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In This Issue
Why Customers Get Upset
Empathy: Putting Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes
Apologies and Buffers: Turning Challenges into Opportunities
Save the Dates for the 2014 Power of 3 Workshop!
SCS e-xpress


September/October 2013

A Message from Sarah & Chris:                          

The theme of this issue is "dealing with difficult situations."
  

In our personal and professional lives, we are often faced with interactions that are difficult to handle. By becoming familiar with  effective techniques to deal with such difficulties, we are able to facilitate better outcomes.  A few simple steps can help you turn challenging situations into win-win opportunities. 

 

We hope you enjoy our free SCS e-newsletter.  Please send us your ideas and suggestions for future issues.  Have a great day!  

Where We'll Be

    
National Harbor, MD
10/27/13 - 10/30/13
  
New Orleans, LA
03/23/14 - 03/25/14
  
Savannah, GA
04/23/14 - 04/25/14
  
Wolters Kluwer Retirement and Benefits Customer Conference
Chicago, IL
08/03/14 - 08/05/14
Today's Quotes

 

 

  

"The greatest gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy."  

      - Merrill Streep, actress

 

 

"No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

        - Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

"Never ruin an apology with an excuse."

        - Benjamin Franklin

 

 

"An apology is the super glue of life.  It can repair just about anything."

        - Lynn Johnston, cartoonist

 

 

"A grandmother pretends she doesn't know who you are on Halloween."

         - Erma Bombeck

 

 

 

Today's Laughs

  

If you are watching Garfield on TV, and suddenly feel an equal hatred for Mondays...you might be an empath.   

 

If you are playing softball, manage to slam a home run, but spend time hugging everyone from the other team...you might be an empath. 

 

www.unexplained-mysteries.com

 

                  *************

 

Teacher: George Washington not only chopped down the cherry tree, but he also admitted it and apologized.  Joey, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
  
Joey: Because George still had the ax in his hand?  
  
                  ****************
  
What do skeletons say before they begin dining?
Bone appetit!
  
  
What do you get when you cross a vampire and a snowman?
Frostbite!
  
  
Why don't mummies take vacations?
They are afraid they will relax and unwind.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

                                                          

  
     Why Customers       Get Upset

Many customers we deal with on a day-to-day basis are pressed for time and have a business to run or a job to do.  They don't enjoy spending time discussing their retirement plan, and they especially don't like dealing with problems related to the plan.  Customers today also have a refined palate for customer service and expect to be treated exceptionally well.  In most situations, customers we deal with are friendly, understanding, and tolerant.  However, things can go downhill fast when something upsets them. 

 

So why do customers get upset?  The top three reasons are:

 

1) Expectations were not met;

2) Someone was rude or indifferent;

3) No one listened. 

 

Think about times when you are the customer.  It's probably these same things that  press your own hot button. 

 

From reason #1 above, we learn that we must set clear expectations for our customers.  These expectations can come in the form of service standards, deadlines, response times, etc.  If something gets in the way of our meeting those expectations, we should immediately give the customer a "heads up" so we reset the expectation. 

 

Reasons #2 and #3 remind us that customers want to feel valued and respected. If we listen attentively and with empathy and show care and concern as we work through the issue at hand, a customer relationship can be saved.

 

For a good laugh, check out this clip from a favorite Seinfeld episode where his service expectations were not met. 

                                                       

Empathy

Putting Yourself In Someone Else's Shoes

 

When customers are upset, they usually need two things. First, they need to "vent," and then they want their problem solved. As a service provider, it is important to recognize that until you let the person express their feelings, you will not be able to move on and solve the problem.  You must deal with his or her emotions first before you can begin to apply logic to the situation.  One of the worst things you can do is ask customers to "calm down" while they are venting.  It's best to remain quiet and listen attentively, listening "between the lines." Then it's time for patience and empathy!

 

Empathy requires you to acknowledge the other person's emotions and see the problem from the other person's perspective (i.e., putting yourself in their shoes).  You can respond at first by saying things like, "I understand why you feel that way" or "I hear what you are saying."  Next, you can show support by adding, "I'm happy to help you" or "I'm so glad you brought this to my attention. I know we can work together to get this resolved."  As you work through the issue, it's important to let the customer know what will be done to resolve the issue and set the time expectation. If a mistake was made by someone at your firm, it is also important to let them know what will being done in the future (i.e., change in process or work review) to make sure it doesn't happen again. 

 

Handling difficult situations also requires you to keep your cool while the customer is venting.  Don't take what the customer is saying personally.  Know your own warning signs - clenched jaw, tight shoulders, pounding heart, feeling flushed, etc.  You can arm yourself with "props" to help keep you calm when you feel your own anger kicking in.  Keep a photo on your desk from a great vacation so you an focus on it or have a stress ball or small desk ornament handy that you can "play with" while you are listening to the customer to help you keep calm.  If we stay calm and take the time to listen carefully, an unhappy customer can be a great source for learning how to improve our products and services.  

 

Click here  to learn more tips to help you win over a difficult customer. 

                                                         

Apologies and Buffers
Turning Challenges into Opportunities  
 
When customers are upset, especially if mistakes were made or they feel as if they've been "wronged," they usually want to hear an apology.  Apologizing when you were not the one at fault can be difficult for service providers, but there are ways to do it so that you can give the customer the apology they need to hear without admitting guilt yourself.  Apologies go a long way towards calming an upset customer, and so do statements that "give them permission" to be upset.  After apologizing and validating the customer's feelings, you will be more successful in taking the next steps to resolve the customer's issue.  Here are a few sample statements you can use:
  
"I'm so sorry this happened to you." 
"I'm so sorry the report was late. You have every right to be upset." 
"I'm sorry about this. I understand how frustrating this must be."    
  
"Buffers" are statements that can be used to compliment the customer, to show them you value them as a customer, or to put forth something on which you can both agree.  Buffers are very effective following an apology and can be a great way to repair a damaged relationship.  Here are a few examples: 
  
"I'm so sorry your report was late.  You are one of our best customers and always get your information in on time." 
"Thank you for being so patient and understanding while we worked through this issue together."
"I agree with you that this new electronic signature process is confusing.  Let's step through it together." 

Even when things go wrong, you can learn to turn challenges into opportunities by taking the time to repair and strengthen customer relationships during difficult situations. 

 

Want to learn more tips and techniques for dealing with difficult situations?  Let SCS come onsite to deliver a customer service workshop.  

                                      powerof3        

   
SAVE THE 2014 DATES!
 
The 2014 Power of 3 Workshop will be held once again at the Andaz Hotel in Savannah, GA.   Workshop dates are April 23 - April 25, 2014, with a Welcome Reception on the evening of April 22.   
 
Watch for more information by email notification or visit our Power of 3 website.  Registration opens mid-November.

                                                

What our Customers are Saying...
 

"Chris and Sarah are great teachers! The workshop was a good combination of technical teaching and customer service training.      I really liked how they related their experiences to our day to day work."

        - Professional development workshop attendee 

 

"The customer service training was especially good (compared to other training we've had) because the case studies and exercises related to 'our world.'"

       - Professional development workshop attendee

 

Power of 3 Retirement Industry Update Workshop
   
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