Customer Service Tips You Should Know

customer support email ticket helpdesk

There are many different types of customer service. All over the world of business, customer service jobs vary. But at its core, the fundamental building blocks that make up customer service jobs remain the same.

Let me share some of them with you. In fact, they are the same strategies we employ with our clients who hire our outsourced customer service management services over at Workaholics4Hire.com.

For one, being a good CSR (customer service representative) takes a certain set of skills. One needs to be able to listen carefully. But it takes more than that.

Don’t Just Listen, Relate

So much of good customer service is about relating to the customer or client in a way that lets them know that you’ve been in their shoes.

You could tell them a story about how you’ve been at the raw end of a bad deal, or let them know that you too have purchased the same product they are buying.

It’s a classic sales tactic!

As a matter of fact, I was in a Wal-Mart electronics department just this last Saturday, when the sales clerk told me he had recently bought the same flat screen he was selling me.

How many times have you seen this? If the top salesman in many industries are using this simple technique, shouldn’t your customer service team use it, too?

Identify Needs, and Fulfill Them Before They Ask

A fantastic customer service agent will always try to go beyond the call of duty. You’ll probably be able to name a few instances in your life when a CSR has done this.

Maybe they talked to their manager and got you a better deal. Maybe they made your refund fast and easy when you expected it to be long and difficult. Or maybe they just made you laugh when you had a terrible day.

In all three cases, one thing is clear: the CSR figured out what you needed, and gave it to you before you asked.

That’s one of the biggest secrets in customer service, and as a matter of fact, all of life.

How do you become a better employee? A better spouse? A better leader? You figure out your beneficiary’s needs, and perform them before they have a chance to ask.

How do you do this? Surely it’s easier said than done?

Well, just look at the signs.

Often times your customers will exude a certain confidence or insecurity when dealing with a problem. They will tell you in so many words what they need, but it takes just that little bit of foresight (usually taken from experience) to make educated guesses and assure them that you’ve got the situation under control. It’s that easy.

Make Them Feel Special

This one may seem obvious, and you’ve probably heard it over and over again in different ways, but it’s a necessary step when it comes to making your customer’s experience truly satisfying.

Make them feel like they’re the only person in the world. It’s romance, really. Just treat them like you’ve known them your whole life.

Not only should you go above and beyond, but you should make sure to reward them for good behavior.

For example; a customer emails in to your support desk and asks a question with a message tone that suggests that he’s annoyed, and the CSR thanks them for the question and says that it’s a great question to ask.

This sounds simple, but it may not necessarily be your first inclination when dealing with especially angry or dissatisfied customers. It will go a long way towards making the rest of that conversation both pleasant and polite.

Remember, the fewer angry customers you have, the happier you’ll be by extension.

Say Yes First, Figure Out How Later

This one I learned from being in retail. Whenever a patron would ask for something that I knew we didn’t have in stock, I would always make the effort to go check in the back anyways, if only to make them feel like there was effort going into their problem.

When someone walks into a store to buy something, they have already begun preparing their life with this item in hand. The less effort you put into finding that item, the more insulting it is to the customer purchasing it.

In their mind, the time they took getting ready, driving over, the gas spent, the decisions made, were all for nothing if you tell them it’s not in stock.

But if you simply assure them you’ll be right back, you just have to go check in the stock room, even if you return with nothing, they’ll be that much more satisfied that at least you gave it a good try.

This applies to customer service in other fields as well.

Let’s say a client asks you to refund a six-month-old purchase, and you know it’s not going to fly. Tell them you will ask anyways! It’ll go a long way towards making the customer feel as though some effort went into their issue, and they’ll be happier with you as a result.

Record Your Praise

This one is more for yourself and your business. When a customer gives you a glowing accolade, or simply thanks you for a job well done, copy it! Copy and paste it into a special folder, and do it before the conversation continues and you forget to capture the positive feedback.

Near the end of your interaction, make sure to ask their permission in quoting them. Nine times out of 10, you’ll get a yes. Asking them makes them feel like not only did you do something for them, but they are returning the favor.

The reality is that this makes people feel better than anything else. More so than the fact that you helped them out, they will tell their friends about how they were able to provide you with a glowing testimonial on your service.

