Digitize Those Defining Moments! LAMAtize the chats, texts, and twitters!


It’s an idea whose time has come

Life Lessons in the Call Center are very real.  Here is a quick story about how one company used their new Salesforce Program (NO I am not a Salesforce salesman) to save a very upset customer!  (I am always looking for defining moments on a phone call, email, or chat.)  THINK L-A-M-A, then call us.

Here is the story about how one call center discovered that a customer had contacted their company four different ways, in just one hour.  And Salesforce did all the work.  The CX manager was pinged with a customer issue, and when he put in the information, Salesforce created a list of all four contacts, and the text of those issues. (Could this happen to you?)  Here is what happened.

  1. The customer contacted the company by chat…and hung up after waiting.  Unsure of where the agent had gone.
  2. The customer tried chatting again – was still left on hold…hung up again!
  3. The customer sent an e-mail, and received a terse, yet accurate return response.
  4. The customer received a CX survey.  They proceeded to send it back, blasting the company for terrible service but a great product.

The Coach/CX Manager gave the original Chat Agent a pass…she was handling so many chats at once, and he thought the customer could have been a little more patient.  The Coach also gave the e-mail agent 100% for accurate information and a speedy response. Although the agent got good grades, the customer wasn’t happy.  Are you seeing the missing link?

The Survey comments were angry, and the customer could not understand why she was treated so badly when she was long-time customer of this brand and often purchases with her on-line account catalogue.

All of this could have been avoided in the very first CHATHow?  Wait for it…Here is the answer which can change that customer experience into a satisfactory one.

  • We call it L-A-M-A, you would call it templates.
  • We call it Training the agents to understand the Art of a Question
  • We call it digitize a response that includes the L-A-M-A

Here is how it would all work if the Chat agent knew how to L-A-M-A

  1. Chat comes in…Chat agent asks “How may I help you today?”
  2. Customer offers their needs
  3. Agent L-A-M-A-tizes and Digitizes the answer. (It could be a template as well.)
  4. The digital response ends on a question. This changes everything …(just be sure the question makes the customer right to answer it – don’t ask “How old are you?”).

Agent: “Thanks so much for chatting with me today.  I will look that up immediately and it may take me a couple of minutes.  I will be right back.  Do you mind waiting?”

Customer: “No, I can wait, I really like those jeans.”

  1. The customer is waiting by permission. The customer made this decision.
  2. The Agent ended her side of the conversation on a question asking for that permission. (So polite, so grateful, so customer centric – Call Center talk for CARING)
  3. The Customer waits patiently and receives the answer.
  4. The Chat Agent ends with, “So glad you chatted today…Would you like a coupon for your next purchase?” Customer says “YES!”
  5. Agent sends a link to the coupon and a final “Thank You,” and branding the call.
  6. Now, it’s perfectly fine that there is no question, because the Agent doesn’t want any more response. (You can do the same thing with e-mails)

Remember “The person who asks the questions, is the person who is controlling the path of the call, or the chat session.”  The e-mail and chat agents, don’t know this simple rule.  They never learned the L-A-M-A Technique, so they cannot be blamed or graded.  The fault lies in the lack of communication or soft skilled training course. (“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” That’s Shakespeare, a little impressed…right?)

The L-A-M-A goes DIGITAL

With a L-A-M-A-tized/DIGITIZED first Chat session, there is only one contact. One and done! (Thanks to L-A-M-A) The customer does not need to chat twice.  This saves time in the chat area.  The customer does not e-mail anyone, or sends in a negative survey.

Great story about defining moments Judy . (Judy talks in third person) Could you please SUM IT UP?

*  The Coach (JUDY) heard the absence of a question which caused the customer to hang up. (What can I tell you…it’s what I do!)

*  The SALESFORCE program reported all the negative remarks from the same customer in just one hour, all in the same place, making it easy on the CX manager to get to the bottom of it. (Is that what you meant by sum it up?)

*  The Customer received a very nice note from the CX, thanking the customer, and got another coupon. (WHO HOO! The CSAT scores go up again.)

*  Judy or Sally received kudos from the company for teaching them the LAMA.

