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Data Driven Decisions

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Thursday, November 2, 2017

By Ernie Hartong, ARCSI Executive Director

 

Thank you to the 131 people who submitted data for our 2017 Benchmarking Survey. I am a firm believer that data driven decisions are most times, if not always, better decisions. This year’s survey cannot only help you make decisions for your business, but also helps our staff make better programming decisions.

 

Here are a few highlights:

  • 56% of the respondents had gross sales of less than $500,000, and 18% were over $1 million, numbers which certainly reflect the ARCSI, A Division of ISSA membership.
  • 35% of the respondents reported a growth rate of more than 10% in 2016
  • The largest number of respondents came from the south region, 43%
  • 34% of the respondents have more than 200 repeat clients
  • Only 39% reported a formal training program with testing
  • Not surprisingly, the top business challenge was recruiting & retraining quality employees
  • 65% of the companies that reported a turnover rate of less than 10%, pay $13-$15 per hour

The downloadable version of the complete survey is available in the ARCSI Online Store. It is 30 pages of data and information that will allow you to see how your business compares to the rest of the industry and can help you make better data driven decisions.

 

This and That

 

Thank you gain for everyone who helped in making our 2017 Show and Convention a success. The new “Residential Pavilion” received rave reviews from the attendees and the vendors. Mark your calendar now for Dallas, October 29 – November 1, 2018 and plan to bring your Halloween costume. Remember, everything’s bigger in Texas!

We are nearing the end of our first year with our merger with ISSA. I believe it has gone well and we have been able to provide members with additional resources and we certainly have received great staff support from our colleagues in Chicago. Their help will allow us to launch several new programs in 2018.

 

Send me your comments regarding what you would like to see us do new in 2018, or improve upon with our existing programs. We can’t fit it, if we don’t know about it. Email me at ernie@issa.com.

 

See you in Tucson in April!




P.S. Halloween is the best time to have grandkids! 

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Pricing Is a Critical Component for your Business

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

“If you don’t get the pricing component correct, you will suffer in your business,” Debbie Sardone told attendees at the October 10 Hot Topic Tuesday from ARCSI, A Division of ISSA. Debbie is a leading expert in the cleaning industry, starting her business Buckets and Bows out of the trunk of her car and growing it to one of the largest maid services in the country. Her global consulting business, The Maid Coach, also helps maid service owners get where they want to be in business.

 

You need to do your research Sardone told the audience because “pricing is definitely geographical.” That means there is no standard pricing for the industry. Pricing will vary depending on where your business is. Sardone said that unfortunately, “with a lot of companies, their pricing does not reflect their area of the country.”

She stressed the need to make sure owners are “fully aware of the prices in your area.” She suggested calling around and getting some quotes so you can compare your prices to your competition.

 

But, as a member of ARCSI, A Division of ISSA, you have joined the ranks of the professional community. What does that mean for pricing? Sardone urged owners to stop comparing their prices with the cheap underground community. “If you are truly a professional, compare yourself with other professional companies.”

 

As a professional cleaning company, Sardone explained that the pricing formula will be a little different. As a professional, your prices will be higher because customers will be paying for your experience and your expertise.

 

If you missed Debbie’s Hot Topic Tuesday, you can download the call from the ARCSI online store as soon as it’s available. All Hot Topic Tuesday calls are available for free download by members in the store. Check out many of the past calls and discussions that you may have missed.

 

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Thank You to Our Show Volunteer Team

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“There is no ‘I’ in team, but we sure are glad there is ‘u’ in our volunteers!”

 

Image result for volunteer quotesIf you have ever been to the ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America Show (previously known as the Cleaning Convention), you know just how busy and overwhelming it can be. Hopefully, to the attendees’ eyes, everything goes as planned – speakers start on time, evaluations are distributed, registration runs smoothly, the booth is manned, etc.

With only three people on the ARCSI staff team, getting everything done that needs to be done if quite literally impossible. In come our wonderful, talented and generous volunteers! Without their help, our well-oiled machine would run like car with wooden wheels, which is to say not well.