Transferring is Dismissing the Issue

Nothing irritates me more than being transferred many times from person to person, nobody knowing what to do. It is worse than one person trying to help me for an hour, unsuccessfully.

Take that as a lesson from someone on the receiving end of many bad customer service calls: DO NOT transfer a client to another representative until there is truly no other option.

If they emailed the wrong department, try to answer their question anyways! Selectively, of course. Use your own discretion in handling this matter.

If it is in your power to help someone, always try. It will make their experience that much more meaningful. Remember, the worst workers are almost always the ones who refuse a task because it’s “not their job”.

In short, when you receive a support request, own it. Tell the customer that it will be your pleasure to help them today. This alone will go a long way.

Adapt to Their Personality

The salesman’s greatest tool is the ability to gauge a customer’s personality, and adapt to it. Now, that could mean matching a client’s energy and excitement level, or it could mean using a more expansive vocabulary with someone who uses an affluence of words.

This is no different when it comes to customer service.

I used to work with a salesman who could instantly tell what kind of person each customer was, and use that in his sales tactics. It was fantastic to watch! He would walk up, say hello, and from the first couple sentences, pull someone’s attention completely away from what they were doing, and onto the item he wanted them to buy — usually the items that granted the most commission!

It was because he knew how to appeal to their personality.

All it takes to become like that is to pay attention. Be observant. Watch for the cues. Become the Sherlock Holmes of customer service, and use the science of induction to mold yourself into whatever the customer wants you to be. You will see results nearly immediately.

Put a Positive Spin On It

Surely there is no skill more valuable to a CSR than the ability to make light of a bad situation. Some of us know people who are known for their skills in creating a silver lining, where there was previously none.

We could all learn to be better in emulating this. Look on the bright side. For example:

“Mr. Johnson, unfortunately this item is no longer in stock, and it’s also on backorder. You will have to wait up to two weeks for it to come in.”

“Alright Mr. Johnson, I will order that item for you, to be delivered in only 14 days or less, and we will give you a call the moment it arrives!”

Know how to take a negative situation, and turn it into a positive. Where they will expect you to tell them bad news, simply be honest, but in a positive way.

Of course they may still react negatively, as all situations prove possible. But again, it could have been a lot worse had you put a negative spin on it.

Know Your Resources and Use Them

There is no better way to serve customers than to use all your available resources.

Many CSRs, when first starting out in customer service, get a manual to learn. Keep it with you at all times when dealing with your customers. You never know when it will prove useful.

We live in a world of endless, instant information. Use that, too! There have been plenty of times where a customer has asked me a question easily researched, but I will do the research every time because I know that if they asked me, they simply are not willing or able to do it themselves.

It may be a very simple question, but try to use your available resources to answer any question, and solve any problem. It may help you in ways you hadn’t thought of.

Plus, when you find additional resources, make sure to add it to your customer service manual for future reference.

In the end, apply these tips when handling client requests and questions, or teach your customer support staff (like we do with our customer advocates at Workaholics4hire.com), and you’ll see a dramatic increase in sales, reduce in refunds, boost in repeat and referral sales, and glowing feedback and praise you can use in your marketing.

“Do What You Love” Explained

Do what you love and the business will follow

So a lot of people ask me to explain my quote, “Do what you love and the business will follow.” To clarify, it has three different and distinct meanings.

First, if you do what you love, the business (the idea for a business model, i.e., how you can monetize what you love) will come to you. Because your passion for what you do is so powerful, you’ll find a way to make a living at it.

I say this because not everything you love to do can be monetized in its original form. Sometimes, you need to manufacture your business model around it.

For example, you’re in heaven when you’re in your orchard. But being in an orchard doesn’t make money. Selling apples isn’t a profitable endeavour, too, if your orchard is small and you’re by yourself. But you can make and sell apple pies, apple sauces, apple juices, etc.

Continue Reading…

How to Target Your Perfect Customer

How to target your perfect customer

The most important part of your copy is not your headline, not your offer, and certainly not your benefits. The most important part is your customer.

Sounds obvious, right? But in the last few weeks, I’ve been critiquing some pretty good copy. Very well-written and compelling, too. But if the conversion rate is low (hence, the reason why I was hired to do a critique consultation), it’s because these sales letters do not target the right audience for the offer, or the copy fails to connect with their readers.

