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?

Book Writing Rules for Coaching Book by Judy McKee and Expert Coaches Worldwide

CoacJudy Cartoonhes and Trainers Write a BOOK!

We are all going to write a book about training and coaching in the Call/Contact Center.  I will set up a rules page with timelines and goals. Write to me at my business e-mail if you wish to submit a page.  Look up my profile and you will find my contact information.  I am in the phone business.  We will, for the time being, call it Coaching and Training 101.  Every page will have a different idea and the book will be segmented into several parts.  Training Ideas, Coaching Ideas, Forms, and Mental Makeovers for Contact Center Trainers and Coaches.  What fun we will have.

Send me your information so I can e-mail you the rules for the Book on Coaching.  I have 23 people so far who wish to contribute.  I think we need about 100 people.  (Not that I can’t fill in the other pages.)  If we don’t get 100, we will do it with the people we have.  I need a place to e-mail you updates and rules. Let me know your contact; mine is Judy McKee  760-738-8200  judym@mckeeconsultingllc.com

  1. Please Read the Book NOTES Rules
  2. You may submit more than one idea…read the instructions.
  3. 2016 Book Notes LinkedIn Coaches

I am inspired by all of you.  Please send me your personal e-mail links so I can write to you.

  1. When you send in what you write, follow instructions so I don’t have a lot of work to do.
  2. Be sure you edit for grammar as well as content.
  • The Purpose is to Support Coaches and Trainers Everywhere
  • Goals and Objectives: Create through Training and Coaching a “situational course that will make your clients and customers more profitable.”
  • Intended result: Obtain JOBS for all of you in your various countries.   Start with the end in mind.  SET SMART goals if you wish.
    • Sincere
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Realistic
    • Timely

I will share later what my goals are for this Book.  WE are going to do this!  You are going to be a part of it.  You can say you are an AUTHOR because you will be.  The Book will be on AMAZON and we can talk about advertising it later.

Sincerely

Judy

ASK Maureen – Coaches Corner – Fix Push Back

Coaches Corner – Maureen Tzouris PCA Coach Speaks Volumes

Branding Issues and offer-3Agents Push Back!

Dear Maureen, Our company recently went through a corporate restructuring and have installed new compliance requirements. We are now requiring all the agents to brand the company at the end of their calls and this is receiving some push back from the agents. Do you have any suggestions?  ~We-love-our-brand

Thank you so much for your question! This scenario is actually quite common and is experienced by many managers and coaches. First, I would suggest setting some clear expectations so that all agents understand what is being asked of them. Secondly, I would suggest holding small breakout training sessions to include some suggestions on what and how exactly the agent can say to close every call with the branding, perhaps to include role playing. And, lastly– I would recommend sharing this information from the ‘three party promise’ perspective–this is where the company, the customer, and the agent all WIN!

I would explain that:

1) the company would like to brand the close because they are confident that their customers have all been completely satisfied during the call and want to extend and build upon the good faith practices.

2) The customer or member will feel confident that the agent cares about all of their concerns and questions and was handled professionally! (We’re in this together!)

3). The agent can take pride in themselves because they will sound much more professional, well trained and proud of their workplace. As with all new changes it takes a little time to make the adjustments so I recommend regular coaching to support the agents.

 

Tips on Networking for Coaches

Would you rather read a romance novel or make love?

Romance novel or REAL LOVE EXPERIENCE? –     From the MIND of MCKEE

I agree with everyone who says: We as training instructors have to open up to these amazing new ways to teach and train agents who are on the phones with REAL people.

My ideas would be these.

1. Do all of the definition work in advance. Make sure every lesson has a pre-training Web Based Training (WBT) part that will engage the learner in “knowing” what they do not know. Finding out what you do not k now that you do not know is such a good thing!

2. Pre-Training is a must and can be done easily with WBT. The Instructor Led Training (ILT) portion can be faster, more interactive and completed in less time when the trainees understand the meanings of things in advance of the class room experience.

