored to meet your objectives. Most of her presentations can be tailored for keynotes, breakout sessions, or interactive workshops. Myra requires at least one face-to-face or telephonic meeting before every presentation so she can customize her presentation with razor-sharp content and relevant examples. In some cases, a Myra Golden representative will also conduct a “Mystery Shopper” visit by phone or in person to survey your service practices and problem handling processes. A good speech requires an understanding of your business.

Explore my Customer Experience Speaking Topics

Special Webinar Teaches How to Handle Difficult Customers

How to Get Angry, Irate or Unreasonable Customers to Back Down

Imagine your next phone call is from an angry, irate customer and you’ve only got a few seconds to gain control.

Are you 100% confident you can handle it?

If not, I’ve got the perfect program for you.  Attend my special webinar entitled “Stop Screaming at Me” and you’ll be able to Handle Any Difficult Customer. Learn more about this special webinar.

National Customer Service Week (Oct 6-10) special 60-minute webinars for Contact Center Reps

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One of my favorite mugs

Pour up a cup of coffee and join us for a high impact webinar in honor of National Customer Service Week!

All events are 60 minutes and are specially priced at $199 each per company

(National customer Service -Week is October 6th – 10th)

October 7, 2014 1:00 – 2:00pm ET

Telephone Techniques + Call Control: Simple Skills to Help You Improve the Customer Experience

The telephone is one of the best branding devices out there. Over the telephone you get 3-5 minutes of your customer’s undivided attention. If you get the interaction right, you can create a memorable experience, generate positive word-of-mouth advertising, and build customer loyalty, which leads to increased profits. This training introduces (or reinforces) basic, yet fundamentally important telephone skills and presents a solid call strategy. Additionally, attendees will learn 9 powerful, but polite call control strategies so that they can easily get whiners, ramblers and storytellers to cut to the chase.

View outline/Register

Wednesday, October 8th, 1:00 – 2:00pm ET

How to Talk to Customers: Empathy, Tone and Making Personal Emotional Connections

The biggest problem with the customer experience in most companies is how employees talk to customers. All too often, employees come across as indifferent, cold, uncaring, rushed or rude. This employee “attitude problem” can be the tipping point that sends customers to the competition. This attitude problem is what drives customers to tweet and blog about a poor customer experience. The great news is, with the right training, monitoring and coaching, employees can learn how to soften tones, truly convey empathy, make customers feel taken care of and even make memorable personal emotional connections with customers.

In this extended training event, Myra shows your employees, step-by-step, how to talk to your customers. You’ve gotta read this outline!

View outline/Register

Thursday, October 9th, 1:00 – 2:00pm ET

Stop Screaming at Me!
You don’t have to get frustrated dealing with demanding, irate, or unreasonable customers and you don’t have to put up with verbal abuse and threats from customers.

If you have the right tactics and techniques and the motivation, you can get any angry customer to back down and ultimately regain the customer’s goodwill. I want to get you started down the fast track to total confidence and skill in dealing with frustrating customers. See what this web training is all about.

View outline/Register

“I just viewed the replay of the webinar you did not long ago with citrix online and I was so enlighten and amazed to hear such outstanding information. I am a marketer and I knew surface level some of the information you shared but you went deep and took it to another level of understanding for me, the light bulbs of ideas and solutions have been bombarding my mind ever since. I simply desired to say thank you.”

James Stuart

 

The suit does not make the woman

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I had a Mastermind meeting with a very successful entrepreneur who also has a growing professional speaking business. We met to trade ideas with the goal of making each other more successful.

One of the tips this successful businesswoman shared with me stunned me. She said, “I never speak in a suit that costs less than $3,000. As speakers we have to look the part.”

Wow. I don’t own a $3,000 suit.

She went on. “My makeup artist has carefully trained me to apply my makeup almost as good as she does. We have to look the part.”

Unless you count the free makeovers I’ve gotten at Mac, I’ve never had a makeup artist. Well, my 14 year old daughter gives me makeup tips.

Immediately I felt small. So regular.

Yes, I believe I need to look good on the stage. But do I really need to drop $3,000 on my suits and work with a makeup artist?

According to this businesswoman, yes, I do. She told me that when she’s preparing to speak at an event, she calls up Sak’s Fifth Avenue and tells them to bring 5 suits to her office. She’ll then choose a suit. Or two.

I don’t have it like that. Not even close.

So, I left feeling small. So small, that a few weeks later I went to Sak’s and looked at suits so that I could “look the part.”

I found 3 suits that I loved. One of them looked like a suit Oprah would wear. I totaled up the price of the three amazing suits: $13,600. (Of course this includes shoes, accessories and matching handbags. Of course.)

I didn’t buy even one. Suits like this are not in my wardrobe budget. I don’t even know why I went to Sak’s looking for suits. Oh, wait. I went because I was feeling small, like I needed to step my suit game up.

I thanked my lovely sales lady and left. On the drive home I was still feeling small.

But then I recalled that my fellow businesswoman is not like me. She is a millionaire. A literal millionaire. She can afford to look like a million bucks. Her clients may expect her to look like a million bucks. Maybe.

