Why You Must Acknowledge a Customer’s Anger

A common mistake I hear customer service professionals make when I perform quality checks is ignoring the customer’s expression of anger.

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There is something known as the communication chain. When people communicate, they expect the person they are communicating with to respond or react…this response is a link in the communication chain. A failure to respond to communication leaves the communication chain broken.

For example, If I open a customer service training with “Good morning!”…and the audience is dead silent, they’ve broken the communication chain. And that leaves me feeling awkward, perhaps embarrassed. I’d have the uncomfortable feeling that the workshop would not go well, based on the lack of acknowledgement.

If a customer expresses anger and we fail to respond to it, the communication chain is broken and the customer feels like they are not getting through. The customer might become even angrier and more difficult, as they are resorting to whatever it takes to feel heard and understood.

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You can keep your angry customers from getting angrier by linking the communication chain. You link the chain by acknowledging anger.

Respond to anger with a statement like, “Clearly you’re upset and I want you to know that getting to the bottom of this is just as important to me as it is to you.” This statement assertively addresses anger – without making the customer even angrier.

Now that the anger has been acknowledged, you have completed the communication chain. Had my audience in our example replied in unison, “Good morning” the communication would have been linked and I would have moved on feeling great about the training day. When you link the communication chain with unhappy customers, they feel acknowledged and they are more likely to move on.

Here are some phrases that you can use to help you acknowledge anger:

“I can understand how frustrating it is when …”

“We want to get to the bottom of this just as much as you do.”

“I realize how complicated it is to …..”

“I cannot imagine how upsetting it is to …..”

“I know how confusing it must be when …..”

“This is no more acceptable to us than it is to you.”

Don’t ignore a customer’s emotion of anger and don’t attempt to tiptoe around emotion. Acknowledge your customer’s emotions. When you do, you’ll link the communication chain and you’ll have a better chance of controlling the conversation and moving the interaction to closure.

This tip is taken from Myra Golden’s famous Verbal Aikido training. Learn more about this training here or Download a PDF brochure of this training description

Here is a 4-minute video on the importance of acknowledging customer anger that you can use to train your customer service team.

Q & A on Millennials In the Workplace

Portrait of a smiling business woman with an afro in bright glass office

 

Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are stereotyped for having a poor work ethic, being job hoppers and not respecting authority. But are these generalizations true?

Stereotypes or reality, you will have to be ready to embrace millennials because most generational researchers estimate that by 2020, millennials will make up half of the US Workforce. In this article we will answer your most pressing questions about millennials, set stereotypes aside and look at what research says about the newest and largest generation in the workplace.

Q: How long should we expect Millennials to stay on the job?

Fifty-four percent of college-educated millennials expect to work for between 2 and 5 employers over their entire career. They will change jobs every few years and this “job hopping” is beneficial to both employees and to employers. Employees who stay with a company longer than two years are said to be get paid 50% less, according to Forbes magazine. The benefit of job hopping to employers is job hoppers tend to be high performers and loyal because they care about making a good impression in the short amount of time they know they’ll stay with each employer.

 Q. Do Millennials respect authority?

Yes, millennials respect authority. In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership has found that millennials are more likely than previous generations to give respect and loyalty to authority figures. Millennials tend to respect authority based on expertise, loyalty, and experience.

Q: What does it take to engage Millennial workers?

What we know from research into people born between 1980 and 2000 is they are driven, inspired and hard working. Millennials are engaged when they feel they are making a contribution, doing meaningful work and when they feel valued by the organization. The Center for Generational Kinetics has identified 5 key drivers to engaging millennials:

  1. I feel I am valued in this organization.
  2. I have confidence in the leadership of this organization.
  3. I like the type of work that I do.
  4. Most days, I feel I have made progress at work.
  5. This organization treats me like a person, not a number.

 

Myra discusses her work on generations in the workplace in the video below

 

Q: How do Millennials like to learn?