3. Homework and short tests help but will not give the learner “experience.” This is KEY…THIS is ESSENTIAL, THIS IS ABSOLUTE. I TAKE A STAND ON THIS! (caps on purpose)

Math can be learned on paper. Instructions on how to do something like put the groceries in the bag can be demonstrated and visualized and understood. BUT, when the words say one thing and the tone says something else, that takes skill in a whole new way. Say, “He didn’t murder his wife!” five times and each time put the accent on a different word and see how the entire meaning changes.

My biggest FEAR is we won’t use people on the phones at all someday. (SAD huh?) I can see the writing on the wall…can’t you?” ROBOTS everywhere. They are there now but not one hundred percent. YET.

Right now we need people desperately because we need to learn to talk to one another, (Are your children talking to you?) engage one another in conversation, talk with a customer and not AT THEM. This can be learned intellectually but “Communication Skills” require people to WAIT-FOR-IT…. to Communicate, Converse, Relate And Engage…with each other. This requires Skill in the following areas.

  • Listening to the other person, not interpreting but hearing the other person and discovering the emotional needs of that person with a willingness to help.
  • Acknowledging what you hear without judgment in your tone of voice and with sincere acceptance of the other person having a point of view that may or may not agree with yours.
  • Making some type of comment that is not threatening, smug or arrogant, not too long or pushy , that lets the other person know that you heard and understood them and that you have a comment on it, support for it or simply a concern for the person and ‘their’ issue.
  • And in order to continue this intercourse, ending your side of the conversation with a question that does not make the other person feel wrong or stupid while engaging them by talking in a way that makes them feel smart and right at the same time.

In order to do this, you may have to transform your way of handling others. You need to work with people and hear their tone, their emotional needs, the feelings that are being expressed, if you don’t do that, you may be able to pass the Quiz but can you actually converse with another human being???

To me, it’s like baseball…if you read about it, does that make you HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK?

Like riding a bike. If you read a book about it, took a web based training about it…Can you ride a bike?

When you read a recipe do you actually taste the food? or Customer Service Sally

It’s like love, do you want to read a romance novel or “love somebody?”

Let’s love our Customers enough to talk to them. Let’s love our Trainees enough to give them what they need to know and then communicate to them with INTENTION.

It’s simple, it isn’t easy.

Create your training program in three parts.

1. Lessons, DATA, Definitions and Information

2. Classroom: Refresh the information and teach Communication with INTENTION to have your trainees “experience” the lesson. Role-Play and Practice listening, acknowledging the other person, speaking and commenting about IT and asking questions that move the conversation along.

3. Quiz and test and interact on E-Learning in small bits and pieces so learning can be incremental.

It can be done but remember Judy’s advice…Don’t CAVE on Communication, Sales, Customer Service or Retention…Take a STAND!

Call me and let’s talk about it.

~Judy McKee

Coaching and Complacency – YUK!

Dear Judy,

I am a Contact Center Quality Coach. I am bewildered and do not really know what to do about these agents who seem to be complacent. They meet their numbers, they do the least they can do and still maintain their job. They don’t seem to care if they do better. How can I motivate them? How can I inspire them? I don’t even understand their attitude.   I always want to improve and do better and they seem not to be on the same page…. What do I do?

Signed,

Bewildered and Uninspired

Dear B U,

OH! Boy! Now this is a great question because it pushes every button I have. I am a ‘go-getter’ and I have never understood people who were not that same type. It has been my practice to avoid them and try as I may they keep on showing up.   This, of course means they will keep showing up because (you know this I have said it many times….) “anything you resist will persist” and I RESIST them. So, here they come again.

Well, well ,well, Is there nothing new in the Universe? Here is my sage advice and I only say that because I am old and I keep trying to figure out what makes these people tick and since I have failed miserably, I have this word for you. In the words of Vinnie, “fagetaboutit.” Or In metaphysical terms…”Let THEM Be”. Now I know that’s not enough so here is my serious take on the whole issue….ready?