Do my clients pay me to look like a million bucks or do they pay me to deliver value?

My clients pay me to deliver a message and they expect me to deliver that message in an engaging, energetic and entertaining way. I put a lot of energy into designing and rehearsing my keynotes so that I captivate every member of my audience and exceed my client’s expectations.

And I deliver that value while still looking nice in my Talbot’s suits and Dillard’s shoes. I do my own makeup too. Unless my daughter is on the road with me. In that case, she does my eye makeup.

I don’t know that I walked out of the mastermind meeting with ideas to help me be more successful. Or maybe I did. I learned that the suit does not make the woman. Not this woman.

Some nice things clients have said about this woman who wears suits that cost less than $3,000. :-)

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Myra Golden Reviews

This is hands-down my favorite strategy for controlling calls with long-winded customers

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As you might know, one of the things I teach is how to control calls with customers. Specifically, how to deliver a warm customer experience while politely getting the long-winded customer to cut to the chase.

Lately, every single time I’m in a content design meeting with a new client, someone will say, “Help us control calls!”

It just so happens I was on a call this morning with a chatty-Cathy. She was such a dear and I truly enjoyed talking with her. But I had another conference call scheduled to start in 7 minutes.

I teach call control. Now I needed to control a phone call. I saw this situation as a mini-test, if you will. A test to help me keep my skills fresh.

So I used my favorite call control strategy: Ask 3 closed-ended questions back-to-back.

Here’s some insight on why this method works and what it is exactly.

CallControl

When customers are long-winded, rambling or story telling, they are likely stuck in the right side of the brain. The right side of the brain tends to use more of our creative, fantasy and philosophical sides, whereas the left side of the brain focuses more on facts, numbers and analytical thinking.

As long as the customer is communicating from the right side of the brain, it will be difficult for you to control the call. You need to effectively shift your customer from the right side of the brain to the left side of the brain.

An easy and very effective way to help your customer make this shift is for you to ask your customer 3 closed-ended questions back to back.

Closed-ended questions are questions that can be answered in one word: “What is the date code on your bag of chips?” is a closed-ended question. “How would you like to handle this?” is an open-ended question.

Closed ended questions work because customers are limited to one word (or perhaps a series of numbers.) Asking closed ended questions will give you some immediate control over the phone call, but to maintain that control, you must ask closed-ended questions that require your customer to go to the left brain to retrieve the answer.

That is, you need to ask questions that require your customer to use analytical thinking, to recall, or to lookup something.

Here’s an example.

When I worked in the car rental industry, I had my staff launch three strategic closed-ended questions the moment they felt they were dealing with a long-winded caller. These are the questions my employees asked.

  1. What is your rental agreement number?
  2. Can you read me the location code located in the top right-hand corner of your agreement?
  3. Can you give me the exact dates of rental?

These questions never failed to get the long-winded caller to stop talking. They never failed because the questions are all closed-ended, relevant to helping the customer, and they all require the customer to use the left-brain to retrieve the answers.

  • Closed-ended questions can be answered in one word
  • Closed-ended questions put you in control
  • Closed-ended questions move the customer from the right bran to the left brain
  • Closed-ended questions keep your customers from rambling

When you are caught on a long call with a storyteller or rambler, ask 3-closed ended questions back to back. Make sure the questions are closed ended (answered in one word or series of numbers), relevant to helping the customer, and require the customer to use the left-brain. When you do, you’ll instantly be back in control of your phone calls.

I see customer service professionals and all kinds of business professionals struggling with call control. I see this a lot.

That’s why I created my Call Control Strategies Training Kit. If your people struggle with long-winded callers, storytellers or ramblers, take a look at this training resource.

 

How to Resolve Complaints Without Giving the Store Away – free customer service video training from Myra Golden

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As a customer service professional you must be skilled in creating rapport, diffusing anger, thinking on your feet and offering resolutions that completely restore the customer’s confidence in your company. You must also be adept in resolving problems without “giving the store away.”

I have gone way back to get a video to help you resolve problems without giving away the store. The video is slightly painful for me to watch, but it has great content. Watch one of my first YouTube videos to gain field-tested strategies for remedying customers’ problems without losing your wallet.

 

If you’d like to see more videos like this, please visit my YouTube Channel.

Looking for Customer Service Training -eLearning? – Our flagship program is comprised of 6 online training modules with video, interactivity, downloadable handouts, and quizzes. Customers have the option of enjoying our interactive online training on our Learning Management System (LMS) or through SCORM modules for their own LMS. Explore our eLearning program (with great videos like the one in this post) right here:http://www.myragolden.com/webinars.php

TD Bank Turns ATM into Automated Thanking Machine

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So, it’s time for some good news in customer service. One of my clients just emailed to share with me how TD Bank ATMS gave out surprises that stunned customers. The acts of surprise made me smile, cry and thank God for such unexpected joy. I’d like to try to make you smile too. Take a look. You might even cry like I did.

 

 

Related

Zappos brings happiness to an airport on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Wow.

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