My family had an annual ritual of picking and freezing beans. My mom and dad grew their own vegetables every year, and we all pitched in to help.
One year, we were in the middle of putting all the clean, cut beans into little freezer bags when my mom screamed, “Stop!” In the middle of one box, the bags were not marked with the word “freezer.” Not putting the beans in “freezer” bags meant freezer burn!
My dad found the company’s 1-800 number and proceeded to call. Now I started screaming because I knew no one would have any inkling what he was talking about. I begged him not to call. I told him we could just use another box, but he insisted on finding out if the beans were going to be safe.
As he started talking to the woman, he began nodding, taking a bag in his fingers and rubbing it, engrossed in the conversation. What could she be saying to him? Was she laughing hysterically?
After he hung up the phone, my dad told me what happened on the call. Instead of responding with “how would I know?” or “I don’t work in the plant, get another box,” she was explaining to him in a very positive way that by feeling the weight of the bags he would be able to tell if they would be safe for the precious beans or not. She was positive about the situation and had a very caring tone.
Because she framed her response in such a positive way, my Dad felt great about his conversation and that company. I on the other hand felt ashamed that I had urged him not to call. The lesson for me was that a positive tone and words in just one simple response make a huge difference for the brand, the staff member and the customer.
My recommendation is to evaluate the tone and words used with every customer interaction and eliminate the negatives because we are all the voice of the brand at that moment when dealing with customers. It takes a little practice to frame negatives into positives but when the right words and tone come together, it’s a win-win.
P.S. The beans were the best ever!
Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.
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