  1. Calling them “complacent” is a judgment call. You decided they were that way. Oh, I know it looks like they were complacent and THEN you decided to call them that but try this on for size…you decided they were complacent and then you gathered the evidence to prove you were right. It’s called projection creates perception. BUT that’s….too hard to handle. I know.
  2. SO, Instead – Remember in the L-A-M-A Training and in The Positive Coach Approach we said….GIVE UP your judgments and FIND the emotional need of the OTHER person??? Well, this is it! Here is your chance to see if you have any power in the Universe. YES! You DO!
  3. Stop judging them and naming them ‘complacent’ because that makes you seem better than they are and they can only do one thing with this….RESIST YOU. If they are meeting their numbers and doing what it takes to PASS. Leave them alone. If you can still create a ‘safe’ environment for them to be exactly the way they are, wait for it……they won’t have to stay in the same place.
  1. Here is what will happen if you DO NOTHING:
    1. they will stay the same and you will be at peace about it.
    2. they will do something wrong or fail just to get your attention
    3. because they no longer have to resist your judgment call they may start to “man-up” This is all good news.
  2. The BAD NEWS you don’t get to be RIGHT anymore but you will be happier at your job.

If you insist others change to make you happy…you won’t have fun at your job.

If you open up to thinking you only have one job and that is to make them better at their job and you do it with love instead of fear or judgment…. they will thrive. …or NOT. It will up to them. (Adult Principle in Positive Coach Approach)

It is the height of arrogance to think we have to change other people.

Instead…change ourselves. That is really the only person we CAN change. Rules by J. Glass.

  1. Show Up On Time
  2. Be Prepared
  3. Do What You Said You Would Do
  4. Do All This With A Great Attitude.

Leave the REST up to the Universe….that always says YES.

Judy McKee

GOOGLINESS and All That Jazz

For years I have had a small but persistent itch to get even with all the ‘techies’ who make my life a problem. I know it’s generational thing. Still, I have a problem with the same things.

  • Accountants near the call center want the ‘agents’ to be QUIET. I want them to be loud and full of energy, vitality and pzazz!
  • The GEEKS of the world are out to get me… They usually do because they have brains and apps and I only have guts and all that jazz.

Last night I saw a movie that made me feel so good. I ended up liking the ‘geeks’ and loving the fact that that the star of the movie was a ‘salesman’ who saved the day in the end. I love to be right! Sometimes the most positive people in the world just don’t fit in. They seem to be out of touch with GOOGLINESS. But they are really never “out of touch with rhythm and blues.” (Billy Joel wrote that line)

Watch the film and see how you can learn this lesson if you needed it like I did. The ‘geeks’ are here to stay and boy oh boy do I need them! I now will give up my resistance to them and keep in mind…I have “googliness” it’s a feeling of team spirit and believing in myself and others. The Movie is “Internship!”

I give it 5***** because of the great message. It is funny and now I want to get even more in touch with GOOGLE, GOOGLINESS, and having FUN at work. I always did have that last part.

 

~Judy

Good News Bad News – Finance World Here We Come

Well, isn’t it about time? We are finally taking the The Positive Coach Approach back  into the finance world.  We once trained Discover Card and took their Retention Business up by 50 points in a month using L-A-M-A.  We once helped American Express COLLECT money from their at-risk people without making their customer “feel” wrong or stupid.  (They kept their accounts, too.)  It works and now we are taking The Positive Coach Approach all over the world.  Thank you world for waking up to THE POSITIVE WAY of DOING THINGS and how good it works.

The Positive Coach  Approach is like an inevitable right of the people! Who said that ? Lincoln? Anyway, we know and we know we know…it’s time to make the Customer feel right and smart to do business with you.  STOP Using those BAD, BAD OPENERS.

Yesterday, I received a a cold call from Debra (no last name) from some company (no company name) initials…who asked me:

1. How are you?  ( I don’t know her, I didn’t recognize the company Initials..It wasn’t IBM)   2. They were going to have an executive from their company near my office on Monday..would I be available at 11? (SHE ASSUMED I would REALLY WANT TO MEET WITH A STRANGER AT MY DOOR ON MONDAY AT ELEVEN?)

