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25 Reproducible Activities for Customer Service Excellence

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Areas covered include: the customer's first impression; customer paradigms; listening to the customer; finding out who the customer really is; how rumors get started and spread; the importance of telephone greeting messages; dealing with telephone tag; telephone communications; understanding what the customer really wants; characteristics of successful customer service; customer service diseases; developing your personal improvement plan; personalities of potential buyers; types of customers; customer complaints; tips for selling your product or service; positive and negative words; winning and losing the customer; logic vs emotion in selling. Make it easy for employees to provide great customer service with this collection of motivating and skill-building activities. Every topic critical to customer service is addressed in five convenient parts: Communication; Phone Power; Customer Service Skills; Customer Service Strategies; Achieving Results. The fun and easy-to-use activities incorporate exercises, questionnaires, quizzes, facts, role plays, philosophies, characterizations, profiles, assessments, strategies, surveys, matrices, and other tools. Most can be completed in 15_30 minutes.

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1 The Customer’sFirst Perceptions

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1

The Customer’s

First Perceptions

PURPOSE

To demonstrate the many different ways that customers might perceive the service you provide.

DESCRIPTION

Several basic principles of communications are presented concerning how people receive messages from others. Participants are asked to identify how a customer might perceive their greetings to them and the first perceptions and impressions they might create.

TIME

20 minutes

RESOURCES

Handouts 1.1 and 1.2, and pencils for each participant

PRESENTATION

1. Review the principles of communications found in Handout 1.1 with participants.

2. Distribute one copy of Handout 1.1 to each participant and two copies of

Handout 1.2.

3. Divide participants into triads (groups of three). Arrange for each group to be able to work either in a room by themselves or in a large enough room that they will not disturb one another.

4. In each triad, instruct one person to be the customer service representative and the others to play the role of the customers.

5. The person playing the customer service representative should begin the exercise by saying “Good morning/afternoon. How can I help you today?” to the customers. The other two participants playing the customers should then complete

 

2 Customer Paradigms

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2

Customer Paradigms

PURPOSE

To introduce the concept of paradigms as it relates to customer service.

DESCRIPTION

In this activity, participants are presented with a description of a customer and are asked to share their paradigms concerning their perceptions and expectations. They are then presented with additional information about the customer and asked how their paradigm might have changed.

TIME

25 minutes

RESOURCES

Slide 1 and Handouts 2.1 and 2.2

PRESENTATION

1. Review the definition of a paradigm shown on Slide 1.

2. Read the story found in Handout 2.1 to participants.

3. Ask participants what their paradigm is concerning this customer based on the information presented in Handout 2.1.

4. After participants have shared what their paradigms are of this customer, read them Handout 2.2.

5. Ask participants how their paradigms might have changed based on the additional information learned in Handout 2.2. Also ask how the customer’s paradigms might have changed as a result of what happened.

6. Discuss how many of our paradigms may be based on incomplete or even incorrect information as was the case in this story.

 

3 Listening to theCustomer

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Handout 3.2

Customer Service Listening Test

1.

An important customer calls and places an urgent order that must be delivered by

9:00 o’clock. You put in a rush order to the warehouse requiring them to work overtime to fill the order on time. However, when the customer receives the order, they refuse to accept it because it is 12 hours late. You are confused because you believe that you and the warehouse did everything possible to meet the customer’s deadline. The customer insists that he made himself clear to you when he placed the urgent order.

How could this have happened?

2.

A company orders from a supplier a small part that they need and that requires a defect rate no greater than .00001 when it is produced to keep the manufacturing costs at a minimum. The supplier seemed somewhat confused by the way this order was placed, saying that they usually don’t produce work at this defect level.

Why did the company still place this order?

3.

A customer places an order for the following:

500 of model X300f234

 

4 Say It Again

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4

Say It Again

PURPOSE

To demonstrate that how something is said has a dramatic effect on what meaning people perceive the message to be.

DESCRIPTION

A question is to be repeated by participants a number of different ways, each time giving it a different meaning.

TIME

15 minutes

RESOURCES

Handout 4.1

PRESENTATION

1. Introduce the activity as a communications exercise that demonstrates that how we say things is usually even more important than what we say to customer.

2. Ask participants to take turns asking the question, “Can I help you?” Each time, the participants should give this question a different meaning, as described in

Handout 4.1, based on the way it is said.

3. Discuss with the group the importance of how things are said and the message that is really sent in their dealings with customers.

4. Emphasize the importance of being aware of not just what you say to a customer, but how you say it.

5. Note that this activity supports the information presented in Activity 1 and could be used as a follow-up to the exercise described in Handout 1.2.

 

5 Finding the Customer

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6 Rumors

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6

Rumors

PURPOSE

To demonstrate how rumors get started and spread throughout an organization.

DESCRIPTION

The activity includes an exercise called Rumors. Rumors is played in a similar manner as the children’s game typically known as the Telephone Game. In the Rumor Game, a participant is presented with a “rumor” to read and is told to tell it to the person sitting next to him or her. Each person is to then take their turn spreading the rumor to the other participants.

TIME

10 to 20 minutes depending on size of class

RESOURCES

Handout 6.1

PRESENTATION

1. Tell participants that you are going to start a rumor.

2. The participants in the class will simulate an organization, and the information contained in Handout 6.1 will be a rumor that is being spread.

3. Give Handout 6.1 to one of the participants in the exercise, allowing this person a few minutes to read and understand the information contained in it.

4. Take back Handout 6.1 and instruct the person who read this information to whisper what he or she read to the person seated next to him or her.

 

7 Learning to Listen

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7

Learning to Listen

PURPOSE

To emphasize some of the many obstacles that people experience trying to become better listeners.

DESCRIPTION

A brief summary is presented concerning barriers to effective listening. An exercise follows that tests participants’ ability to listen to what a hypothetical customer is really saying.

TIME

30 minutes

RESOURCES

Handouts 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 and pencils for each participant

PRESENTATION

1. Review information presented in Handout 7.1 with participants.

2. Review Handout 7.2, Seven Steps to Better Customer Listening.

3. Introduce Handout 7.3 as a listening test.

4. Break participants into two-person teams. Have one person read Handout 7.3 to the other participant.

5. Instruct the “listening” participants to take notes as suggested in Handout 7.2 to better understand what this customer is really saying. Encourage the listeners to ask for clarification and follow the other advice found in Handout 7.2 during the exercise.

6. Have participants switch roles on their teams.

7. As a group, discuss how well participants did in improving their listening skills and using their extra time to better focus on what the customer has to say.

 

8 Greetings

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8

Greetings

PURPOSE

To emphasize the importance of the telephone greeting message you leave on your answering machine or voice mail box (VMX).

DESCRIPTION

The topic of recorded telephone greetings that participants might leave on their answering machines or VMXs is reviewed. Participants are asked to develop new greetings as part of the activity and critique one another’s greetings.

TIME

40 minutes

RESOURCES

Handouts 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3; pencils for each participant; and an audio cassette recorder

PRESENTATION

1. Begin the activity with a discussion concerning the increasing use of telephone answering machines and voice mailbox systems and ask participants to share their experiences with this popular technology.

2. After participants have had a chance to exchange “war stories” about their experiences and frustrations with answering machines in our electronically programmed world today, present Handout 8.1

3. Review with participants Handout 8.2, Getting the Message, which lists suggestions for creating more effective recorded telephone greetings.

 

9 Telephone Tag

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Handout 9.1

Telephone Tag

Have you ever played telephone tag with someone who you really needed to talk to?

You know the game: You leave a message that you called on someone’s answering machine. That person hears the message and tries to call you back, only to get your answering machine, and leaves a message that they got your message and tried to return your call. Now you are playing telephone tag and you are “it.” You try to return the call and, guess what—you get their answering machine. Now the other person is

“it.” This cat-and-mouse game can go on indefinitely until one of the following happens:

1. One of you forfeits the game and stops trying to return the call.

2. You resign yourselves to communicating with one another via your answering machines and give up any hope of direct communications.

3. You, by some miracle, actually make direct telephone contact with one another.

The problem is that sometimes, by the time you do get the opportunity to talk

“live” to one another over the telephone, you forget what it was that you wanted in the first place!

 

10 Telephone Messages

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Handout 10.1

Telephone Message Skills

1. Make sure you identify yourself, your organization, and the time/date of your call.

2. If the message is important, prepare and practice what you are going to say. Make notes or even write a script of the message you want to leave.

3. Be brief and get right to the point. Remember you only have a limited amount of time to leave your message. Avoid having to leave a second message to say everything you are trying to tell the person; make it all fit into the same message.

4. State the purpose of your call. Leave the details and/or specifics of your call in an easy-to-follow order.

5. Do not repeat yourself. Remember the receiver has your message on tape and can play it back if necessary.

6. Do not try to accomplish too much in a single message. Keep it simple. Simply introduce what you want to discuss or your purpose and follow up later when you are able to talk directly to one another.

7. If you are requesting information, briefly state the nature of what you are asking for so that the receiver can be prepared to respond when he or she returns your call.

 

11 Telephone Listening

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11

Telephone Listening

PURPOSE

To illustrate the importance of listening when talking to a customer on the telephone.

DESCRIPTION

This activity provides information about the influence of voice inflections concerning the messages that we send and receive when talking on the telephone.

TIME

20 minutes

RESOURCES

Slides 2 and 3; Handouts 11.1 and 11.2; and two chairs that can be placed back-toback in the front of the room

PRESENTATION

1. Review with participants the information on Slide 2. Note that this information was also found in Handout 1.1 concerning customers’ perceptions.

2. Ask participants what they think happens concerning these percentages when talking to a customer on the telephone.

3. Distribute Handout 11.1 and show Slide 3 and review the information indicating that 88 percent of the actual message received over the telephone is based on voice inflections.

4. To demonstrate this, ask two participants to role play a customer and a customer service representative or salesperson talking on the telephone. To simulate the lack of nonverbals when using the telephone, place two chairs back-to-back for the participants to sit on so that they cannot see each other. Have participants hold their hands to their ears as if on the telephone.

 

12 Phone Skills

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13 Customer Reflections

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13

Customer Reflections

PURPOSE

To introduce a customer service skills technique called reflections that allows participants to better understand what the customer really wants.

DESCRIPTION

The concept and skill of using reflective communications with the customer is presented. Participants will practice this technique and learn how to use this concept to help not only themselves, but the customer better understand what he or she really wants concerning customer service.

TIME

30 minutes

RESOURCES

Handout 13.1

PRESENTATION

1. Introduce the activity by asking participants if they have ever worked with a customer who didn’t understand what he or she really wanted and ask them to share some of these experiences.

2. Introduce the concept of reflections as a technique to help customers better understand how to identify what they really need concerning the service participants can provide.

3. Review Handout 13.1 with participants, explaining the concept and application of reflective communications techniques.

 

14 Characteristics ofSuccessful Customer Service

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14

Characteristics of

Successful Customer Service

PURPOSE

To share a number of characteristics or traits of successful customer service.

DESCRIPTION

A list of 10 Characteristics of Successful Customer Service is provided. Participants are given a self-assessment tool based on these characteristics and are asked to set goals in each of these areas.

TIME

30 minutes

RESOURCES

Handouts 14.1 and 14.2, and access to a copy machine

PRESENTATION

1. Review Handout 14.1, 10 Characteristics of Successful Customer Service, with participants.

2. Encourage discussion of these characteristics, asking participants to share their ideas and perspectives on them.

3. Make a copy for each participant of Handout 14.2, Characteristics of Customer

Service Self-Assessment.