Millennials like to proactively seek out knowledge when learning. They like getting how-to tips from YouTube, forums, blog posts and other social media. In the workplace, professional development needs to engage millennials’ preference for technology, videos and interactivity. Blended learning solutions that include highly interactive classroom training, dynamic eLearning, videos and discussions will best teach millennials.

 

Q: What skill do Millennials most need to learn in order to succeed in the workplace?

Millennials spent their formative years engaged with technology. Entire relationships were built over text messages and social media. Instead of hanging out at the roller rink or out riding bicycles, they were more likely to converse with friends through short digital messages. As a result, millennials need help with people skills. Providing professional development opportunities that emphasize empathy, human relations skills and public speaking will build their confidence and position them to create more value in their work.

Millennials are some of the brightest and most loyal employees you’ll ever have. Provide them the opportunity to do meaningful work, relentlessly focus on keeping them engaged and keep them learning. When you do, they will reward you with creativity and loyalty.

Myra Golden is a customer experience and diversity keynote speaker and trainer. For information on Myra’s keynotes and training sessions, please click here. 

 

Review an actual slide deck from one of Myra’s recent keynotes on generations in the workplace.

Myra Golden Generations Keynote Slide Deck

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Sources cited

Keng, Cameron, Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less, Forbes magazine, June 22, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cameronkeng/2014/06/22/employees-that-stay-in-companies-longer-than-2-years-get-paid-50-less/#3e7af36c210e

CBS New, Why Job Hoppers Make the Best Employees, April 23, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-job-hoppers-make-the-best-employees/

Center for Generational Kinetics, Unlocking Millennial Talent 2015. Retrieved from: http://genhq.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Unlocking-Millennial-Talent-c-2015-The-Center-for-Generational-Kinetics.pdf

Developing Leaders, Center for Creative Leadership. Retrieved from: http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/capabilities/GenerationY.pdf

Yield to Callers (Don’t over talk or interrupt)

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I couldn’t remember the last time I got a really good photo of my daughter, other than the many snaps I take on my phone, so yesterday I grabbed my camera and had Lauren join me in the front yard.

“In front of the bird bath” I told her. “That way the evergreen will be in the background and it will be gorgeous.” She’s 16 and that means she’s tethered to her phone. Instead of posing for me, my daughter posed for the camera on her phone. Her smile was real and perfect. Her eyes lit up and she was clearly enjoying the photo shoot, her photo shoot. Alas, the “Selfie Generation.”

I was just about to tell my daughter to put her phone down and to focus her eyes on my camera because, after all, that is why we are out here. But I could see she was loving the moment. I know from experience that my kids hate posing for my camera. So, instead of directing the photo shoot, instead of telling her to put her phone away, I simply yielded.

I yielded and I took photos of her taking selfies. It’s not the portrait I envisioned; yet it was perfect. I captured my 16 year old doing what she does. By yielding to her, I gave her a better experience and I got a genuine capture of who she is. I captured an image that will bring back happy memories years later.

Thinking about yielding to my daughter reminds me of a training point I will make with a client later today. When I monitored calls for this client, I noted several occasions where employees talked over customers. Frequent interruptions and not allowing callers to finish statements led to the perception of rude and over-bearing employees.

When I speak to my client, I will remind the group to focus on yielding to customers. I will tell them:

  • Allow customers to finish sentences
  • If you accidently interrupt a caller, apologize
  • Even when you know within a second or two that the call will need to be transferred, allow the caller to finish their statement before making the transfer

Yielding to my daughter gave both she and I a fun experience. Yielding to callers makes customers feel heard, respected and understood. Over talking and interrupting leaves customers with an unpleasant feeling. Don’t be overbearing. Don’t interrupt. Don’t over talk customers. Yield and the experience will be more friendly and pleasant for customers.

Keep Customers Apprised – An easy way to improve the customer experience

Here’s a quick way to make life easier for your customers. Keep them apprised of next steps in their customer journey. Super Shuttle, a nationwide airport shuttle service, put a smile on my face and removed the risk of stress in my life by simply keeping me apprised.