* The Company saved a CUSTOMER in the end. (We want them for LIFE, don’t we?)

* The Customer received both an acknowledgement and discounts.

* The Future Agents of Chats, Phone, and Email room will all be trained in the L-A-M-A Technique and the ART of the QUESTION.

* Salesforce made the digital part all possible and the L-A-M-A TECHNIQUE made all the communications work better.

The END….All is well and it all happened because of a Defining Moment when one person forgot to ask a question.  This will never happen again.  WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN… (How many wins in that?)

I would rather ZIG when everyone ZAGS than anything else.

I love that the Agents get to WIN too!!!


Mystical? Magical? Vicious? 

Are you caught in a Vicious Cycle that damages your self-esteem or the self-esteem of your Agents? The cycle can look like this.

This is a Vicious Cycle of Negativity

I hear something wrong on a call, I get Quality to Agree it is bad.  I send out a graded form that tells the Agent what is wrong with the way she handled an issue or a person.  I set up a feedback session disguised as a “coaching” session.  In the meeting, I make sure the Agent sees the error of her ways.  I tell her how to do it right, or how we did it in my day.  I tell the Agent to fix this for their next evaluation. I hope they are repentant and willing to take the constructive criticism well and mend their ways. I watch and listen for improvement and wonder why I don’t hear or see much improvement. I am frustrated. (BTW so is the Agent and now lacking self-esteem)

This is a Vicious Cycle of Positivity

I hear the Agent make an error on a call. He said something that doesn’t please the Customer.  I ‘think’ that Agent needs more confidence and maybe a lesson on Handling the Upset Customers. I am the COACH and I am responsible to help the Agent improve. AND, to give him acknowledgment and show my “confidence in him.”  I set up a time to meet with the Agent for a coaching session. We listen to the recorded call.  I mention that I thought the customer was not happy with the way she was handled or the matter handled.  I ask the Agent if he felt the same.  Aha! We agree.  Okay, Perfect.  Now I ask the Agent, “What can you do in the future to make a situation like this a better experience for the customer?”  I tell the Agent, “I know you can come up with some good ideas and use them in the future.” (Building the Self-Esteem of the Agent) I tell the Agent he is doing a great job and I would like him to come up with some ideas for a way to handle this, and we can agree on it.

Why should you as the manager, supervisor, or coach build the self-esteem with Positive Coaching? If you build self-esteem instead of correcting, you’ll have a Vicious Cycle of Positivity:

  • Higher Agent Retention
  • Agent Pride in themselves and the company
  • Better Performance and
  • A Much Better Customer Experience

It doesn’t take a Miracle, and it isn’t Magic or even Mystical, but it is Vicious!  The fact that we don’t quite understand how to build our own self-esteem and that of our Agents.    What’s the Quickest way to Build the Self-Esteem of your Agents?  Okay WAIT FOR IT. . .

Tell your Agents how wonderful they are!  Find something good about a call.  Give them not only a compliment, but a specific opinion or a measure of something good they did.   People are so micro-managed and they have the computer listening in on their every word.  Imagine what it would be like to hear nothing but good stuff all day long.  Can you imagine that?  Is it mystical to say that…what you think is what you get?  What you think – GOES! Is it Magical when you take time to find something wonderful about your Agent, and then tell them? Is it a Miracle when they SMILE at you and feel proud of their work? If you spend at least one day every week, acknowledging your AGENTS, Miracles will Happen! The best part…the Vicious Cycle of Negativity will be completely obliterated! TA! DA!

*Share your stories with us.  We love to hear how our tips and coaching helps you and your company!


The biggest cause of turnover in the contact center industry is Negative FEEDBACK and everybody still does it!  Why ? ? ?

Usually I do not use words like “sucks” but I want your attention on my intention. Thank you for opening this blog. I want to help you be able to help the agents enjoy their jobs more.  I want companies to retain their agents and have much less turnover, and of course, I want everyone to use The Positive Coach Approach.

Feedback simply doesn’t work when it is negative.  Agents don’t ever quit their job. They quit their supervisor, their manager, their coach, or their quality call checker.

It seems people would rather be RIGHT, than happy.

