Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Please and Thank You

We are always taught that "Please" and "Thank You" (P&TY for the sake of brevity) are the most powerful words/phrases in the English language.  Much like death and taxes, this is as true today as it has been for as long as man has been here on Earth.  I suspect, however, cavemen used "Ugh" and "Ouch".  

As important as it is for the customer service rep you are dealing with to use P&TY when assisting you, it is equally as important for you to try to be as-if not more-gracious yourself.  This will benefit you in dealing with the various types of reps:

1.  Nice-P&TY will help to gain mutual respect and therefore a mutually satisfying outcome.
2.  Mean-P&TY will keep the rep ass-holing their way through most of the call until you convince them that they are unqualified to assist even the least celled creatures.  You'll have the benefit of experiencing how polite they really get once you decide to move on.

Receivership of bad service should motivate you to speak to that rep's manager if you have the time.  I would argue, however, it's best to share that experience with your friends as chances are their reaction to it will have more of a chafing effect on the company than a manager chastising the rep based on your feedback.  I will, however, encourage you to speak to a manager every time you receive good, great or even amazing P&TY service.  There are a few reasons I say that:

1.  It should offer some guidance to the company on the kind of people they want to keep company with (I think that was a slight pun).
2.  Wouldn't you want the same done for you?
3.  Your comments may translate into a reward for the person.  After all, you were rewarded in time saved, aggravation not reached and a satisfying resolution to your issue.

And, when you can, write down the name and direct number of the rep that gave you this great service.  In most larger companies this is not possible, but take a crack at it.  I got a name and number from a Wells Fargo rep today and, believe you me, I will use it. Also, still believing you me, the rep will be more than happy to help me (above and beyond) because his manager got my feedback and shared it with him.

And believe me you, because this is what I do for a living.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vacation and Gunther

Well, just back from a glorious vacation.  While blogging is not necessarily considered work, I took a little break from that too.  One of the constants during a vacation is the receiving of customer service. My intention for this blog is to not only offer advice on how to give excellent customer service (and all that it entails) but also how to receive excellent customer service.  Often times, we get so wrapped up in the bad service that we may receive from one individual that we waste our own time struggling to get what we want from them instead of just moving on to the next person.

Speaking of constants, you can always expect to receive poor customer service when dealing with large companies.  The last time I needed Comcast's support, it took me 3 calls to finally get to the right person who provided me with what I needed.  Yes, that is a waste of time.  But I guarantee that I spent a shorter amount of time with those 3 calls then most may spend arguing on one.

It all boils down to me getting what I want as the customer.  That I have to deal with the bureaucracy known as customer service in some of these larger companies is a force of nature that I will never be able to change.  I can only hope that I have as much as a positive influence on the person helping me, who might "pay it forward" to the next difficult customer they handle, as they have on me when I get what I want.

When I used to wait tables, I found myself constantly consoling other waiters when they got pissed about a bad tip.  My advice would always be to suck it up and don't let it affect your experience with your next table.  That next table may be a big tipper unless that bad attitude is carried to them.

Which brings me to Gunther (name has been changed to protect the identity of the innocent). Gunther was a young kid, probably working here because his parents thought it would be a good idea to teach him about the real world.   I was in the diaper section of a large grocery store and, of course they were out of my size (my kid's size, you...).  The first team member there started walking my way.

Me:  Excuse me, I am looking for the size 5 diapers in your brand and I don't see them.  Do you have any in the back?
Gunther: (In monotone) I don't know I just started working here.

Gunther then continued on his way.

Me:  Do you think that you could find that out for me?
Gunther:  I will try.

I did not expect him to return.  He did not return.  And that's okay.

I found the next team member walking by and got the help I needed.

Now,  I could have become irritated.  I could have spent time hunting down and waiting to speak to the store manager.  I ran into Gunther a bit later and I could have stopped and hassled him.  But, you know what, who would that really affect?  Me.  I would be wasting my own time.  And my words would have most likely fallen on deaf ears.

We've all been there.  We too, at one point, did not feel any gravity in our first jobs; we were surrounded by bad advice from disgruntled vets; we viewed the work day as something to get through, to survive; but most of all we probably did not give a shit about the job because it was something that we had to do because someone else told us so.

Don't waste your time worrying over bad service from young kids or from anyone. People are always complaining that they are not treated like human beings when calling for customer service.  Well, the same goes the other way-we need to treat customer service specialists like human beings too.

You've probably already heard or read about the incident known as "The worst customer service call you’ll ever hear, and it’s with Comcast" making the rounds on the interwebs.   While I can certainly understand the frustration this customer had with Comcast, after a while he could have simply hung up, cooled down and called back to speak to someone else.  Never hesitate to either ask for someone else to talk to or to hang up and call back instead of wasting your time trying to get what you want out of a less attentive rep.  Do not hesitate to ask for a supervisor if all others fail.  It is possible for you to get what you want and need you just need to find the right person to deliver it to you.