4. Distribute copies of the self-assessment to each participant and have them complete it.

5. Encourage participants to set goals for themselves concerning these characteristics.

6. Suggest that participants keep this self-assessment for future reference to measure their progress toward reaching the goals they established.

 

15 Five Steps to BetterCustomer Service

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Handout 15.1

Five Steps to Better Customer Service

Step 1

Contact

This is sometimes the hardest step of all in providing better customer service for a number of reasons. First of all, with the busy work schedules that most people have today, just contacting a customer can be a significant accomplishment. However, the challenge does not end at this point. You also need to make contact concerning the customer’s interests and requirements. You will have little time to make a positive first impression in your initial contact and probably not be given a second chance to accomplish this goal.

Step 2

Relate

It is important to understand and relate to the needs of the customer. You won’t be very successful trying to fit “square pegs into round holes.”

Find out what is most important to the customer and how you can provide this service. Relate to the customer’s needs, not your own.

Step 3

Partner

Establish a partnership in your working relationship with the customer. In partnerships, both parties’ best interests should always be kept in mind.

 

16 Customer ServiceDiseases

PDF

Handout 16.1

Customer Service Diseases

1.

Status Quo Syndrome

Symptoms: Person is satisfied with the way things are presently done with little or no interest in improving the quality of service provided to the customer.

Cure: Set both short- and long-term goals for improved customer service.

2.

Yak Yak Syndrome

Symptoms: Person does a great deal of talking to the customer, but with very few results achieved.

Cure: Talk less and listen more. You have two ears, but only one mouth—this should tell you something!

3.

Give Up “It Is”

Symptoms: Person is easily discouraged from trying to positively influence the customer’s buying decisions. Accepts the first “no” without exploring why the customer came to that decision.

Cure: Build more self-confidence through increasing your knowledge of the product or service you provide.

4.

Routine Foot Dragging

Symptoms: Person has no drive or enthusiasm and is just going through the motions.

Cure: Become interested in providing customer service and perform the job with enthusiasm or find something else you would be interested in doing for a living.

 

17 Buying Personalities

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17

Buying Personalities

PURPOSE

To describe a number of types of traits or characteristics that might be observed when dealing with customers.

DESCRIPTION

Various profiles of personalities of potential buyers are described in this activity. After each personality is presented, an action plan is provided for dealing with that type of buyer.

TIME

25 minutes

RESOURCES

Handout 17.1

PRESENTATION

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that there are many different types of people and personalities that we encounter when we deal with customers.

2. This activity is designed to review a number of the general traits or characteristics of these diverse personalities that participants might encounter as they provide service to the customer.

3. After reviewing each of the buying personalities, as described in Handout 17.1, discuss each suggested action plan with participants.

4. Ask participants to share their experiences with the group and offer any advice they may have on how to deal more effectively with these various buying personalities.

 

18 Who’s the Customer?

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18

Who’s the Customer?

PURPOSE

To review some of the potential problems that exist in identifying who the customer really is.

DESCRIPTION

Examples of ways that the question “Who’s the Customer?” might be confusing are presented. Participants are asked to share their experiences dealing with this question.

TIME

20 minutes

RESOURCES

Handouts 18.1 and 18.2, and pencils for each participant

PRESENTATION

1. Introduce the activity by asking participants if they have ever had a problem identifying who the customer is.

2. Present the “Who’s the Customer?” model as illustrated in Handout 18.1.

3. Ask participants to provide real life examples of each of the buying types as described in Handout 18.2.

4. Discuss how gaining a better understanding of these various types of customers and their influence in the buying process can help participants provide better customer service.

5. Ask participants to identify each of the types of customers described in Handout

18.2 using the dog food example from Handout 18.1. Ask the group who is the

 

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