By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

FACT: Customers go out of their way looking for companies that give great customer service.

FACT: Some find it; some don’t.

Once a year (at least) and especially at holiday time, it’s healthy to go over a few of the good, old common sense, customer service tips. The ones we all know, yet nice to get a reminder.

Our books, Customer Service Nightmares, as well as The Good the Bad and the Ugly, two of our 9 popular books, is proof that customers love to report on how badly they’ve been treated. When asked, they answered in the hundreds – near thousands, with stories about how bad their experience was. (We did get a few ‘good ones’ though.)

Here are 15 tips . . . fifteen customer service tips that are good old common sense thoughts, ideas, and skills. Short, sweet and to the point. Enjoy. Share – some folks aren’t aware.

1. “Please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome” always have been, and always will be, powerful words. Seldom overused.

2. “You’re welcome” is simply the best replacement for “no problem” (and no worries).

3. “Sorry ‘bout that” is not an apology. It’s a cliché. “My apologies” is better when there’s been a screw up. “I’m sorry” is when you step on someone’s toes.

4. A frown is a smile upside down. Stand on your head if you must; but SMILE darn it!

5. You cannot do two things WELL at once. Pay full attention to the call or the customer.

6. One-word answers on email, phone or in person are considered cold and rude. Three words make a sentence. Be generous.

7. Learn what phrases frustrate your customers. They’re probably the same ones that bother you.

8. When was the last time you sent flowers or candy to someone – – just because?

9. Drop a personal handwritten note to a client and simply say, “thanks for being a good client,” “good friend” or “ thanks for being you.”

10. “Hey, how ‘ya doing?” is not a great way to start up a business conversation. In fact, it’s not any way to start up a conversation. Period.

11. Out with friends or family? Put the cell phone away. Talk for 30 minutes. (If you remember how.)

12. Email manners? Basically, the same as phone and in person.

13. The old “don’t tell ‘em what you can’t do; tell ‘em what you can do” applies to most, if not all, customer interactions.

14. Get excited! Enthusiasm is contagious. Start an epidemic. Make sure you say something fun, nice and appropriate in every conversation, on the phone or in-person.

15. Oh, and smile. YES, that needed to be said twice. “A phony smile is better than a real frown.”

Start with these tips, skills, ideas and techniques and you’ll notice a big difference in how your customers respond. Enjoy the holidays!

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Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers.