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?

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.


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

Basics of Customer Service & Telephone Etiquette

Basics of Customer Service and Telephone Etiquette

WE GOT GAME in Rules of Engagement!
Basics of Customer Service and Telephone Etiquette

Is “tone” of voice subjective? Is tone of voice an inside job? Everything from tone to toes…is in this class. If it’s etiquette, we make it fun to learn. When it comes to posture and voice skills, this is the place. Ever hear the rule “Dress straight and ACT WEIRD!” – Never “Dress Weird and Act Straight!” When it comes to telephone skills, phone coaching is our game for sure.

Rules are the way we play the game. Follow the rules and you cannot fail to succeed in having a great experience on the telephone. Learn the Five Basic Rules of Engagement. It’s like baseball, 1st, 2nd, 3rd base, home! If you skip 2nd base- YOU ARE OUT! – Here is the first of five rules: “Always give the customers the information they need to make a decision.”

This course will train your agents to use the LAMA technique to:
• Control the Path of the Call
• Retain the customer’s good loyalty and relationship
• Advance the call with questions that make the customer smart and right!
• Know when to hold ‘em and fold ‘em.
• Give the 10 benefits to doing business with you.
• And the usual – transferring calls, the hold button, please and thank you.

The hardest people to teach are the ones that “Know it all.” Or “I have been here for 20 years… and back in the day…”
We know how to handle them
Fun, joy, and a new way of talking that will keep your customers for life!
We will create a “safe environment for all” and show the reps how to do the same for your customer.

All courses are customized and include training workbooks and one-on-one coaching using
The Positive Coach Approach method.

We will customize this course to the situations you have exactly.
Let us give you a program that will be accepted by your Customers, used by your Agents, and
retain your Customers for Life.

Handling the Upset Customers and Difficult People

Ask any agent how their day was and they tell you about the difficult customer they had. It never fails.

The hardest thing to remember is the GOOD stuff and it’s so EASY to remember the Crazy Makers.
With our LAMA and soft skills we decreased the supervisor calls of a huge credit card company by 75%.
Yes, we did!

Using the LAMA technique we will show your reps how to manage any situation with proven methods of conversational communication skills and engagement that will:
• Help the Agent to calm down any angry customer
• Use empathy to hear the REAL issue
• Show the Agent how to give up resistance to the difficult customer because they now have tools and skills to handle that customer

It’s time we stopped asking agents to – Just fix it and be nice

This course will give them the tools, the rules, and the words that work best. We will teach them five ways to deliver the bad news without discussing “That’s not our policy”. Agents will learn three ways to deliver the good news that will make the customer so glad to hear it. They will also find out the exact scripting for empathy, agreement, solutions, and how to ask the right questions using the LAMA technique. We will role play with the Customer Service Rep until they are comfortable and it won’t take long.
(By the way, our students usually tell us they’d like us to teach this to their leadership, their children, and their significant other)

It’s Communication Skills at its very best.
Never give up your customer relationship just to be right!

All courses are customized and include training workbooks and one-on-one coaching using
The Positive Coach Approach method.

We will customize this course to the situations you have exactly.
Let us give you a program that will be accepted by your Customers, used by your Agents, and
retain your Customers for Life.

Customer Service Center as a Profit Center

Soft Selling Skill Belongs in Customer Service

We will get the Buy-In and teach your team:

• It is a Service to Ask for a Sale – Believe it!
• You are not “Pushy” if Your Offer is Appropriate to Your Customer
• “Customers Don’t Know What They Don’t Know”
• Serving the Customer May Include a Sales Offer
• Let the Customer Decide

Learn Three Ways to offer an add-on. Use a cross sell or an up sell on every phone call
One of three ways will work on every call. Every call is an opportunity to Add-on to the original sale.
This course has something for every rep:
1. The Traditional Method – Open an opportunity at the end of the call.
2. Buying Signal Method – Learn to read buying signs and act on those opportunities.
3. Seed the sale- Add it at the top or in the middle of the call, cash in at the end of the call.

LAMA-tization is what we do: Scripts will be included and customized to your product or service.

Make some type of offer on every single call and watch the sales increase immediately.

We will teach a simple and non-aggressive way for the Customer Service Rep to turn your call center into a profit center.

21st Century Insurance went up by 57% – The LAMA and an assumptive close is all it took.
These methods never fail.

Use Our Program and save time, money and energy.
We created it for fortune 100 and we will bring it you.
It works every time.

All courses are customized and include training workbooks and one-on-one coaching using
The Positive Coach Approach method.

We will customize this course to the situations you have exactly.
Let us give you a program that will be accepted by your Customers, used by your Agents, and
retain your Customers for Life.

Customer Service Relationship Training

“Your CALL is IMPORTANT to US!” No Kidding!
Maximize Key Elements of Customer Care
Learn what to say and how to say it.

A relationship is understanding and engaging in the needs, wants, joys and sorrows of another. It’s not a trick or an entanglement. It may require sympathy and empathy. Learn here how to give those emotions back your customer.

In this course your staff can learn to care for your customer in a whole new way.
The LAMA technique methodology and attitudes will stay with your agents forever.
Agents will:
• Be Confident and Kind
• Show Pride in your company
• Make the customer “Feel right” to do business with you
• The Four Steps to Call Path control
• Your Agents will cut call time and save relationships.
• Save money with the LAMA technique

Use this course to train your agents or your trainers in the LAMA Technique
Making a difference in Contact Center Communication skills is what works!

Communication is a matter of INTENTION.
“Never Make the Customer Feel Wrong or Stupid!”
We will show you how. . .

In one day your agents will have the tools to retain your customer’s loyalty
As well as service the customer’s needs.

All courses are customized and include training workbooks and one-on-one coaching using
The Positive Coach Approach method.

We will customize this course to the situations you have exactly.
Let us give you a program that will be accepted by your Customers, used by your Agents, and
retain your Customers for Life.

Inbound Sales and Retention Training

EASY to LEARN Techniques

These techniques will engage the customer and provide your team with the tools needed to
discover the REAL reason for a cancellation or a closure.

Finally, a Soft Skills Sales training for Inbound Sales and Retention
Your Staff will be able to learn and use the proven LAMA Technique and
START to Bring the Customer back without doubt or fear to:

• Find out the reason for closure
• Engage the customer
• Offer Incentives
• Handle a Cancellation

Master “never making the customers feel wrong or stupid” and Re-Sell the Product or Service

Instead of pushy sales pitches
Resell the Value in the first place!
Don’t just throw money . . .
This is it.
Agents LOVE it!
Management Gets Results!
It Works!

All courses are customized and include training workbooks and one-on-one coaching using
The Positive Coach Approach method.

We will customize this course to the situations you have exactly.
Let us give you a program that will be accepted by your Customers, used by your Agents, and
retain your Customers for Life.