Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Scott Sanfilippo

Creating a Consistent Customer Service Experience

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post comes from Katrina Domkowski, manager of Call Center Operations here at Solid Cactus.  Katrina’s team handles customer service calls for hundreds of businesses who outsource their customer service and administrative duties to our highly skilled, and very friendly, CSRs in our Pennsylvania office.  If you’re considering outsourcing or just need a little extra help during the busy periods, Katrina and her team are ready to help.  Just call 1.888.361.9814 for more information on Call Center Services from Solid Cactus.

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customer service woman smilingCustomers crave a consistent experience, though that is quickly becoming the differentiator as opposed to the norm. In the early stages of business, generally the business owner is responsible for all aspects of the business, including customer service and managing customer interactions. As a small business inevitably grows, a business owner will need to enlist help to continue to manage the business and customer interactions. Help can come in many forms – from hiring an employee, to outsourcing the work to a team of people. When enlisting help – it’s important to encourage consistency across all customer service interactions.

Regardless of the size of the business – to ensure a consistent customer service experience and interaction, a business owner should create policies and processes to be followed. The policies and processes, when thoroughly documented, allows the business owner to hand customer service over to a third party, be it an employee or an outsourcer, all while knowing exactly how each customer interaction is going to be handled.

Most businesses will want a process for, at least, the following situations:

  • Order Status
    • When your customer inquires about the delivery of their order – how should a customer service agent handle it?
  • Returns or Exchanges
    • If a customer wants to return or exchange a product, will the customer service agents first attempt retention, or will an RMA number automatically be given without a second thought of the value prop of the item to the customer?
  • Received Damaged
    • When items are received damaged by your customers – should photos be sent of the damage in case a claim is needed? Does the customer just report the damage and wait?
  • Request for discounts/price match
    • If a potential customer wants a discount or a price match to your competitor’s site – what is the process a customer service agent would follow?

In the above example – a customer calls in to request a return of their order. Without a policy or process in place – Sally Sue may assist the customer by providing a RA number and return instructions, while Billy Bob may try to first try a retention tactic to save the sale; this is an inconsistent customer experience. By creating a basic guide for how each situation should be handled – a business owner is ensuring the same positive customer experience, regardless of who assists the customer.


Quality Monitoring & Why It’s Important for Call Centers

Monday, January 13th, 2014

We are living in a new era- one in which brands and businesses are increasingly defined by the common experiences of their customers. Consumers have long shared advice on purchase decisions, and considered word-of-mouth among the most trustworthy of information sources. But social media and advancing communications technologies have dramatically amplified word-of-mouth. This, along with the fact that the vast majority of these online conversations are happening in public, has forced businesses to become better. The new paradigm is intensely customer-focused: Quality products and services, and attentive customer-service are critical to success.

So, what does this mean for companies that provide customer support through call center services?  Well, simply that having teams dedicated to customer support is no longer enough. Quality monitoring within the call center must be a part of the program. Monitoring isn’t just about spotting problems and dealing with them. It’s also about identifying and amplifying positive messages.  A simple, “please” and “thank you” can work wonders. Agent feedback and active coaching improves the quality of the calls, and helps provide excellent customer service.  Monitoring also increases agent productivity, as well as the chances of customers returning. Call-Center-Services

Here are some tips to providing excellent customer service while on a call:

Maintain patience and positive language.

Language is an important part of persuasion, and people create perceptions about you and your company based on the language you use.

  • Keep a calm, friendly voice, and smile as you’re talking.
  • Tell the customer that you’ll be glad to help them with whatever they need.
  • Show empathy towards each customer’s unique situation.

Stay attentive.

The ability to really listen to a customer is a crucial part to providing great service.

  • Give the customer your full attention.
  • Use the customer’s name.

Practice clear communication skills.

It’s ok to learn more about a customer and build a rapport, but make sure you see to the problem at hand in a timely manner.

  • Write down details, so you can easily refer back to the problem.
  • Read back what the customer said, or the problem they’re experiencing. This shows the customer that you’ve been listening to them.

From the customer to the agents, quality monitoring can benefit everyone in a call center:


  • Improved customer service
  • Personalized relationships
  • Reduced hold times and transfers


  • Effective training and coaching
  • Improved job skills
  • Increased motivation


  • Effective management
  • Sensitivity to service quality
  • Transparent communications


  • Increased loyalty
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Improved productivity
  • Continuous improvement process
  • Reduced training costs

Every agent has different set of strengths and weaknesses. Monitoring helps build on these strengths while improving weaknesses, as well as improving agent performance and customer experience. No mistakes + excellent customer service = happy customers.


Scott Sanfilippo

Is Your Customer Service Department Ready for the Holiday Rush?

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

_thumb_126936My favorite time of the year is almost here!

In just a few short weeks we will be celebrating the arrival of Cyber Monday and the official start of the busy holiday shopping season.

While I’m not quite ready to hear Christmas music on the radio, I am ready for the rush of orders and the excitement that accompanies them. There’s something about a buzzing customer service department and a busy warehouse team that puts you in the holiday spirit!

Keeping those two departments running like a well-oiled machine is critical during this time of the year. Many of the shoppers who visit your eCommerce store during the holidays are probably going to be first-timers. If you give them great service, chances are you’re going to make them repeat buyers. If you don’t, well… your competitor thanks you.