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As I was gathering my things and heading out of the keynote ballroom, my smart phone buzzed. It was a text from Super Shuttle. They texted to give me my vehicle number and a link for me to track my shuttle. I had a very short window of time to get back to the airport for my flight and it was rush hour in Austin. This text with tracking information certainly made life easier for me.

I entered the hotel lobby area and took a seat to wait for the shuttle. Another text arrived. It read, “Your shuttle driver is Yobran and your shuttle number is 539. The expected arrival time of your shuttle is 5:06pm.”  

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Proactively keep your customers apprised. When you do, you’ll put them at ease, build trust and reduce customer stress.

 

 

 

4 Things Every Supervisor Should Be Doing to Address Unacceptable Employee Performance

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I want to talk to you about how to most effectively handle unacceptable employee performance. But before I get to that, let me tell you about a situation with my daughter.

I had to take my daughter’s phone from her yesterday. I don’t like that I had to do that, but I had a responsibility to take her phone. We have a rule in our house. Having a smartphone is a privilege and certain actions can result in a phone being taken away. One of those actions is a grade of a C or lower. My daughter’s Geometry grade dropped to a 76% yesterday. She chose to not turn in not one, but two assignments last week.

From the day we bought her phone, my daughter has always known that anything less than a B will result in loss of phone privileges. My daughter can see her grades daily online, as can her father and I. The expectations are set and clear. She has every possible opportunity to keep her phone, simply by maintaining excellent grades.

Online Chat Customer Experience Myra Golden

So, I don’t have to feel guilty about taking her phone away. There’s no benefit to her for me to go soft and let her slide. For what would I be teaching her if I let her slide? I’d be teaching her that she can slack and get away with it. She’d learn that my word is not solid. The focus and determination in academics I’m trying to instill in her would be harder for me to teach. So, the consequences stick and it is indeed for her best.

As a supervisor or manager, can you easily set expectations and deliver consequences?

If you are a parent, you likely can easily set expectations for your child, issue consequences and not feel guilty about it. You know what you’re doing is best for your child. But, can you behave the same way at work?

Can you follow through on consequences, knowing employees were clear on your expectations? Can you discipline your employees without feeling guilty?

My daughter knows I’m not made at her. Because I have always been clear on expectations and because I always follow through with consequences when expectations are not met, my daughter knows the discipline is not personal. She knows she made the choices that led her to the consequence of loss of phone privileges.

When you set crystal clear expectations for your employees and you ensure that they fully understand those expectations, it’s easier for your employees to accept any consequences their choices may bring.

Here are 4 Things Every Supervisor Should Be Doing to Address Unacceptable Employee Performance

So, you’re here so we can talk about how to most effectively handle unacceptable employee performance. Here are 4 Things Every Supervisor Should Be Doing to Address Unacceptable Employee Performance.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations makes it easier for employees to meet those expectations. Set clear expectations and check with your employee to make sure they understand them. Here’s an example of a manager setting clear expectations for supervisors.

“I need you to monitor 5 random calls per agent per week. At the end of the week I want you to sit down with each agent to discuss the call and your rating of the call.”

And here’s another example for clear expectations for supervisors:

“All emails must be responded to within 6 business hours without exception. If your team is experiencing an overload, work with another team for support of your backlog.”

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2. Get Agreement From Employees On Expectations

I fly a lot and on every single flight I observe a flight attendant going to the passengers seated in the exit rows and saying something similar to this.

“Are you aware that you are seated in an exit row?” She or he always waits for a verbal “yes.” “In the event of loss of cabin pressure or an emergency, are you willing to assist?” Again, she waits for a verbal “yes.”

Getting agreement on performance expectations is literally this simple. State your expectations and get a verbal confirmation from your employee that they understand and agree with the expectations. If they don’t agree or understand something, it is up to them to ask questions and to seek clarification.

 

3. Explain Consequences of Not Meeting Expectations

The thing that makes removing my daughter’s phone privileges easy, and it happens regularly, is that she knew upfront what the consequences would be. Make sure your employees know the consequences up front.