 

 We want to be sure we recognize the many attendees that pitched in this year – your contribution is truly appreciated!

 

2017 ARCSI Show Committee

  • Amy Wiggs King
  •  Mitch Baker
  • Roger Borges
  •  Vicki Brown
  • Kim Galbraith
  • Suzanne Hayzlett
  • Marlo Kanipe
  • Yusuf Mehmetoglu
  • Coreen Recob-Merry
  • Tanya Schoepflin
  • Warren Weiss

 

2017 Show Volunteers

  •  Gosia Baran
  • Gemma Beylouny
  • Molly Bloomquist
  • Paul Fried
  • Kim Galbraith
  • Kim Graham
  • Michael Grecky
  • Suzanne Hayzlett
  • Marlo Kanipe
  • Asha Patel
  • RJ Patel
  • Greg Smith
  • Sharon Tinberg
  • Pamela Trickett
  • Amy Wiggs King

 

Thank you to our volunteers! We couldn’t do it without you!

 

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At the Show!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Tuesday, September 12, 2017

By Erin L. Lasch, CAE, Director of ARCSI Communications

 

This week, I am at the Show. What does that mean? It means that we are living and breathing ARCSI and INTERCLEAN 24 hours a day this week. We come together with our cleaning counterparts and put together what we hope is a quality education program filled with ample opportunity to network with your peers.

 

We focus on education, knowledge, training and learning. We want our members that attend this event to have clear takeaways when they leave. We want our attendees to be able to identify what it is they learned, how they can take it back with them to their business and then use it immediately.

 

To that end, we have great speakers. We have Nancy Friedman kick off the 2017 Residential Cleaning Connection track at the 2017 Show talking about the “forbidden phrases.” What are the things you should never say to a customer????? You would know if you were here. In another session, Pam Washington didn’t even have standing room left. Attendees were sitting on the floor and lined up in the hallway to hear her session and learn how to build their dream business. We closed the day with our roundtables, beginning with one large roundtable lead by Liz Trotter. The topic – hiring! Hiring is a huge concern for this industry and during this forum, attendees were able to ask questions and get answers and ideas from lots of other attendees.

 

Does that education sound valuable? You better believe it does!

 

Now let’s talk about the other side of the Show – the networking, connecting and fun! Our attendees have a strong bond with each other. They have put their hearts and souls into their businesses and they have a genuine affinity for those who do the same. They are like family. They come to the Show every year to visit, reconnect with old friends, make new contacts and build relationships.

 

The Show every year is more than a conference. It’s almost like a “family reunion on steroids.” So when I say I am at the show this week, I am at the Show. I am helping to put together the education and networking events so my ARCSI family has a place to come together!

 

If you missed the Show this year, make a promise to yourself to come next year! You won’t be sorry you did.

 

See you in Dallas!

 

 

 

 

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Handling the Irate, Sometimes Abusive Caller

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, August 25, 2017

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert, President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

 

If your job entails taking calls from unhappy, irate callers, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Employees who deal with callers are especially vulnerable to outbursts from customers who are going through an emotional, stressful time.

 

Handling this type of customer takes time and training, but it can be accomplished effectively. Here are some of the Telephone Doctor’s best techniques for turning unhappy callers into satisfied customers.

 

Get Off on the Right Foot

 

Realize that upset angry customers are not unhappy with you, but with the situation. Don’t take a caller’s hostility personally. You are merely the rod that redirects the violent lightning. You can do a great deal to diffuse a caller’s anger before you ever pick up the phone. How? By smiling before you answer that call. You can really “hear” a smile over the phone. It’s very difficult to be rude to someone who is warm and friendly.

 

Anatomy of a Hostile Call

 

There are four basic steps to handling an irate caller. Telephone Doctor calls them our ASAP techniques.                                                           

 

A - Acknowledge the person’s feelings and apologize for the inconvenience the customer has encountered. Make an effort to be sincere. In today’s impersonal society, it’s incredibly rare to hear the words, “I’m sorry that happened. Let me get the ball rolling to fix it.” You’ll probably spend about 80 percent of your time massaging the caller’s feelings and 20 percent solving the problem.

 

S - Sympathize and empathize with the caller. Phrases like “I can understand why you’re upset” can help soothe ruffled feathers. Pretend it’s are calling. Then get busy solving the problem.

 

A - Accept 100 percent responsibility for the call.  Don’t worry about the fault.  This is probably the toughest part. Chances are excellent that you had nothing to do with the problem. However, it’s your job to take the responsibility and help initiate a solution.

 

P - Prepare to help. Begin by re-introducing yourself – callers don’t usually remember your name. State that you will be able to help. Use the caller’s name, if possible. This helps to diffuse anger. A willing attitude is essential, because if the caller senses insincerity or indifference, it will cause them to stay angry. It’s exasperating to file a complaint with someone who obviously doesn’t care.

 

Excuses

 

Never make an excuse to a complaining caller. No one wants to hear “The computer is down” or “I’m the only one here.” Or “We’re short staffed” That is your problem, not the caller’s. When you give an excuse, the caller automatically hears “I’m not going to help you

 

Transferring Calls

 

Sometimes you’re not able to solve the problem on the spot. Many times, you need more information from another department. Perhaps the call needs to be handled by another person. Although these are legitimate courses of action, they usually upset your caller all over again.

 

If you need more information, TELL the caller. Ask them if they’re able to hold while you obtain it, or would they prefer a call back. “Joe, I need to check with our claims department to answer your question. It will take two or three minutes, are you able to hold/wait while I check?” Avoid untrue, frustrating phrases like “Hold on a second.” Nothing takes a second.

 

If you need to transfer a caller, if you can, let them know the name of the person they’ll be speaking with. It’s also good to explain a reason why you’re bringing in a third party. “Joe, Mrs. Smith in our claims department is the real expert in resolving your type of situation. May I transfer you directly to her?”

 

The ASAP technique works! Try it and see!

 

# # #

 

Nancy Friedman, is back by popular demand this year, speaking at ARCSI.  She will also be speaking at ISSA this September 2017 as well.  Her formula for customer client success has been proven over and over, with her ideas, tips, skills and techniques.   She is the spokesperson in the popular DVD and on-line training platform, www.serviceskills.com.   Nancy is the author of 9 books on Customer Service, sales and communication skills.  She can be reached at 314 291 -1012 or www.nancyfriedman.com or nancy@telephonedoctor.com  Follow her at: Nancy Friedman, Speaker on LINKED IN, TWITTER @telephonedoctor and Telephone Doctor Facebook and receive her daily customer service tips.

 

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The Value of Training and Certification Programs

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Instead of fancy branding, invest in training.

 

By Cloud Conrad

 

Conrad, CloudOne of the many benefits of membership in ARCSI is that it seeks to elevate our industry’s image and, in turn, its members in their marketplace. Members enjoy a halo effect, but without continuing to deliver value to consumers that glow may fade. Continuous value delivery, through professionalism and expertise, validates the services we provide as a critical component of quality of life for families everywhere.

 

How might we offer continuous value delivery to improve quality of life?

 

In my role at Maid Brigade I have researched customer preferences using various means over several years. And there’s one point on which all survey data is consistent: the Number One criteria people seek when they choose a cleaning service (and the Number One criteria they evaluate their cleaning help on) is consistent quality.

 

It’s not really a surprise, is it? Maybe your own research supports this finding. If not empirically, you probably know it anecdotally. More than one prospective customer has probably told you that the reason they are interviewing cleaning services is that the one they just fired started out great, but the quality deteriorated over time. Maybe, sadly, you’ve heard this from a regular customer asking to have her key returned.

 

Why does this happen? Cleaning services consistently train new hires when they come on board. Most use the same training with every one of them. The cleaners, new or old, are given the same supplies every morning at send-off. They are instructed to perform the same regular tasks from visit to visit. They are evaluated using the same form every time. They approach customer homes the same way on every visit. Pricing may even be based on the assumption that homes are in the same condition every time, but history shows that most homes are not in the same condition or have the same sorts of soils, in the same spots, from visit to visit. And what two customers have the exact same combination of surfaces in their homes anyway?

 


Several years ago, one of our employees did not notice, or realize the importance of the fact, that the tile shower she was cleaning had a marble seat and threshold. She used the normal acid based tile cleaner. It etched the marble on the seat and threshold. We hired someone to polish out the damage and satisfied the client, but it cost $700 to do so. A better understanding of surfaces would have saved us considerable money and hassle.


 

So, how does a cleaning business owner equip their staff to deliver consistent quality when there are so many varied cleaning challenges to overcome in the course of a day? How can you know with certainty that your staff can make the right game-time decisions to uphold your reputation, one cleaning visit at a time?

 

Motivation, mentoring, and measurement are all contributing factors to reliably delivering consistent quality. But, as in many other scenarios, knowledge is power. Mastery is the truly elevating factor because it is internal to the employee to draw from at the moment of truth – all others are constructs you create back at the office.

 

Certified results.

 

For house cleaners to achieve professional results regardless of what cleaning challenges they encounter in any given home, they must achieve mastery. Recognizing different surfaces and soils and understanding how to leverage chemistry and equipment to work efficiently and effectively based on these combinations is essential to consistent quality in a very inconsistent environment.

 

Many cleaning business owners don’t possess this knowledge and even if they do, they don’t have the time to share it in a way that translates to predictable results and consistent customer ratings. Plus, the rate at which new home flooring, counter top, wall and appliance materials enter the market is accelerating, meaning that training content is dynamic – regular review and revision is necessary to keep pace with trends in materials.

 

The value of giving the house cleaning technician the knowledge and power that advanced skills training provides is significant and worth the time, energy and lost revenue that thorough training requires:

 

PRODUCTIVITY – no wasted motion, supplies or time

 

REDUCED LOSS TO CORRECT MISTAKES – the better skilled the cleaners, the fewer the re-cleans, repairs and replacements

 

MORALE – money talks, but studies show that employees get personal reward from a sense of mastery

 

MOTIVATION – employees are attracted to the elevated status that advanced training creates

 

REDUCED EMPLOYEE TURNOVER – your investment in employees (the good ones at least) breeds loyalty and those who have the opportunity to enjoy mastery tend to also be the sort to gladly share their knowledge with others on the team.

 

EMPLOYEE REFERRAL – happy employees invite their friends, neighbors and relatives to apply when you have job openings and best of all, they vet these applicants for you

 

CUSTOMER REFERRAL – consistent staff boosts consistent quality, which makes customers happy, happy customers talk, and referred customers are usually your most valuable

 

A story worth telling.

 

People seeking work in our industry have many options these days. All other things being equal, job seekers will gravitate to places that offer skills and advancement (at least the ones we’d all love to hire). Therefore the well-planned, well-executed training program deserves its place in marketing communications.

 

Our research also indicates that most customers today want to support businesses that treat their workers well. Training programs expand a cleaning company’s ability to resonate with these socially conscious consumers.

 

The media cares about what consumers care about. Supporting hard-working people by offering them the opportunity for free advanced skills training is a happy news story and might draw some positive attention if packaged correctly.

 

Member resources.

 

Numerous options are available for ARCSI members when it comes to professional training and certification for the house cleaning technician. Invest in pre-packaged training modules after comparing different offerings. Be sure to look at the scope of each program to make sure it is as thorough and inclusive as possible. It’s a big undertaking but combining existing programs or creating one from scratch is possible if you find that no existing solution(s) are adequate for your needs.

 

By committing to a training program that includes certification, continuous value delivery really is possible while contributing to the improvement of quality of life for the consumers of residential house cleaning service.

 


 

Cloud Conrad is VP of Brand Strategies at Maid Brigade, a franchised house cleaning service with locations in the US and Canada. She is an ARCSI member and is Vice-Chair of the IICRC Technical Advisory Committee for the House Cleaning Technician certification exam. Prior to joining Maid Brigade in 2003, she spent two decades in account strategy and media planning for marketing and advertising agencies. She lives outside Atlanta GA.

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The Importance of Family Meetings

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, August 11, 2017

By Henry Hutcheson, Family Business USA

 

Working in a business is tough. Employees are trying to get ahead, develop their skills, and impress their boss. Most likely they are competing with a co-worker for advancement. At the same time, managers and owners are trying to develop and execute successful strategies while trying to groom their employees. And this whole dance occurs in an environment of aggressive competitors, choosy customers, and margin-squeezed suppliers.

 

Now imagine that this business is a family business with a mom, dad, son, daughter, son-in-law and maybe a nephew, all with different skills, life goals, and relationships with each other. No wonder over 66% of all family businesses don’t succeed to the next generation.

 

As Steve Forbes stated at a CEO Forum, communication is the key to success for any family business. Family Meetings are one of the best ways to improve communication in a family business. Here are some simple guidelines for family businesses to improve communication by holding effective family meetings.

 

1)      When in doubt, include everyone

Clearly you include the family members in the business, regardless of their role. Yes, maybe the cousin is working on the factory floor, or maybe your sister is only part time. You also need those who are not working in the business, but are directly related, and spouses. Exclusion can create animosity and suspicion, and partners are typically the closest confidant, and strongest influencer, to the working family member.

 

2)      Start with developing a code of conduct

The purpose of the code of conduct is to lay the ground rules of how the meetings will take place to ensure that everyone gets a chance to be heard, and that behaviors that impede communication are left outside. The key to an effective family code of conduct is that it must be created from scratch by the family members themselves.

               

3)      Active listening

Many people think this phrase means to pay attention, but that is only part of the definition. The other part is to prove it.  This is done by paraphrasing back to the speaker what you think you just heard and asking them if they understood correctly. This does not mean you necessarily agree with them. But without knowing they have been heard, the discussion grinds to a halt. The Harvard Program on Negotiations includes active listening as a core module.

 

4)      Hold meetings regularly

They can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. But the important thing is for everyone to know when the next meeting will occur.  Left open-ended family members with issues to discuss can feel that others want to avoid their topic, and animosity can build towards whoever is responsible for scheduling the meeting. Either have a regular schedule or schedule the next meeting at the end of every meeting.

 

5)      Plan the meeting

Be sure to allocate enough time for the meeting, give everyone a chance to put their item on the agenda before the meeting, and leave time for open discussion. By doing this, everyone can be assured of getting a chance to speak and be heard.

 

6)      Facilitator

Family meetings can become awkward if there is a disagreement. Other family members will jump in, or get dragged in, and try to resolve the impasse with good intentions. Unfortunately, this usually results in the feeling that “people are taking sides”. Moreover, as the designated or default coordinator has some power, suspicion of their true motives can exist. An experienced facilitator who has no vested interest in the outcome can help keep family meetings on track.

 

7)      Incorporate some fun

It doesn’t have to be much, but something that reminds everyone that we are here because we want to be, not because we have to be. You could begin each meeting with each person recounting an interesting encounter since the last meeting. Or ask an amusing question to answer: What five foods would you want if stranded on an island, etc. Everyone can answer or you can simply rotate turns at each meeting.

 

Family meetings are a great way to improve communication in a family business. Some thought and planning are required to be effective, but they are indispensable to the success of the business and the family.

 


 

Henry Hutcheson is the founder and president of Family Business USA, He grew up working for his family’s business, Olan Mills Portrait Studios. Henry has spoken to family business groups across the county, has been a family business columnist for three newspapers, and his work has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers including Forbes, Fortune, Inc, and the Wall Street Journal. Henry will be leading two sessions in the Residential Cleaning Connection package at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN Trade Show and Convention in Vegas. Click here for more details.

 

 

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Employee Engagement… It Begins with You!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, August 4, 2017

By Don Phin

 

What are the costs of disengaged employees? Poor service, poor attitudes, and high turnover for starts. Then throw in weak work comp claims, lawsuits, negative Glassdoor reviews and brand damage.

 

A professor at Boston University, William Kahn, kicked off the discussion about employee engagement in a 1990 management journal article. He said engaged people are mentally, physically and emotionally involved in their work. 

 

Mind, body and soul all working in harmony. That’s engagement nirvana. And the key to a great bottom-line.

 

Encouraged by what they were learning, leaders looked to engagement to increase an employee’s productivity by generating “discretionary effort.” 

 

In 2000 Gallup began using their enormous survey resources to track worldwide engagement numbers. And I must tell you…it’s not a pretty picture. In surveys since then less than one third of employees have considered themselves engaged. 

 

That means two out of three people go to work every day simply to collect a paycheck… and many hate their jobs. For these people work is a life draining affair…and it has far reaching consequences. 

 

I am sure you and your employees are a lot like me. I feel engaged in my work when I am clear about the goals, I’m good at what I am doing or I am learning something new, I work with great people, in a great environment and I produce great results. 

 

I look forward to doing that work because it is energy giving, not energy depleting. 

 

This means my goal as an owner or business leader is to provide the opportunity for an engaging work experience. That’s the culture we want because as Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

 

Engagement Begins with You

 

I believe this: no professor can tell you what engages employees at your company better than you can. And nobody has a larger impact on the company culture…or engagement …than you.

 

What experience have you had with engaging bosses? What was is it about them that inspired you? What motivated you to take action and become more engaged in the process? When I facilitate this in live presentations I get back a similar set of responses. I am told these engaging leaders were:

  • Passionate
  • Highly skilled
  • Inclusive
  • Good listener
  • Challenging
  • Strong values
  • Vision

Chances are my list and your list have many similarities. This is not rocket science. We can also do a list of the characteristics of demotivating, uninspiring and disengaged bosses and those lists would match as well.

 

So…how do you rate yourself as an engaging leader?

 

Being an engaged leader is a choice. One we make every day. When you look at the characteristics of the engaging leader how would you rate yourself? 

 

I have often done an exercise with the executives I coach. I'll do it with you now. On a piece of paper write down the answer to this simple question: what 3 things would people like to see you change about your leadership style? Invariably the response I get is spot on. You probably already know what people want to see you change about yourself. My question is what is your resistance to it? Do you maybe need coaching or training? Are you running too hard to feel what is going on?

 

Solicit feedback

 

Success is an inside-out job. As the good Buddha said, “what comes to you comes from you.” Be not afraid and solicit honest feedback…if you truly want to improve:

  • What do I do that is engaging?
  • What can I do that is disengaging?
  • Be open and listen
  • Be thankful
  • Be thoughtful
  • Let them know what you will do

Conclusion

 

In a future article, I can write about engaging “them.” For now, the place to begin is with you.

 

Don Phin is an attorney, HR catalyst and trainer. He just launched a Lynda.com training on Employee Engagement. You can learn more about Don at www.donphin.com where you can get his Tip of the Week and free tools. Don is one of ARCSI’s speakers for the Residential Cleaning Connection package at the 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN Trade Show and ISSA Convention. Phin will talking “Master Human Resources Like a Boss” in a two-part session. For complete details, visit arcsi.org/show.
 

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What Gets You Up in the Morning

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Monday, July 31, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 31, 2017

 

By Ernie Hartong

 

One of my colleagues recently attended a conference where one of the discussions put a new twist on an old theme. Instead of “What keeps you up at night” they chose to talk about “What Gets You Up in the Morning!” It got me to thinking about my eight plus years with ARCSI. There have been a lot of reasons to get up in the morning. It starts with our over 600 members. Talking with members each day and learning about their successes or pointing them in a direction to help solve a problem still gets me “jazzed up”. It’s about the passion for what I do. Fortunately, throughout my career I have had that passion for what I was doing most to the time. When the passion wasn’t there I knew it was time to move on.

 

So my question to you is, Do you still have that passion when you get up in the morning? Do you get excited about what you can do for your clients that day? Do you look for ways to help your employees grow and improve each day? If you don’t, you are just going through the motions. I will argue that just going through the motions will never produce desired outcomes, either for your business or your personal life. 

