Tag Archives: style

Are Your People Robots or People?


I am an on-line shopper out of necessity. I really like to go “shopping” into stores and malls, but I am time-poor, so it’s shopping on-line a majority of the time.

Recently, I purchased a large item from an on-line retailer and was not satisfied when I got it. They make the return very easy and ask you to complete a lengthy satisfaction survey about the product: Will you shop with them again? Will you recommend them? Was the experience fast and efficient? Did you encounter any challenges?, etc. I completed the survey and was quite happy with everything until I had to call. That’s when this experience “went South”.

Because of the extensive survey that I completed and the ease of ordering and returning, I was expecting a great phone experience. After all, they look for customer satisfaction in the survey and ask a number of questions around it. So, I was very disappointed when I encountered an uninterested and bored person at the other end of the phone. What happened to all the hype? Was this only the marketing department creating a great website with exciting phrases and cute slogans? Where was the enthusiasm for helping me figure out the return process with a large item?

I knew she was bored, because I could hear it in her voice. We always say, “It’s what you say and how you say it.” And this couldn’t be truer in today’s electronic world. When you do have to speak to a person, wouldn’t it be nice if they were engaged, excited to speak to you and help you? I think so.

If you manage people, listen for how they interact with your customers. Do they take the opportunity to fully engage customers with their tone and their own personal style, or could they easily be mistaken for robots? This can be a very subjective area, but it’s one that can set your organization apart, one conversation at a time.

Listen to yourself, too. Are you smiling when you talk in person or on the phone? Do you put some enthusiasm into your voice, no matter what conversation you are in? Or could you be a robot?

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Positively Speaking – It’s All About How You Say It


birdMy 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!

Your thoughts?

Johanna Lubahn is Managing Director of Call Center Services for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.