Supervisors are racking their brains for a new formula, a new way to correct, a different way to “hold people accountable.”  What they really want are results that work for everyone; the Customer, the Company, and the Agent.  When applying feedback or monitoring using computer based bots, or when supervisors threaten with bad grades or poor quality assessments, they have forgotten that the agent is one of the three components to the equation.  I do know that they mean well…

This type of simplicity is very difficult for complicated minds. The technical methods are holding us hostage.

What do we want?

  • A happy atmosphere where people thrive and create a safe environment for the customers, and are wide open for the opportunity to sell something of value to the customer. This way everyone thrives; the Company, the Customer, and the Agent.
  • A happy environment with LESS TURNOVER
  • A new way to feel good about coaching

The Contact Centers are filled with good people who want to do a good job.  The people you hire come on with great anticipation, and they want to do it right.

And, just as soon as they get trained and start to work, the “feedback” starts. 

Oh, yes, it’s kind at first…and then the real compliance and quality checks start to rear their ugly heads.  Words like “I want to hold people accountable.” And, “Constructive criticism is good for them.” Or even, “I have told that agent a million times to do it my way, and he/she still insists on doing it the wrong way!”

It’s okay to train and to coach, but if you call coaching “feedback” then your agents may feel criticized, and it will not be a good experience for them. Remember that you want happy agents, doing a great job for the customer and the company.

You only have to give up one thing…BEING RIGHT!                     Then the agents will do a GREAT JOB!

You don’t really have to be right.  All you can do is, trust that you hired adults who can self-correct, if you show them how.

The price you pay to be right goes across all lines, and is at every level. (Take this part home.)  This price is too high.  The agents QUIT!  The cost of turnover in the USA, is in the billions. Still, companies try every kind of scheme, every type of new way to hear what the agents are saying using robotics and artificial intelligence.  It is artificial…it is artificial!  It is unkind, and it is simulated intelligence. It’s not REAL.

ARTIFICIAL: Made in imitation, produced by humans, affected, or feigned

INTELLIGENCE: A capacity for reasoning or understanding, knowledge of an event or circumstance received or imparted, a gathering or distribution of secret information

Kindness: Gentle, tender and good, showing or based on gentleness or consideration

COACH: A person who instructs or trains and supports an athlete or performer

Nowhere in the dictionary does it say, criticizes, manipulates, schemes, grades, demeans, or makes the ‘coachee’ feel wrong or stupid. (I know you don’t mean it but you have been trained.)

Let’s consider a NEW way, listen to a new voice, the voice of “What Works” and not the voice of what’s right or wrong.

Here is some advice from this old coach.  I am not old school, I only have old values.  I am not uncool, I am very cool, I have sunglasses to prove it.  I am not righteous, I am kind.

Believe people are phenomenal when given the chance to show their true colors

  • Clarity is POWER

o   Put your attention on your intention

  • notice whenever you are bitter, anxious, righteous, parental, and right…usually you have a form in your hand

o   Put your attention on your intention to support in a kind way

  • Ask your agents to make the call great and to self-correct if needed
  • Ask them how they will do that and what they will fix
  • Ask them when they will have it done
  • First comes AWARENESS, then Enlightenment

o   Pay attention to your own mind and notice when you don’t think they can do it without your help and criticism

o   STOP this thinking immediately

o   Open the doors to a coaching experience instead of a FEEDBACK one

  • Pat yourself on the back for giving up the following:

o   Being parental – you just give it up, it doesn’t work anyway

o   Being manipulative – “Wouldn’t it be better if you just did what I say?”

o   Being forgetful about how KIND you really are and how much you want the agent to succeed and be happy to stay in their job

FEEDBACK doesn’t work, kindness and believing in your agent’s capability to SELF correct works.  These are human principles and they will never fail. They cannot fail, they are as real as gravity.

It’s always your choice.  Choose the Positive Coach Approach, even if you have to admit at first…it’s new to you.  Tell your agents and they will get it!  They are so smart and will STAY at their JOB much longer if they like IT and YOU.