We do set our expectations high.  My father in-law always goes into Lowes with a pen and a paper. When he finds someone who delivers great assistance and customer service, he writes their name and department down.  When he comes back, he asks for the person by name.  Thus he achieves one of two positive outcomes:  either that person is working and assists him or that person is not working but the other reps on the floor treat him like he knows that person.  And typically, this will result in better service than on most "cold calls".

And it all boils down to this-he always gets what he needs.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Words, words, words.......

Customer service and language go hand in hand like "Fizzle" and "Awesome" do (or at least they used to). Here's a link to a TED Author Anne Curzan's article "20 WORDS THAT ONCE MEANT SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT". Hope it gets your thinking thinking!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teach Your Children Well

I used to volunteer at the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, doing clerical work, answering phones and putting location photos together. It was my in to get a start working as a production assistant. One of the other volunteers I worked with said something very smart to me one day. He said that if you ever want to understand a complex subject, find a book about it for for kids. I had, for some reason, always wanted to understand the science of physics, so I did exactly that-I bought a book about it written for kids. I was doing alright up until it got down with Einstein's time space bendy stuff-guess I was not kid-like enough to understand even at that level.

I have a five year old who asks questions non-stop. On a car ride, I get such an eclectic variety of questions from her and I freakin love it. See, kids just don't take "because" or "that's the way it is" as an answer. You will always get in return "But why because?" or "Why is it that way". And I want my child to understand what I am explaining to her, no matter what the subject is (after all, I am Daddy and I am supposed to know it all). The amount of thought that I have to put into answering the simplest questions sometimes staggers me;at the same time it sparks my imagination in a way that it has not been sparked since I myself was a child.

Some people say that customers are like babies and children and we should treat them that way. They call them stupid because they don't know how to solve a particular issue or they do not know what kind of software they are using. If you want to treat them like that because you view them as children, I am really concerned about the kind of parent you are (or might be one day). Would you ever call a child stupid because they did not know why we need to put gasoline in our cars, why butterflies are not birds, why there is imitation storms at the alligator pen at the zoo or how a hot air balloon floats? I would hope not. And as much as you would not expect them to know these things, you should realize the importance of teaching them, relating whatever it is you are explaining to the world around them and most of all showing them that you are someone that they can ask any question to.

So if you are going to think of customers as children, that's ok. But it should not be in a derogatory way. It should be one of thinking of yourself as their guide to whatever work center you support. You are the one they should trust to explain things to them in a way that they understand-with all the dignity and respect you should give anyone who asks for your help. To me there is no difference between teaching someone how to plug in their computer or remove malware from their system. One time I had to explain to a customer what a browser was. It was a very creative experience for me and left the customer with one less thing to worry about. Believe it or not, many times a customer will start off their question with "I feel so stupid for asking this and wasting your time". Before you offer any answer you should let them know that they are smart for calling for help and that without them you would have no reason to be here.

What is the most creative answer you have had to give to a customer in explaining something that you consider to be simple? Please comment below.........

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Slayercise, Gagacize, Puccinicize, JOHN FREAKING DENVERCISE!

Sick of coming to work in the morning and you are as tired as you should be at the end of the day? Tired of drinking coffee after coffee after coffee just to open one eye? They say you choose your attitude! How do you have time to choose your attitude when you can't even decide between yawning or stretching? Well, ladies and gentleman, today is your lucky day! I have developed a system so simple and that requires you to purchase ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in addition to what you already have at your disposal. You can practice my simple system to achieving total awareness and possibly, YES POSSIBLY, your happiest mornings ever. You'll be so happy people might even be afraid of you. AFRAID OF YOUR HAPPINESS! You don't need a fancy space with fancy equipment to practice this simple system. You can practice it in your shower, your bedroom, your car, the walk up to your office-or if you make it to the advanced level of this simple system, from your first sit down at home on the throne to your first sit down at the office in the chair at your your desk.

Here are these simple steps, revealed for the first time in any blog titled "Solomon Kleit-Customer Service Jedi":

1. Find a place of solitude(the bedroom, the bathroom or the car are good beginner spots).

2. Select the music of your choice (this may vary on several factors-just pick what calls to you).

3. Sing it as loud or as soulful or as Cookie Monster (in case bands like Soreption or Immolation call out to you that morning) as you possibly can. Remember that commercial where they say sing like no one is watching? The person who said that is happy;happily hiding away in the dark places of their house hoping that someone saves them. NOT YOU! If you want to successfully complete my SIMPLE system, must sing like you expect the whole world to be listening and you don't give a shit what they think about it. Just remember, you will probably sound better in the shower then in the toilet stall at work, but even then, who cares.