I am working with a client to gain adherence to the attendance policy in a call center. The attendance policy was already quite clear. The problem is, the consequences were not consistently applied. So, I coached a supervisor on how to establish consequences for attendance problems. I suggested the supervisor say to a particular problem employee:

“This shift is from 3:00pm – 11:00pm. I need someone who will be here no later than 2:55pm to start the shift daily and I hope that person is you. If you are not able to immediately begin getting to work on time, discipline will follow and it may include termination.”

4. Follow-through on Consequences

The key to employee discipline is follow-through. If you are inconsistent, you send a message to employees that they can push the limits – and some will do just that.

 

The Bottom Line

When you establish clear expectations, get employee agreement on expectations, and you ensure consequences are revealed up front, you can address unacceptable performance assertively and without feeling guilt. It’s up to you. Good luck.

You might also like:

4 Pain Points of Coaching Employees and How to Handle Them

5 Things QVC Does Best in the Customer Experience

I am delivering my Way of Harmony keynote at a conference tomorrow. Rehearsals are complete, I had a fantastic dinner with my client, I just Faced-Timed my husband and kids and now it’s time to prepare my attire for the event.

I almost always deliver keynotes in a little black dress (My closet is literally full of little black dresses of varying simple styles for my keynotes). I got a(nother) pair of new shoes recently and I am in love with these shoes. I got the shoes from QVC.com.

I intend to slay

I know, right? These shoes came from QVC. I’ve worn these shoes one other time and they are comfortable and stylish with the surprise gold heel. Taking out my shoes in preparation for tomorrow’s keynote got me thinking about the QVC customer experience.

Full disclosure. I’m a frequent QVC shopper. And I’m not alone. QVC is the world’s largest online retailer, generating $8.8b in annual revenue in 2014. Not only am I QVC customer, I’m a fan. I’m a fan of their fantastic and profitable customer experience. Speaking from my experience as a long-time customer of QVC, I’d like to talk to you about 5 things you can learn about the customer experience from QVC.

My intent with this discussion is to inspire you, my friend, to take a look at your own customer experience and look for ways you can adopt and adapt ideas I’ll share to your own customer experience so you can make your experience fantastic…and profitable.

  1. Easy

That was easy

QVC has mastered easy, particularly when it comes to returns. QVC customers have 30 days to return or exchange any item. All orders arrive with a pre-paid shipping label. The return policy is no questions asked. The easy, no-questions-asked return policy allows customers to shop with complete confidence and complete ease.

2. Accessible

QVC is brilliant when it comes to creating a customer experience that meets their many demographics of customers. The company offers fast, live-person customer service over the telephone 24/7, which is very appealing to Baby Boomer and Veteran generation customers. Placing orders on the company’s website and smartphone app work very well for Millennial and Generation X customers.

3. Enjoyable

Many of the QVC hosts engage and interact with customers over social media. This engagement allows customers to feel more connected with hosts and it enhances the overall customer experience.

4. Emotion

QVC, which stands for quality, value and convenience, truly delivers their namesake. Customers get high-quality merchandise, from diamonds to shoes to gourmet food. Many products feature exceptional value pricing plus interest-fee installment payments – value. Shopping from home or on the go by phone, web or app is certainly convenient.

Delivering a customer experience of quality, value and convenience leaves customers feeling impressed with themselves; feeling like they’ve made smart choices. When a company can effectively introduce emotion into the customer experience, they have mastered the customer experience.

5. Friendly

I once chatted with a QVC Customer Service Representative about the status of a product return. I simply wanted to confirm that my return was received, but I walked away from the chat session with a Beyond WOW reaction. The WOW started with this message from the Representative:

“Ms Golden, I’m so sorry the Canon Vixia HV30 MiniDV HD Camcorder hasn’t been processed as of yet.  I know you’re anxious to have this completed.  The return processing time can take up to 17 days from the date an order is returned to QVC.  I hope your item is processed soon.”

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This chat experience was personalized, friendly and fast. I was beyond impressed.

Your Take-away

Make your customer experience easy, accessible, enjoyable and find ways to leave customers feeling impressed with themselves. When you do, you’ll be well on track to consistently delivering fantastic customer experiences. Good luck!

