Tuesday, December 4, 2018

How to Respond to Challenging Customers

challenging customers

As the holiday season swings in to high gear, retail businesses and service organizations are likely to see a rise in the number of customers they serve each day – as well as stress levels associated with challenging customers.

The importance of excellent Customer Service cannot be overstated in today’s competitive markets. The reality is that people have many vendors, providers and merchants to choose from when making purchases, and if you want to keep them coming back to yours, you and your staff need to understand why it’s important and how to achieve it.

Let’s begin with the “Why”. Excellent customer service…

• Builds trust – According to business mogul Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

• Is more important than price – 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. (Harris Interactive/RightNow)

• Builds positive brand awareness

• Reduces problems for the company

• Appeals to the customer – 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. (American Express)

As you train your staff to respond to challenging customers, here are 10 principles they need to put into practice:

1. Remain Calm and Listen – You cannot intelligently or effectively respond to someone’s problem without first hearing and accurately understanding it.

2. Empathize and Sympathize – Empathy is the ability to understand and mentally share the feelings of another. Sympathy is the ability to express compassion and sorrow for someone’s misfortune.

3. Agree when possible – Agreement on an issue, no matter how small, puts you in less of an adversarial role and helps to diffuse negative emotions.

4. Remember that others may be watching – Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Strong People Skills = Career Success

People SkillsHaving trouble getting ahead at work? Research reveals that the higher you go on the career ladder the greater the likelihood that obstacles standing in the way of your performance, productivity and advancement are your own problematic behaviors and bad habits. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of those fired from their jobs are let go because of an absence of strong interpersonal skill rather than a lack of technical skill. Therefore, the higher a person goes in an organization, the more significant it is that their people skills (or lack thereof) will ultimately determine how far they will go in their career.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Are You Addicted to Approval?

Did you know that the less compelled you are to prove yourself to others in order to gain their approval, the more peaceful you will feel inside? And the less you worry about whether people like you, the more they will enjoy being around you?

Addicted to ApprovalThose statements seem contradictory at first, don’t they? People who are unable to internalize these truths may actually be addicted to approval.  This addiction is characterized by the irrational belief that your worth, value and significance comes from the approval and acceptance of others.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Good Communication is Worth the Effort!

I hear it sometimes in counseling and coaching sessions: “It’s just the way I am. I say what I have to say and if somebody doesn’t like it, it’s their problem.” This is a common attitude for someone who doesn’t want to make the effort to improve their communication skills. Some people don’t understand why the way they communicate is just as important as what they say – and at times it’s more important.


To illustrate, let’s talk about something that is on many of our minds this time of year – Thanksgiving.  If you are planning a Thanksgiving feast, you have a choice about how to prepare it. You can simply stick the turkey in a pot of boiling water along with a can of green beans and then whip up a batch of instant mashed potatoes and toss a loaf of bread on the table. The end result is, in fact, a turkey dinner. But how much do you think your family would enjoy that meal?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

#1 Marketing Tool: Excellent Customer Service

Customer Service

I never cease to be amazed at the poor quality of service I sometimes receive at restaurants, stores and professional service companies. There is absolutely no excuse for a company to hire and/or retain people who are unable or unwilling to provide excellent customer service. Just this morning it took me over forty-five minutes to complete what should have been a five-minute transaction due to poor customer service.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Keys to Confronting Well – Part I

Most people fear confrontation. The thought of speaking up – especially during a conflict or uncomfortable situation – can be almost paralyzing. However, the ability to effectively confront tough issues by clearly stating what you think, feel, and want can be one of the most valuable interpersonal skills a person can possess. The ten keys listed below can help prepare you for those difficult conversations.

1. Objectively describe your concern

Stick to the facts only when describing your concern or complaint. If you begin by talking about the other person’s motives or intentions, you’re likely to trigger a defensive or angry reaction.

2. Avoid making it personal

Address the action or behavior without attacking the person with criticism, name calling or blame. Negative personal comments can damage your relationship, even into the future.

3. Keep your comments brief and to the point

Reserve the lectures for the classroom because they never benefit relationships. If your goal is to influence positive behavioral change and resolution, less is more.

4. Resist getting sucked into an argument

If your comments are met with hostility, blame or defensiveness, fight the temptation to argue your position. Instead, state what you believe needs to be said and then end the conversation. Arguing is often destructive and will likely make the situation worse.

5. Avoid getting sidetracked

It’s easy for irrelevant or unrelated issues to sneak into a discussion when confronting a difficult issue. Commit to only addressing one concern or complaint at a time, and it will increase the likelihood of an acceptable outcome.

I will share the last five keys to confronting well in our next blog post.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Resolving a Bad Relationship at Work

The average full-time worker with two weeks of annual vacation spends up to 250 days or 2,000 hours each year on the job.  Unfortunately, many employees spend this time interacting with co-workers they don’t get along with, making their work situation almost intolerable.

If you have a problem with a co-worker and you’re growing weary, don’t despair.  Although you can’t guarantee cooperation from the other party, there are some practical things you can do in an effort to turn the relationship around.  Review the tips below to see how you can confront bad work relationships.

1.  Take a good look at your own attitude and behavior first.

Before you complain or point a finger at your co-worker, take an honest look at how you might be contributing to the problem.  Are you letting your feelings make you snappy, over-sensitive, jealous or uncooperative?  Addressing your own negative attitude or behavior can often help decrease the distress brought on by the bad relationship and help you to address the only thing you really have control over – you!

2.  Stop the negative talk about your co-worker.

If you keep talking about the person you have a problem with you run the risk of being labeled as a whiner, complainer or troublemaker.  Gossip or other talk that criticizes or belittles your co-worker also has a way of coming back around and biting you where it hurts.  Take the high road and resist the temptation to spread the problem around the office.

3.  Keep your emotions in check.

Overreacting to a problem often results in a loss of your credibility and can diminish the significance of your complaint.  Make sure you are maintaining emotional balance in your own life by not allowing your frustration to turn into anger and your anger into bitterness.  Use

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leadership Lesson from General McChrystal

I must admit that I have not been very familiar with the career accomplishments of General Stanley McChrystal, but I know that you don’t become a military General unless throughout your career you have consistently displayed extraordinary courage, intellect and leadership.  So I’m confident that many valuable lessons could be learned from studying his life and career; however, it’s sad to say that most Americans will likely remember General McChrystal for the one lesson he never intended to teach.

By now, most people have heard about General McChrystal’s recent White House meeting with the President and his subsequent firing over comments made by him and his staff in a recently published article.  In the article, General McChrystal, the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and some members of his staff were quoted as saying some rather negative things about the current Administration and its handling of the Afghan war.  Regardless of your political party affiliation or personal view of the war, many Americans agree that the General needed to be relieved of his command due to what amounted to blatant insubordination.

I agree with many Americans that President Obama made the right decision in demanding the General’s resignation.  I also believe it could be the right decision for any corporate leader facing similar circumstances with one of their executives.

Is it wrong for employees to voice their disagreement or opposition to a leader’s strategy or plan? Of course not! In fact, the best and most respected leaders expect – and even require – team members to discuss their opposing views and opinions.  This is healthy for an organization when it’s done in an appropriate setting. However, the nature of the comments expressed by General McChrystal and his staff should never have been made in a situation where