Cold Callers are STILL USING THIS OLD PLOY???  WHAT???      How is this happening?  How are the companies of the world still teaching this? Where have all the NEW SMARTER THINKERS GONE?   WAKE UP Businesses that call to other businesses!  STOP THIS  find the PAIN mentality!  THIS phony “How are you?”

How about this instead?  Please help the business by asking for permission after offering something for the prospect.   (Respect and Permission Work Better.)

How about this?  “Good Morning, May I please speak to Judy McKee, (YES) Ms. McKee, you don’t know me but my company MONEY, is one that saves small businesses who need to make their collections higher, a great deal of money.  Do you have a minute to talk about this and find out if you have any need for our services?”   Now YOU ARE TALKING.

Assuming I would let a stranger just come over at 11 on Monday, someone I never heard of and I do not  know anything about,  and I do not know what he/she wants/ like I have nothing to do/ like I would be stupid to miss him since he’s in the neighborhood. WHAT??. THINK ABOUT IT!  Its About Time to give up negative and assumptive attitudes because…people are wise to it and THEY don’t like it.

 

 

“Love-Me-Trust-Me” in the first 20 seconds.

Hi Everybody, I know I have not written for a long, long time. I cannot help it.  I am so opinionated, I am afraid to write.  Lately, I have been watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.  Sheldon is a genius who does not understand sarcasm, sex, or emotions.  He writes letters to the T.V. Networks and has no understanding of why they don’t pay attention to him because he is so smart and of course literally “right.”  He is so amusing.

You know our training says Never Make the Customer “Feel Wrong or Stupid.” We say this for ONE REASON ONLY…to make sure that when the Customer Calls, the Customer has a “safe” environment in which to communicate.  No other reason at all.  It’s not a trick; we are not trying to “find the pain.”  We would like the Customer to tell us their pain or problem or issue without us having to intrude on their “safety.”

Here is my question today. Why do companies’ think they can “trick” “cajole” or “manipulate” the customer into anything?  If they do succeed in this, ‘shame on them.’  The price will be huge because you may get a one-time sale but not a life time customer.  When the relationship is built on trust, you can bet the customers will come back.  They will never come back if you are the least bit “Un-trust-able.”

See what I mean?  I am opinionated and sometimes I feel like Sheldon because I am right. It doesn’t work to be right if you have to make others wrong in the process so instead of being right, let’s make the customers “feel” right and smart to call us.  Try that for a whole day and you will be LAMATIZING your customers.  They will love you for it.

Here is how to create “Love-Me-Trust-Me” in the first 20 seconds.

Instead of asking for DATA in the first 20 seconds of the call, how about saying something like:  Hello, this is _____ your name with _____ (Company Name) How may I help you today?”

  • Customer says: I would like to have help or find out some information about ______?
  • “You called the right place.  I can definitely help you with that.  May I have your name please?”
  • Okay, Mr. Jones, How can I help you? Or WHAT made you call us today? Or What prompted you to call us today?  Or Exactly, what happened? Tell me everything and leave nothing out. . .(it’s a statement like a question)
  • If it’s RETENTION and the Customer says: “I want to cancel”  here is what to say:
    • I am so Sorry to hear that, Mary. You have been with us for a long time or You have been with us for such a short time. (whatever is true)
    • May I ask what caused you to make that decision?” The greatest question in the world because it acknowledges the decision of the customer while trying to find out the cause of the decision.  This question does not attack the customer but respects the customer.  When the customer answers, the agent knows what to fix.

Sheldon Cooper and I have very little in common except the desire to be “right.” I have to test every theory I have and I can say without a doubt that if you do not make your Customer “feel” RIGHT and SMART to TALK to YOU…you are taking too many risks.  Sheldon has no other friends except the ones who are geniuses like him and put up with him so they will have some friends, too.  Your company could do it RIGHT and STILL be RIGHT.  Make your customer “Safe” to talk to you. Then, watch those numbers go up, up, up.

~Judy