Researching your customer in depth is vital to the success of your copy. It’s not only an important component of targeting and qualifying the best prospect for your offer, but also an effective way to discover new ideas, different angles, captivating storylines, unsought benefits, and appropriate length and language of your copy that will convert more.

The question is, how do you target and connect with your readers?

Continue Reading…

Dead Copywriters Don’t Tell Stories

copywriting is about telling compelling stories

For over 15 years now, I’ve been teaching the concept of “storyselling,” a term I coined about using the power of stories in the sales process.

It’s nothing new. It’s a technique I learned way back in my early career, especially from one of the most brilliant minds in copywriting and a master at the art of storytelling: Gary Halbert.

Gary passed a few years ago, and I sure do miss the old fart. We used to talk on the phone, sometimes for hours, discussing the industry, people in it, new techniques, and upcoming seminars.

When Gary wanted to make a point, he didn’t state it. He would tell me a story. It often had nothing to do with the point (not at first, anyway), but it drove his point home beautifully, brilliantly, and poignantly. Even now, years after his passing, I still remember the stories he told me quite vividly.

That’s because Sir Gary of Halbert was a true master at telling stories that sell.

Continue Reading…

Take Your Reader For a Drive

Take your readers for as drive

When I critique, edit, or rewrite sales copy, I discover that many clients commit some common errors.

Granted, not all of them are writers. But most of them fail to drive customer actions not because they lack writing skills but because they fail to look at their copy from their readers’ perspective.

Although unintentional, they’re so involved with their business or product that they tend to forget their prospects. They tend to explain things in ways that only they understand. They tend to forget the number one element in copywriting. And no, it’s not the copy. It’s not the offer, either. It’s…

Continue Reading…

The Power of Positive Pressure

Use Positive Pressure to Prevent Procrastination

After my wife passed, I decided to relocate into a smaller home and my current home is up for sale. Moving always reminds me of something that happened when I was shopping for a new home in the past.

Part of the process was furniture shopping. Since we were slated to move several months down the road, I was looking for an extended layaway plan that would help me temporarily store the furniture until I move into the new house.

But something strange happened, which reminded me of the power of applying pressure in copywriting.

After shopping around a few stores, I came across a big chain department store that carried what I was looking for — a bed, a couch, a dinner table, and chairs, all at reasonable prices. (In fact, they were all on special, which was nice.)

I walked in, spoke to a salesperson and asked if they had an extended layaway plan. After I asked him, he used what seemed to be the “good cop, bad cop” routine on me, which is a common sales tactic I’m all too familiar with.

“Let me check with my manager,” he said. He left, spoke with someone in the neighboring electronics department who obviously didn’t look like a “manager.” (In fact, the person seemed like a normal sales rep from the electronics department.)

Five minutes later, he returned, and said:

Continue Reading…

How I Write Copy in Seven Steps

My 7-step copywriting process

A lot of people ask me how I write copy. I don’t mean the actual writing process (such as how I come up with headlines, bullets, offers, etc), but how I tackle the actual task of composing a new sales piece from scratch.

Everyone is different. My writing process is one developed over many years, and many people may adopt or dislike the same techniques. But in the hope that knowing my process may be helpful to some writers, I’d like to share it with you.

Of course, if I were to describe all of the steps, there would be way too much information to squeeze into one article. But for now, I can offer you a basic look at my methodology by giving you a short list of the seven steps I take.

Here they are. Continue Reading…

Mixed Tears

Priya Randell – Tyler Fortin Wedding Video

“I don’t want to tell people because I want tears of joy, not sadness.”

Sylvie said this when she was asked if she wanted to tell people at the wedding about her breast cancer diagnosis just a week before we got married.

Fast-forward 8.5 years later, here we are at another wedding.

My son, Tyler Fortin, and Priya Randell got married in the hospital room before Sylvie passed. The ceremony ended at 11:15, and Sylvie took her last breath at 12:15PM — literally one hour later. It’s as if she held on for this excruciatingly beautiful moment. She even opened her eyes when they exchanged rings.