~Judy McKee

Get Clicking
Creating a team that clicks requires more than a data dump

     When it comes to creating a successful training session, much of the weight centers on the person delivering the information.  Delivering information in an entertaining way, that won’t put attendees to sleep, is only one measurement of success.  The media used, the data presented, and, of course, the enthusiasm of the trainer all impact what agents retain and, ultimately, employ on the call center floor.  However, no matter how skillfully a trainer delivers information, if they can’t inspire and motivate attendees, their efforts are wasted
     Training programs must be designed to deliver solid, useful materials and skills that trainees can readily use to enhance their performance.  An element of training that is often neglected is the addition of inspiration.  Dispersing information without adding ways to motivate and inspire reps ends in lackluster performances.  As trainers or call center managers, it is important to impart these contagious emotions to the entire call center team.  Doing so creates a team that “clicks.”  Neglecting to do so creates a team of agents who simply go through the motions.
do we mean when we say click?  It can mean different things to different people.  For instance, in the book, “Clicking,” Faith Popcorn and Lys Marigold say, “The very word [clicking], the very sound of fingers snapping – wakes people up, shakes people up.  A light goes on, the puzzle pieces tumble into place and suddenly you’re aware and alert to the chance for a brave new future.”
The dictionary defines click as to fit together, to become suddenly clear or intelligible.  The colloquial definition is to succeed or make a hit.  This definition could be compared to when, former Boston Celtics player, Robert Parish recalled the days he and teammate Larry Bird “played absolutely effortlessly and clicked on the court.”
Computer users might associate clicking to power.  Whether single or double clicks, a simple motion sends commands, moves icons, creates a link to the Internet, or brings an image flaring to life.  Click again, and it’s in the trash – Gone Forever!
 a final definition, some have described their personal clicking experience as a thunderbolt, a surge.  There’s a wonderful seismic word, tsunami, meaning a gigantic ocean wave caused by an earthquake or volcano.  That’s a terrific way of capturing the feeling of a real click – a powerful wave that’s capable of changing the world or an individual.
How does clicking apply to the world of call centers?  When a trainer and a group of agents click, agents grasp and understand the concepts that have been delivered.  One could say, when something clicks, a light goes on in the trainees’ head that says, “Aha!  I get it.”  But that isn’t where the concept of clicking ends.  Clicking continues on the call center floor as the elements learned are put to use.
To get agents clicking, it is usually best to end the training session with an inspirational story.  Inspiration has the unique ability to breed self-motivation.  Presenting a brief story after information has been delivered, will give the agent the ability to mix hard facts just learned, with individual emotions that together, will heighten their performance.
Trainees want life lessons as well as work lessons.  Trainers will often collect stories describing the success of individuals who persisted and achieved lofty goals despite hardships, setbacks, lack of talent, or physical attributes.  Stories can be readily found in biographies of scientists, athletes, inventors, adventurers, or campaigners for human rights.  Relating to agents how others have overcome their challenges, inspires them to look at their situation in a new light.  This thought-provoking exercise often brings a renewed sense of enthusiasm as well as a starting point for new ideas, solutions, or processes.
A trainer or call center manager might use a personal, on-the-job experience.  Not only does this technique bring the trainer to the agent’s level, it also addresses similar challenges.  Relating a personal experience along with the final, positive result gives trainees insight into their own tasks.  Learning from tried-and-true examples of others, gives trainees a head start, and helps them avoid making the same mistakes.
There is an old Samurai adage in the Hagakure that says: “The way is in the training.”  This means there is only one type of training, and that is the training everyone must conduct for him or herself.  Teachers and trainers have a great purpose in life.  But before they can be effective, they must first train themselves.  Staying mentally sharp requires continuous training and finding new ways to overcome hurdles.
As a trainer, if you’re able to impart to trainees a vision, motivation, enthusiasm, and the tools and information needed to support them in their jobs, then everything will click into place.  Don’t be surprised if the trainees eventually outshine the trainer.

Three Steps to Certification in The Positive Coach Approach

In every Contact Center in the World, there is a “Coach who has a tremendous responsibility to improve the skills of their coachees.”  Brain Training, Consciousness Movements, and Behavioral Styles all help to support better communication. Until the Coach Can Create a “Safe Environment” and give the Agent a chance to Self-Correct…all you have the same old thing.