 

The merger of ARCSI with ISSA has reignited my passion. As we explore and develop new opportunities and programs for our members the sky is the limit. We now have the resources to do things we were not able to do in the past and that is exciting. 

 

So I challenge you to give it a try. Instead of worrying about what keeps you up at night, focus on what gets you up in the morning. Ask that same question to your staff, the answers may give you a whole new insight and perspective on what is really important. 

 

See you in Vegas…..

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Words That Drive Customers Away – KILLER WORDS OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Friday, July 14, 2017

By Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor, Customer Service Expert

 

We call them conversation diverters. Just as ALWAYS and NEVER are. Customer and friends doubt you with those words. 

 

Killer words help make your customers and your potential customers veer away from the real point of your conversation. 

 

So best we eliminate them from our routine and vocabulary. It’s not easy to do. If it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it…and we know everyone isn’t doing it. 

 

Here are 5 of the top-rated killer words. There are more. Remove them and watch the scene go smoother.

 

1. “No Problem.” – The Customer is thinking, “When was I a problem?” Believe we can thank the ‘islands’ for this one. When we take a cruise and ask for anything, what’s the first thing the waiter says? Right, “no problem.” 

Well on the cruise it may be okay; however, back home it should be the GOLD STANDARD of “you’re welcome,” “my pleasure,” “happy to help,” and a host of other ways to let the customer know you’re glad to do that. 

“No problem” appears to be a big problem with your customers. Lose it. It kills the conversation.

2. “Our computers are so slow.” – Big excuse. Everyone’s computer runs slow occasionally. When you complain about your computer it’s perceived as though, you’re complaining about your company. And perception is reality. Take the time to say, “This might take a bit longer than I’d like it to. Tell me about…” and then ask a benign question that will take time and let the customer talk. 

While most people do understand slow computers, they don’t like it. It kills the conversation. 

3. “Calm Down.” – Oh man does this one make the hair on the back of their neck stand up. In any movie or TV show I’ve watched lately when someone is told to “calm down,” the next words are, “Don’t you tell me to calm down.” 

There are times when the client may need to vent. Your job is to listen and come in at the appropriate time with sympathetic and empathetic wording. You telling a customer how to handle their actions isn’t a great idea. Get rid of the expression “calm down.” 

4. “It’s not our policy.” – Ouch! Okay, okay, most every company has policies and it’s something we need to deal with daily I’m sure. What is not necessarily is blurting it out first and foremost to the customer. 

The policy should be rephrased so it starts off in a more positive way. We like to say, “rejecting gently.” And rephrasing policies are a good way soften the blow and explain in a more TLC way what will happen.

Next time you find yourself saying, “That’s not our (their) policy.” Stop. Regroup and reword. Buffer it with, “Let me see what we can do. Normally the policy of the company doesn’t allow last minute changes.” (The request MUST be re-stated so the customer hears you’re going to go to bat for them.) However, we can sure tackle this. Let me double check.”

What happens is sometimes when we go back on behalf of the client, it works. And then sometimes it doesn’t. But at least we double checked. And we didn’t just slough it off with, “I’m sorry. It’s not our/their policy.”

5. “Yes, but…” – Hmm what’s wrong with that? We all say it. Well, what’s wrong with that is the minute we say “yes, but,” the client knows something negative is coming. 

If you have ever said, “I love you so much, but…” There’s a condition coming, isn’t there? Here’s one way to change that: “Yes, we can do that. There is, however, a $50 additional fee.” Doesn’t that sound better than, “Yes but…”? 

 

Most people have phrases and sayings they don’t like or that aggravate them. Keep a list of your killer words (along with ours) and avoid them.

 




Nancy Friedman will be the ARCSI Featured Speaker, September 11 at ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America 2017 . Come to hear her attention-grabbing session, “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Customer Scorned.” With her high energy, Friedman is the perfect choice to lead off the ARCSI Education Conference. 

 

Nancy Friedman is president of The Telephone Doctor Customer Service, which offers online training modules on customer service, customer loyalty, communications, internal customer service, sales training, management, and leadership programs. For more information, visit www.telephonedoctor.com.

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