Customer Service Strategies in Isolation

Jan. 14, 2021
Retain customers and improve your bottom line with these nuggets of wisdom.

When it comes to business of any kind, effective communication is paramount to bringing in customers, dollars, and good reviews. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many customer service techniques were left idling in desolate offices as Americans worked from home. 

Last month, during the Driven Brands Collision Virtual Summit, Nancy Friedman, a consultant and keynote customer service speaker, revealed her “golden nuggets” of stellar customer service, including an anti-COVID prescription.

Here are the doctor’s orders. 

Be prepared. According to Friedman, you should never say “I don’t know” to a customer, even if you don’t. Instead, you should say, “That’s a great question, let me write that down and get back to you.” 

“Don’t be an ‘I don’t know’ person,” Friedman said, “Be a prepared person.”

Embrace change. Friedman said to embrace both the expected and the unexpected by shifting your mindset. 

“Think of them as improvements, not changes,” she instructed. By thinking of changes as improvements, Friedman said they will be easier to digest. 

Do something extra. Friedman said, even during the uncertainty of a pandemic, “One thing you can always do is something extra.” 

Your something extra does not have to be extravagant, Friedman assured. Something as simple as lollipops for kids will do the trick, she said. 

“Do something [your customers] aren’t expecting.” 

Avoid the four killer words. According to Friedman, there are four little words that can kill any customer service interaction. Those words? “Hi, how are you?” 

Friedman said those words are useless because they do not serve to further the conversation. 

“You’ll still go to heaven if you say it,” she promised, “But don’t.”

N.U.M. Call. When in doubt, Friedman suggested hopping on the phone for what she terms a  “NUM” call.

“No. Ulterior. Motive.,” she said. A ‘NUM’ call reminds your customers that you’re there, you’re ready, and you value their business. Friedman said you should be calling your clients even when you don’t need something from them. 

Don’t be too busy to be nice. Friedman recalled a time in which one of her favorite vendors, during a curt phone call, said he was “too busy to be nice.”

To that, Friedman replied, “Everyone is busy, busy is good, thank god we’re busy. But don’t be too busy to be nice.”

Return calls and emails in a timely manner. Returning messages in a timely manner shows that you are paying attention to your customers, their needs, and most importantly, you are willing to help, Friedman said. But returning messages within 24 hours is not always possible, which is why she suggested a buffer email. 

Replying with something as simple as, “I got your message and I will reply within 24 hours. Thank you for bearing with us,” will go a long way with clients, Friedman said, adding, 

“Your please and thank yous count more now than ever.”

Anti-COVID prescription. Friedman said the anti-COVID prescription is the care gene. She recommended starting customer service training as soon as possible so your employees can show customers where their priorities lie. She also suggested weekly meetings with your staff to discuss “what went right and what went wrong.”

“Customers don’t care how much you know until you show how much you care,” Friedman said.

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