Nancy Friedman: Morning Coffee with a Side of Advice

September 28th, 2018 by Katie Brown

Friedman led a fun and informative discussion on how to better customer service.

Friday morning at the International Window Film Conference and Tint Off™ (WFCT) started off with Morning Coffee with Nancy Friedman, also known as the telephone doctor. Friedman has helped hundreds of companies increase their service level through her commonsense ideas, skills, tips and techniques. This morning at WFCT was no exception.

Friedman started off with her winning sense of humor, reminding the crowd that while they were there to have a good time, they were also there to learn.

Friedman said her career began in sales, but she extended her services to acting, radio and television. She thrives in sales, and has dedicated her life to helping people improve their customer service.

“100 percent of my business is sales. I talk to people all day long,” she said.

Friedman said that more business is lost to poor service and poor treatment than poor product. She added that people want to be treated nicely, and they will pay more for better service.

Friedman explained that 20 or 30 years ago she called her insurance company and canceled all her services because she was tired of being treated badly, and decided to do something about it.

“We treat our wrong numbers better than your customers,” she told her insurance salesman.

That very same insurance agency invited Friedman to come and teach their employees about how to treat customers, and she even received a thank you from the company’s president.

Not soon after, a Davenport, Iowa, based newspaper requested Friedman give the same advice to their company. She trained every employee at the paper, even up to the highest management. This is where she was jokingly called the “telephone doctor” for the first time, and it stuck.

Friedman says that no one intentionally seeks out bad service representatives, but, unfortunately, sometimes it happens.

She reminded the crowd that while she is not familiar with the glass industry, she is familiar with their customers.

Friedman asked the crowd to close their eyes for a minute, and stand when they thought the minute was up. This gave the audience a tangible example for what it’s like to put a customer on hold. She said that being put on hold is the second largest inconvenience in America. She went on to say that there are better ways to handle these situations, such as always keeping customers aware of exactly how long it will take to get back to them. Or if it will take too long, offer to call them back.

Friedman advised the crowd to call their own companies and ask for themselves. She surprised attendees by saying that she even made several calls to glass companies before coming to WFCT. She said that companies, especially glass and tinting companies, need to make their customers feel special.

Friedman told the crowd they need to know the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathizing with someone is vastly different that sympathizing. If a customer has encountered a problem, companies might not empathize with them, but it’s critical that they sympathize with the customer. Companies don’t need to say they know how the customer feels, but they can let the customer know that they sympathize with them.

Unfortunately, sometimes companies need to deliver bad news. Friedman told the crowd that the best way to do this is by telling the customer that there is good news and not so good news, but to give the customer the option to choose which they would like to here first.

“It’s all in the presentation. Stop saying ‘I have good news and bad news!’ You need to say, ‘I have some good news and some not so good news.’ It softens it a little,” says Friedman.

However, when the time comes, Friedman told the crowd you need to be able to accept responsibility for your company.

“Be a double checker, this is a good one,” said Friedman. Companies always need to double check when dealing with customers. This not only gives the customer a better chance of getting what they want, but it reminds the customer that you are working for them and are there to help them.

“Hi, how are you?” Friedman said to the crowd. “Four useless words.” Companies need to expand the conversation, and take control of it. “Hi, how are you” is not rapport building, she said, and advised the crowd to expand the conversation to truly connect with the customer.

Building off of that, she added that just responding, “okay” is not how to handle a customer. This shuts down what the customer is saying. She added it is a throw-away word. Erase it with a confident statement.

Similarly, she told the crowd to never underestimate the power of please, thank you and you’re welcome. She remarked that companies need to bring these pleasantries back, and include them in every aspect of business.

Leaving a good last impression is one of the closing tips Friedman gave to the crowd. She advised having a good handshake, not too firm, and letting the customer know you will see them again. With this and other tips, Friedman left a lasting impression on her WFCT crowd.

WFCT runs through Saturday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Stay tuned to for the latest from the event.

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