There are THREE STEPS to Becoming Certified in a whole new methodology.  And these steps never fail!

Step 1: Discover Where You Are Now.  Check your results over the last year. Ask your Agents how they like the coaching and if they feel they are getting what they need.  Ask your Customer, “Do you enjoy talking to our Agents?”  And ask the Coaches if they passionate and happy to be coaching.  (Okay, I know that’s a lot for one step!)

Step 2: Admit you have a list a mile long of why any new program won’t work.  In fact,  write down all the reasons you can’t afford it, don’t have the time for it and think it’s just a new “thing” that will go away if you just ignore it.  You can never actually “get” your intention when it opposes anything else, so it’s best to get all those doubts and fears out there…look them over and simply decide.  So what if I thought that? Really, the TRUTH will set you FREE!

Step 3: Call the Authors of the Positive Coach Approach and say: “What is so different about your program, and what evidence do you have that it works every time?”   Now that’s a great start and we will take it from there.  See? It’s EASY as 1 -2 -3 – Remember We’ve GOT THIS!  AND We will GIVE IT TO YOU.

Anything Can Happen!

I once used this title “Anything Can Happen!” as a Keynote Speech Title where many people came to attend.  Everyone enjoyed the positive message but there were not as many people in the seats as I would have liked.  So, I found a list of Keynote Speech Titles on the Internet and decided to try one.  The title was “Stop the Bleeding!”  and Another one was called “Kill the BAD RAP on (Whatever)” and I used “Telemarketing.”   Here is the interesting part about those titles.

  • The ones that were negative drew more people. We think we are being positive when in fact we kind of love the negativity.  We thrive on fixing things.  We just adore getting into the “HOW” of everything and coming up with answers.  It makes us feel powerful. 

So, I have learned over the years to deliver keynotes that are Motivational, Inspirational, and full of a Positive Message, but the titles that draw more people in are the negative ones.  Nothing is better than an Inspirational Speech, one that moves the molecules around.  But to get an audience into the room requires some thought.  We need a title that will peak their interest and drive them to want to come.  If you doubt me on this, check out all the ads. You will see they reflect this.  Titles like “Three Secret Lies In Business No One Ever Told You” or “Ten Nightmare Things That Can Happen To You!”   You can check out the titles on the WEBINARS offered or the Buy One Get One FREE things.  BOGO’s don’t draw as much of a crowd as the BAD NEWS does.

If you are an executive and you want a meeting to be filled with all the people you really want to be there, don’t promise them “Joy at any cost!”  Do not offer solutions or answers!  Tell them you will give them “The 3 ways people look for love in all the wrong places” or “Let’s Kill the Messenger!” “Start with Breaking all the RULES” and the room will be filled.  For Customer Service Speech…never use “Help is on the WAY!” instead say: “Go To The Internet And Fix It Yourself.”  I promise, your room will be packed!

When I started the LAMA TRAINING years ago, I started with “Always make your customer feel right and smart to do business with you.”  Want to know what they always remember?  “Never make your customer feel wrong or stupid.”  Guess what?  They keep coming back for more.  That’s my take on it this month.  I wouldn’t mind giving a keynote or short course at your place of business…I will find a title that will drive everyone into the seats!  Anything can happen, and I am up for it!

Rules for Making the Customer (and others) “Feel” Loved not just in February but all year round

  1. Remember that Communication is a function of INTENTION – In other words…what do you really want to accomplish on any phone call; inbound or outbound?  Think what your words mean, and say what you mean.
  2. Control the Path of the Call – Never control the person you are talking to, but always control or guide the call to the next place that will demonstrate to your customers that they are more important to you than anything else.
  3. When you want to ask a question – Ask it in a way that shows love, attention, interest, or understanding.  Never ask a question that you need to know for YOU…but ask questions that you need to know to help THEM.  This will never fail you.
  4. Love your Managers as well as your Customers

o   Everybody knows this but often they forget to say it.  Say “Thank you.”  One of my clients gave a bonus to his entire contact center and took them on a trip, paid their way, and paid for their day off while on the trip and out of 100 agents…only 2 wrote a “Thank You” note.

o   Being Grateful is a way of getting rich.  Pam Grout wrote a book called “Thank and Grow Rich.”  This is a play off on the famous book “Think and Grow Rich.”  If you take the time every day to “Count Your Good Actions and the Good Actions of Others” you won’t have time to complain, moan, or groan about things.  The world will react so positively it will seem like magic…Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.