Just remember:

****Modern day Acoustic Science has proven-IN THE LABORATORY-that bathroom walls increase elasticity of vocal ranges to appear to remain a constant C-EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT!!!!

****Your husband, wife or partner will love waking it to you shaking it and filling their ears with a QUIET STORM OF AWARENESS!!!! (Crunk not recommended at these times).

****That guy in the car next you, driving like a coward with his windows rolled up, has been picking his nose like the world is NOT watching FOR THE LAST FIVE MILES! So, what do you have to be self-conscious about? He might, if he hears you, go from picking his nose to playing it like the Nose Harp it was intended to be!

****Singing to songs is a lot easier on the vocal chords if you know the lyrics (no strain=pitch gain)!

But seriously my friends, I sing every morning, no matter where I am going that day. I sing in the shower, I sing in the car and I sing on the way to the office. And, not to sound corny, it really helps me to rock out my positive attitude when working. I love the music I love, singing is physical exercise, head banging or shaking your butt is exercise. As much as it is a decision to start your day that way it becomes a huge part of the commitment you make to be happy no matter what comes at you!

Do it peoples!!!!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


The great thing about developing your customer service skills is that, unlike in most industries, you experience the other side of the coin on a frequent basis. Everyone experiences some form of customer service (or disservice) everyday. But you, as a customer service professional, get to learn from those experiences. You should really take advantage of this daily opportunity to learn through experience about good and bad and so-so customer service. You should bring pieces of the good stuff back to your job and incorporate it into your own brand of service. You should use it to help you filter out some of the components of your style that may not work so well. Moreover, it should bring you more in tune with learning how to treat others the way that you want to be treated and how to motivate the same for yourself from the customer service professionals that provide service to you.

It's a win/win. Your work becomes more enjoyable and so does your life.

I remember first digging out on the idea that while I was out in the world I was also training myself to do a better job. When I used to wait tables I used to eat out a lot. I often felt like one of those dudes you see in martial arts flicks-the one who goes from school to school, picking up some Praying Mantis here, some Flying Guillotine there and then meeting Ip Man and truly being humbled. Then destroying.......back to my point (I think). Everywhere I went to eat I could see what made the waitperson more efficient, what made me want to tip them more, what did they do that really added to my experience at the spot. Many times I would also meet the sharp end of some of the things that I may have not considered important to the patrons that I waited on. I remember one time, being at this vegetarian joint. It was small, had maybe 10 tables-constantly turned and burned. There were two waiters there-a live waiter and a dumbwaiter (the kind like looks like a baby elevator). Let me tell you-we were promptly greeted seated and served, we ate what we had never eaten before, we were upsold, every course was cleared before the next with warm and wet towels between. Finally, the check was presented on a clean table. Win/win-the waiter had a system, had his assistance, had his volume and made his money. And all at a little whole in the wall.

That reminds me-one time I had dinner at a really cheap diner somewhere in New York State. When I complimented the waitress on serving the salads in cold bowls with chilled forks she sounded surprised. That's the way it's supposed to me done, isn't it? Maybe in little places like this where service is what people come for but not always at the expensive joints. Or the chains.

Customer service is a participation sport. Practice good sportsmanship.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Everybody's Stupid, Somewhere

Everybody is stupid, somewhere. Ain't that the truth. That should humble us all. When you go to the auto mechanic, you do your best to find one that is trustful, knowledgable and won't sell you something you really don't need. When you go to the doctor, you expect that they will take the time to explain to you exactly what your condition is. You may be afraid to ask certain questions because, while to you they may seem major, you think that to the doctor they may seem mundane or infantile.

You should always leave with more answers than you have questions. And you should always want to come back.

When you are the expert someone seeks, you need to make the impression on them that they can ask you anything, they will always get treated with respect, they will get a straight answer and they never have to say they're sorry. When assisting customers I consider every issue to be of equal importance. Teaching a customer how to plug their computer in is just as important as helping them to remove malware. Nothing should be below what you would consider your caliber of skill and training.

And if you ever start to think to yourself' "I can't believe how stupid this person is", remember they are the reason you are here. They are the reason you have this job, eat and can play Candy Crush on your unlimited data plan.

My father understood people better than anyone I ever knew. His job was exactly that-to understand people. He did that job everyday for 35 years at the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. As a little boy, I remember one day an impression that he made on me that I still keep in the front of my mind at all times. It remains a core component of my work ethic and philosophy.

Scene 1; Interior, subway car.

Solomon and his father sit closely together, reading the Daily News. They are both reading the same article about a ring of criminals who got caught.


Dang dad, there are a lot of desperate people in this city. They do a lot of stupid things. That's messed up.


Just remember-those people put food on your plate.

Solomon finds himself in a daydream being served in a very posh restaurant by hairy thugs in undershirts and ski masks.....