In order to make sure you’re ready to “wow” your customers, I’m inviting you to join me as well as Katrina Domkowski and Donna Werts from our Call Center Services team for a free webinar on Wednesday, October 23rd at 2:00pm ET. Take an hour, pour yourself a cup of coffee and listen in as we discuss:

  • Important dates to consider when putting your holiday schedules together.
  • How to handle increased call volume.
  • The importance of writing customer friendly policies.
  • Tips on up-selling and cross-selling.
  • Information every customer service page should have on it.
  • Benefits of using Live Chat on your website.

Plus, if Katrina and Donna let me, I’ll chime in with some of my own “tales from the trenches” from the past 19 holiday seasons.

I guarantee you the hour will be well spent and by the time it’s over, you’ll have a checklist of what you need to do to make sure your customer service department is ready for the holidays.


When: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 2:00 – 3:00pm Eastern Time
Where: GoToWebinar – Sign up


Webinar Host 
scott-sanfilippo-webinar3 Scott Sanfilippo
Co-Founder & Brand Ambassador, Solid Cactus


Panel of Customer Service Experts 
katrina-domkowski Katrina Domkowski
Manager, Call Center Operations
donna-werts Donna Werts
Senior Sales Consultant, Call Center

Sign up to attend this free webinar today, and I’ll see you soon!

Scott Sanfilippo is Co-Founder and Brand Ambassador for Solid Cactus and has spent the past 19 holiday seasons working with the warehouse and customer service teams at his own eCommerce business.  He’s a big fan of egg nog, the Yule Log on television and still believes in Santa Claus.  Follow him on Facebook and be sure to join him for this webinar.


Blow Off Some Steam: How to Help Unhappy Customers

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Finding techniques that help you disarm unhappy customers and win them to your site is the key to providing great customer service. We all have those bad days  where we take it personally and forget that the customer  just wants their issue fixed. They are asking for help between the frustration.  Here are some tips for those calls:

  • The most important thing is to listen – Do not try to talk over the customer. Give them time to talk, even if you think  that you know what they are going to say next.  You may not have all of the information and be mistaken.  As you listen, it shows the customer that you do care and that you do want to help them.
  • She's yelling! She's unhappy! It's up to you to diffuse the situation.

    She’s yelling! She’s unhappy! It’s up to you to diffuse the situation.

    Lower your voice – If a customer gets louder, there is no need for you to get louder.  When that happens,  it shows them that you are frustrated, and that causes the customer  to get even louder and more upset.  Start speaking more slowly and in a lower tone.  Your calmness will reflect on them and help them to settle down.

  • Build rapport through empathy – Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you can identify with a customer’s issue, it will help calm them down.  Show that you understand and that you care. That your goal is to help fix their issue.  If you say phrases such as: “Yes, I do understand”  “Yes, that can be frustrating” and  “I will be glad to help you resolve this ” you’ll notice a difference. Just a little bit goes a long way.
  • Never get angry or take it personally – Just remember that they want you to help them fix their issue. No matter how much the customer is yelling, swearing, or losing their temper, just take a deep breath.  Remember that the customer doesn’t know you and they’re just venting frustration at you as a representative of your company.
  • Summarize the call – Let the customer know what steps you are going to take to help them . Always tell the customer what you can do.  Never tell them what you can’t do.  The customer does not want to hear phrases such as: “I only work here”  “I can’t do this” “I don’t know.”  They want to hear how you can help them. So instead of being negative, say:  “I will be glad to help you with this” or  “I am so sorry for this. Let’s see what we can do to        fix this for you” or “What I can do is …”

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”  – Jeff Bezos


Customer Service Tips You Didn’t Know You Needed

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

When you're smiling, the customer smiles with you!

When you’re smiling, the customer smiles with you!

A happy, satisfied customer is likely to return to your business and tell others about the good experience they had when dealing with your company.  Word of mouth recommendations from friends and colleagues are very valuable. Let’s look at a few ways  you can make a difference with customers.

  • Smile – Smiles are contagious – If you are talking to somebody on the telephone, then you can still smile! Your voice sounds different when you smile and are happy.  Clients and customers are more likely to want to talk to a cheerful person with an enthusiastic personality, and by smiling while you talk you can help to project this.
  • Make the customer feel welcome – Using an appropriate greeting to make your customer feel welcome is important.  Starting off the call with a positive, warm, and sincere welcome indicates that you are there to help and that you are happy to do so. “Good morning,” and “I will be glad to help you with this,” are just some ways to welcome customers.
  • Attentiveness -   Giving your full attention to the customer and listening is so crucial for providing great service. When it comes to important points that you need to relay clearly to customers, keep it simple and leave nothing to doubt. Repeat to show that you are listening and care and that you want to help.
  • Positive language is a great way to avoid accidental conflicts due to miscommunication. While the actionable change here may be subtle, the effects are quite drastic. Let’s say that one of your products is backordered for a month and you need to relay this information to a customer. Consider the following responses:

Not positive language: “I can’t get you that product until next month; it is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
Positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse.”

Directing the conversation away from the negative aspects and instead focusing on the proposed solution helps customers accept the situation and reduces the odds that they will be upset.

  • When closing the call it is always best to let the customer hang up first. This is a simple courtesy, plus it gives the caller a final chance to add something.  Some positive warm closing statements are:  “Thank you for your order!” Remember to always ask “Is there anything else that I can help you with?” “I enjoyed talking with you.” …There are many positive closings.

Your goal for good customer service is to have the customer leave the call feeling appreciated. Make sure they feel to be a valued and satisfied customer.  The best way to make customers happy is for them to feel like their money is being well-spent, not only on your service, but upon choosing you over competition.  A happy customer is more likely to return and tell friends of the great customer care!

“In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.”Doug Warner