What It’s Like to Attend a Myra Golden Keynote –> DFW Airport Women’s Conference (WIN) 2016

I loved speaking at the 2016 DFW Airport Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) Conference. We had more than 600 beautiful, talented and driven women in attendance. I truly enjoyed working with the executives at DFW Airport to design this special keynote to focus on taking the customer experience to the next level.

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After my keynote, the ladies blessed me with hugs, invitations to be in selfies, conversations, smiles and promises to stay in touch. I felt so welcome, so apart of this network of strong professional women.

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This is an event and a company that I’ll always hold dear. Thank you ladies of DFW. You truly blessed me.

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We both look shiny and I think it’s from the lighting….or maybe we were glowing from such a great day.

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Myra Golden Keynote DFW Airport

Reaction from a DFW WIN Attendee

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In rehearsal for this week’s keynote

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In rehearsal for this week’s Women’s Conference for the women of DFW Airport. They are going to LOVE this keynote!

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And I am loving this hotel. The Hyatt Regency DFW had these healthy and sweet treats waiting for me when I arrived. This is just what I need!

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What a nice touch to include a glass and complimentary bottled water.

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What It Means to Be Out of Harmony with Customers. A Lesson From Carl’s Jr.

 

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No, this is not a Carl’s Jr. veggie burger. Not even close. This is what a Veggie Burger Should Look Like.

My family decided on Carl’s Jr. for lunch. Fast food was the last thing I wanted, but I wanted to go with the flow with my kids. I quickly pulled up the Carl’s Jr menu on my iPhone and to my surprise and delight they have a veggie burger (I’m a vegetarian who eats vegan 99% of the time).

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On the website the Carl’s Jr. veggie burger looks delicious and they describe it this way:

Veg It.® – Guacamole Thickburger®

Feast on guacamole, Pepper Jack cheese and fresh fixings, all on a toasted sesame seed bun. The meat goes, but the flavor stays.

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This is perfect for me. I’ll simply hold the cheese and enjoy this flavorful veggie burger.

I’m the first to order. I order the Veg It, and please hold the cheese. The lady behind the counter says, “We don’t have any veggie burgers of any kind.” I tell her about the Veg It burger from the website. Again, she says they don’t have veggie burgers.

Ok, so I ask if they can make a veggie burger based on what I read on the website. I explain that the Carl’s Jr. Veg It has guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion and comes on a sesame seed bun. She sighs, looks like I am personally putting her out and takes my order. I’m delighted that I could at least request what I wanted and after my kids order, we take a seat and wait for our food.

To my chagrin, this is what I got. I open a burger container to see two large leaves of iceberg lettuce, a single tomato slice, and red onions that are less than fresh. On the side there is a plastic cup with guacamole. No bun is included, mind you.

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This is what they are calling the veggie burger. Wow. Um, wow. My neighbor’s rabbit would be disappointed in this meal. I was speechless. Actually, curse words ran through my mind. Were they really serious? I should have taken a picture of this thrown together mess. Instead, I closed up the carton and pushed it away.

I deliver a keynote I call “The Way of Harmony.” It’s about aligning an organization’s processes, people and products (or service) with the needs of customers.  When an organization is in harmony, the customer gets a delightful and memorable experience. When it’s out of harmony, customers are left disappointed and are at risk for defection and spreading negative word-of-mouth advertising.

Carl’s Jr. was out of harmony. The website listed a veggie burger, described it in a way that pleased my palate and even showed an image of a lush guacamole burger on the website. Yet, the store in Italy, Texas either had no idea that the company advertised the Veg It burger or didn’t care to make the burger.

Being out of harmony creates a frustrating negative experience for customers. It gets customers talking to their friends and family about the let down. It motivates people to tweet rants. It reduces the chances of customers coming back. Certainly, I’ll never return, not even for my kids.

Here’s a tip for any business that has a website, and that should be EVERY business. Make sure your actual product and service offerings are in harmony with what you advertise. When your advertisement is out of alignment with your actual offerings and experience, you confuse customers and send them running….to the competition.