Obviously, tears of sadness were mixed with tears of joy this time, and we had no choice. (Sorry, Sylvie. There’s no working around this one.)

My son recorded the ceremony and shared it on Facebook. What my son said was so beautiful, I’ll simply quote him below as he explains this highly emotional day.

Priya Randell – Tyler Fortin Wedding Video

This is without a doubt the most emotional piece of film I have ever seen. By now most of you know that my mother, Sylvie Fortin, recently died of cancer at the young age of 45. When she was in her last stages of decline, Priya Randell Fortin and I decided to get married in the hospital, so that my Mom could see it for herself before she passed. I also decided to get this viscerally candid moment on my GoPro camera. What I’m about to show you was filmed on, by far the most emotionally crippling, and transcendentally beautiful day of my life. I have chosen to show this to you, completely uncut. Keep in mind this is also the first time anybody has seen this footage, other than myself. Please join me by honoring the memory of my Mom Sylvie, as she touched myself and so many others, and will be truly, truly missed. I love you Ma, always and forever.

Posted by Tyler Vincent Fortin on Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time to Flip The Light Switch

Time to Flip The Lightswitch

After my wife passed, my grief was compounded by not only the loss of my business partner but also the loss of some major client accounts — and a huge chunk of my income along with it.

An understandable reason for this is that some of these clients prefer to deal with my late wife or fear that I may not live up to her level. After all, it was her baby that she built from the ground up in the last 20 years, and with which she built some very close client relationships.

I get it. I totally understand it. Business is business. Sure, losing clients literally a week after losing your business partner, and being alone trying to learn and take over everything, is not easy.

But while I may appear to be in my darkest moments, I’m actually relieved, strong, and determined. Why? Because I remember something Sylvie would often say when it came to dealing with her cancer and her refusal to “fight” the disease:

“Don’t fight the darkness, just turn on the light.”

I keep that quote firmly in mind when confronting obstacles, and remind myself this is also a perfect opportunity. After the initial shock, I started to realize that it allows for a few things:

  1. Starting fresh and getting new, longer-term clients.
  2. Working with clients who will appreciate my work ethic.
  3. Having more time to market my services to find such clients.
  4. Being forced to move into a smaller, more economical home.*
  5. Allowing me to travel more to speak at seminars.
  6. Making me more proficient at managing staff and a whole new business model.
  7. Redirecting my focus on marketing rather than running my businesses.

*By the way, my house is now up for sale in Orleans, Ontario. If you’re interested in a beautiful, hardwood-laden, three year-old, three-bedroom single home, contact Frank Tessier at the Tessier Property Group.

It was a friend of mine who recently noted: “Michel, you lost your mom two years ago, your dad two months ago, and your wife last month. You have literally become an orphan and a widower in one month!”

(Now, let’s not forget that I also became a grandfather and a father-in-law in that time, too! I guess I became a lot of things in such a short period of time.)

Anyway, I never thought of myself like that until then. It made me realize the implications, which was the fact that my life has dramatically changed — and will continue to change — in such a short period of time. But I refuse to accept darkness. I find a way to turn on the light.

Thinking like this is not some “secret” or Pollyanna attitude. Attitude is indeed important, but you’re not trying to wish or visualize the positive in your life. You still have to work at finding the lightswitch and flipping it, so to speak.

In that sense, and besides relocating, I have new goals going forward:

  • Blogging a lot more and writing new articles,
  • Redesigning all of my websites and updating them,
  • Competing in more powerlifting meets,
  • Recompositioning my body (tightening up a few areas like my stomach),
  • Repurposing some of my older or not-as-relevant businesses,
  • Spending some quality time with my grandson,
  • Getting back into playing drums in a band, and
  • Conducting a fundraiser during Breast Cancer Awareness Month called “Barbells For Boobs” in honor of the Sylvie Fortin Memorial Fund.
Deadlifting and powerlifing

Deadlifting and powerlifing at Hostyle Conditioning in Orleans.

Before I go on, let me assure you that I’m still grieving. I have my moments. But moving on, finding ways to be more productive, and redesigning my life are all things that Sylvie would have wanted.

She is still my beacon. My reminder that, no matter how dark life gets…

… There is a lightswitch somewhere.