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Guest Column: Jeff Mowatt

When customers ignore you: five tips that cost nothing

May 27, 2014
By Jeff Mowatt


Remember the days when people noticed good customer service, talked about it, and most importantly, rewarded you for it?

Remember the days when people noticed good customer service, talked about it, and most importantly, rewarded you for it? Happy customers would return and spread the word. In today’s fast paced world, ahowever, people are so rushed moving to the next thing or so distracted by their mobile devices that good customer service is often overlooked. Fortunately, as I share in my seminars, there are several easy things you can do that your customers will actually notice that will enhance your service and that will boost your business. Best of all, they cost you nothing. Here are five for starters.

Be the voice of reason
Here’s an insider secret I discovered when clients started bringing me in to assess and offer feedback on their call centres. You can generally tell within 10 seconds whether the service rep will calm the customer or irritate them. It’s not what the employee says; it’s the sound of their voice when they say it. Employees who have thin or high voices, mumble, or add useless words (ya know, kinda, sorta, fer sure) garner less respect from customers than those who are more articulate. Conversely, when you lower your tone and enunciate – by crispening-up your consonants and rounding-out your vowels – you’ll be perceived as more reasonable and intelligent. By watching your language you’ll transition in the customer’s mind from being merely a clerk or order taker into becoming a Trusted Advisor.

Show off your homework
Today’s customers are so busy trying to juggle the demands of work, home, family, finances, and errands that they are amazed when someone goes to the trouble to do some homework and find out about them. So, before a client meeting, spend a few minutes doing a web search on the customer and the company. Start the conversation with a few comments along the lines of, “I read that you have…” or “I noticed on your website…” It’s a wonderful way of demonstrating your intelligence while focusing on the customer. In the customer’s mind that makes you brilliant.


Listen loudly
Customers are impressed by your knowledge: not your product knowledge per se: that’s taken for granted. Customers are more impressed by your knowledge of their unique individual needs. Today’s customers are assaulted by information coming at them: tweets, emails, sound bites, and micro-ads. That means you’ll be noticed more if you are a good listener rather than a smooth talker. It’s not enough to just listen to customer needs and then offer solutions. You need to be perceived as listening. Fortunately, this is as easy as saying two words after your customer explains their needs: “Sounds like…” Starting your comments with these two words forces you to paraphrase your understanding of their needs. It’s also a great lead-in to expressing empathy, as in, “It sounds like you’ve had a frustrating time trying to fix this.” You’ll be seen as someone who truly gets your customer. That’s listening loudly. And customers do notice.

Make time shrink
Imagine a customer or co-worker asks you to send them information that might normally be sent the next day. You could say, “I won’t be able to send it to you until tomorrow.” Or perhaps, “I’ll send it first thing in the morning.” Contrast those responses with, “You’ll receive it within 24 hours.” The 24-hour statement sounds like a stronger commitment because it’s specific. And it sounds faster because you’re talking hours, not days. By changing your wording you appear to make time shrink. Customers will take notice.

Close the loop
In attempting to grow our businesses we are often so focused on gaining more customers that we neglect those we already have. A case in point is when we deliver a product or service without any followup. Closing the loop can be as simple as leaving a 20-second voicemail message with the customer stating that you’re making a courtesy check-in call to ensure that everything’s OK with their purchase. Heck – forget 20 seconds – the next time a co-worker sends you an email request, once you’ve completed it, take five seconds and reply to their email with one word. “Done.” Again, you will be noticed.

Bottom line: These tips for getting noticed by customers and coworkers simply require a few adjustments to the way employees communicate. It isn’t complicated. o

Customer service strategist and professional speaker Jeff Mowatt is an authority on The Art of Customer Service…Influence with Ease. For more tips, visit

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