  • “Think NOT what your country can do for you…but think what can you do for your country.” JFK

o   An old saying that bears repeating.  Ask yourself these questions: How can I support my Customer?  How can I support my Manager?  How Can I support my Associate?  How can I support my company?  Then…Watch what happens!  Yes, you can write me and tell me all about it.

  • Example: I was preparing to pay for the movie tickets for myself and a friend of mine because she was down at heel, low on funds, and a little depressed.  When she found out we could get in on this special day for only $5 each…she bought the tickets.  I let her do it because she proclaimed it made her feel so good to give to me.  Now that’s how it works.  She feels good because I didn’t buy the tickets.  Her self-esteem went up and mine did too.  We need to allow others to give to us some times. Right?
  • That’s Judy’s take on things this month.

INTENTIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS  – What the heck does that mean?

First Intention – Then Enlightenment!

This column will be from the heart of Judy McKee the trainer.  Every month, I will have some lesson I learned in the Contact Center or life and share it with you.  Of course, you are under no obligation to follow and do what I do, but this is how the L-A-M-A Training got started.  I simply tried to do what works and drop what doesn’t work.  That’s all great to say but not as easy to do.  FIRST, you discover what isn’t working and tell the truth about it.  I discovered that negativity didn’t work and yet it seemed to be the strongest vibration we have.  If you say you had a bad day, and describe your bad experiences; it just doesn’t work for happy relationships.  Let’s find out what works and do that.

This is a process to discover the negativity that guides people to behavior that is parental and judgmental. A list of what works, and what doesn’t work, so you can be happy. This mental exercise will help anyone who feels negative (it’s the way we were trained.)  The society we live in is always looking for what doesn’t work, so they can complain or blame.  *Complaining doesn’t work.

Let’s find out what does work and change our minds.  Yes, people can change.  You want to be positive so you can help your agents succeed. Once negative notions are acknowledged, they can be replaced by notions that are positive. The natural process will cause anyone who does this exercise to change and to have the rewards that come with a positive attitude.

There’s an old saying that says you cannot be kind to another until you are kind to yourself.  The problem is that all of us treat ourselves badly because okay, yes, we make mistakes but we can let ourselves off the hook.  It’s OKAY!

Looking back to mistakes is not so good.  Simply acknowledge you might have done it better and proceed to the HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE!  It’s right in front of you.  First Intention…then Enlightenment!  Happy Intentions for 2017.

Don’t Fight Your customers on the Way Out – Part 2

Empowering Your Customers by Asking the Right Question!

Judy and her team continued to work with the agents to help determine the cause of the customers’ rejection. Agents quickly had the answer (as they often do) when they told her that the customers were irritated at being asked why they wanted to cancel. Some customers even said, “It’s none of your business, just cancel.” It is a standard opening question in most call centers, and yet, it undoubtedly puts the customer on the defensive. “Why do you want to close your account?” or “What didn’t you like about the product?” may seem like decent opening questions but really causes the consumer to ‘put up their dukes.’ It was clear that the company had asked the wrong question. But how do we fix it? How do we find out why the customer wants to cancel without asking, “Why”?

The answer is to simply ask them about what caused their consideration, their choice, or what made them choose to opt out. We recommend an opening question like “May I ask what led you to your decision today?” This question gives serious importance to the customer’s right to choose. It empowers the consumer and opens a dialogue that will often reveal clues on the underlying reason for the cancellation. The approach does not just throw money or an offer at the customer. Instead, it acknowledges their choice to choose us.

Judy recently had a wonderful opportunity to work with a company that sold a continuity plan for cosmetics. After listening to a few calls, Judy got the sense that the customers felt that they had been tricked into buying some slick membership plan. It was strange; the cosmetics were AAA quality and sold at a very affordable price. So, why were there so many cancellations? After digging into the challenge, Judy realized that the real reason for the cancellations was too much product. No one could actually use all the wonderful lotions and creams in one month, so the customer was overwhelmed. Judy in conjunction with the call center management set out to re-word their scripting. Representatives were taught to simply ask, “What caused you to make that decision?” Customers responded well and were eager to tell the representatives that they had too much product. As a result reps started moving the customers to a smaller plan (instead of cancelling) and ultimately saved the company millions of dollars. Even if the customer still said, “No thanks,” they went away from the interaction saying, “Someday we will come back, we really love the product.” What a win…the company won, the customer won, as did the representative who no longer had to ‘fight the customer.’

Leaving a lasting impression…

As more and more industries gravitate to a centralized call center strategy, the need for Customer Care to serve as a differentiator is growing. We can continue to operate in a ‘business as usual’ manner or we can surprise our customers with a new approach. An approach that empowers our customer, one that lets them decide. Yes, we can give them options, give them all the features and benefits, try to find a plan or product that works for them, but, ultimately, if they want to go, let’s wish them all the best and not fight them on the way out.

At the end of the day, retention is not about the $24.99 product, or the 1-year membership that we are trying to protect, it’s about how the customer thinks about us as an organization as they are walking away. Let’s not deliver a knockout punch when a customer calls to cancel. Let’s hope we can all be saved by the bell. When that phone rings, let’s give our customers a chance to be the winners and unlike a boxing match, no one gets counted out, everybody wins!

My hope for every customer that touches my call center is that they walk away saying, “Well, their service was not for me, but when I called to cancel, they sure treated me well.”

What do your customers say when they are walking away?

Don’t Fight Your customers on the Way Out – Part 1

Round 1 – Ready to Fight?

Calling to cancel your membership or return a product? Put your boxing gloves on, it’s time to fight. It can be stressful these days when calling an 800-number to end your subscription or to return a product. As a call center savvy consumer, I know the representative/retention specialist on the other end of the phone is about to do his or her best to convince me to keep the service or product. Here comes the script, here come the offers, and that typical bad question, “Why do you want to cancel your service?” Ultimately, it is my decision, and yet, I am about to face someone over the phone who will attempt to talk me out of it.

Having built and trained world-class call centers over the years, and as customers, Judy and I have both encountered countless examples of how companies actually fight their customers as they are trying to close or cancel an account or return a product. Far too often scripts are written that unintentionally make our customer feel ‘wrong and stupid’, putting them on the defensive and more eager than ever to cancel. It is a challenging task to train your retention representatives to think in a new way, one that makes customers ‘right and smart.’

When did it become wrong for customers to change their minds? When did it become a fight with the consumer when they simply want to say, “No thanks”? Our representatives are really between a rock and a hard place. On the surface, it appears that there are two conflicting goals, two masters to serve; retain as many customers (and money) as possible, while helping customers cancel their account. Huh? How do I do both? Which one is more important?

Our answer is simple, but not always easy to understand or implement. We first need to recognize that this phone call, this interaction is most likely the last time that particular customer will talk to your organization. The choice is ours, do we make the customer’s last experience with our company standout as a struggle or do we help them along their way? What we need to do is make the customer feel right about calling in, right to choose our company in the first place, and, if we can’t find what caused their decision to cancel, say goodbye with a great spirit of caring.

It’s All About The Money….or is it?

Retention programs are often launched with a flawed goal at the center of their charter and the wrong plan for retaining customers. The ‘show me the money’ approach, or one that thinks we can merely throw money at the customer, does not work. The Beatles said it best, “Money can’t buy me love,” and this is true in the call center as well. Call center leaders often wonder why their retention programs are not hitting their ‘save’ goals or why they are not protecting enough revenue for the company. Have we ever considered that maybe the reason is something that money could not fix?

Several years ago, Judy trained a large credit card company in retention. Customers were calling in large numbers to cancel their cards and the retention plan had representatives immediately offering $20 incentives and when that didn’t work they offered $50 or NO annual fee. Management was dumfounded when customers continued to say, “No thanks.” Company executives could not understand the problem and spent countless hours trying to understand why customers were refusing their offer. What was wrong?