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Effective Communication Part 1

Top 10 Communication Mistakes

Effective communication is the key to success in the customer service industry and in life. As a virtual professional, you do not have the luxury of face-to-face communications with clients, and will have to rely on polished written and verbal communication methods to enact superior customer service and resolve customer issues. Effective communication is divided into two parts: the first is the ability to listen and observe.

Active Listening and Effective Communication

Humans speak between 100 and 175 words per minute, so virtual professionals must listen with a purpose to filter out unnecessary communication and create appropriate and timely responses. Listening with a purpose requires listeners to establish: how to best help the client, show support, obtain directions, and gather information.

Free Your Mind

One major obstacle that will block your path to active listening is your own mind. Virtual professionals must practice listening without thought intrusion as these thoughts compete against proper assessment of what the client needs. There are a variety of mind tricks, meditations, and concentration techniques that professionals can use to ward off mental distractions, so experiment until you find the right one for you.

Build Rapport through Mirroring

This effective communication technique can also work over the phone. Listen to the language the customer uses and imitate it. For example, if a customer is concise and direct, use short and direct language with them. Professional communicators also suggest noting the NLP style the client is using. For visual speakers you might say,” I see the issue.” For auditory speakers use, “I hear what your issue is.” And for kinesthetic speakers use “I feel I understand the problem.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of Effective Communication.

4 Ways to Handle Difficult Customer Service Situations

Communication mistakes

When customer service is at the center of your job, you are bound to encounter a few uncomfortable and difficult customer service situations. Good companies realize that excellent service can’t be derived from a script. But just like best practices for a business, there are best responses to 4 common customer service scenarios as suggested by Help Scout.

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Difficult Customer Service Situation #1: When an Item is Unavailable

Despite the company’s best attempts, sometimes there are hiccups in inventory flow and products become unavailable. When this happens, use positive language. Positive language places focus on solutions. Here is an example:

Negative Language: “We don’t have that item. It won’t be available until next week.”
Positive Language: “I have some great news. That item will be available next week.”

Difficult Customer Service Situation #2: When Transferring a Customer

It is important to transfer the customer quickly to a department or person who can solve the customer’s issue. And be sure to explain why you are transferring them so they don’t feel dismissed.

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Difficult Customer Service Situation #3: When You Don’t Have a Clue

There will inevitably be a problem or question that you don’t know the answer to. When this happens, place emphasis on finding the answer. For example:

Customer: “Does the Deluxe package come with _____?”
Agent: “Great question. Let me find that out for you.”

Difficult Customer Service Situation #4: Angry Customer

When you encounter an angry customer, it is vital that you stay calm.

  • Apologize and Accept Responsibility. Even if you don’t believe the company is at fault.
  • Sympathize. This will show the customer that you take their issue seriously.
  • Assist. Generally it is simple to fix the actual problem. But make sure to fix the ‘emotional’ problem by calming the customer down and ensuring they leave happy.

Deal with Customer Complaints like a Pro

Handling customer complaints is something that every professional in customer service must do well. Often a negative experience can be turned into an opportunity to create a new positive experience that will ensure customers return to your business. Customer Service website, Help Scout, relays 5 essential tips to turn customer complaints into future praise.

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Take Every Customer Seriously.

Treat every customer as if they were a celebrity with access to thousands of fans. This will guide your customer interaction, body language, and words so that you can avoid bad publicity for your business.[/column]

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Recognize and Record Meaningful Customer Complaints.

These are complaints that continuously pop up among a variety of customers over a significant period of time. They may contain some insight into a bad policy or practice that could lead to loss of sales. [/column]

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Transfer Customers Quickly with an Explanation.

Once you’ve accessed what the problem is, transfer the customer to the department or expert that can assist them best. Transferring a complaint is not rude – it is good business sense. Explain to the customer why you are transferring the call so they don’t feel like you are blowing them off. They are more likely to be satisfied with a solution prescribed by the designated department or expert.[/column]

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Drop Formalities.

Customer service research suggests that customers want to feel like they are talking to a person, not a corporation when they have an issue. Why? Because people have the ability to be sympathetic and personable. So approach customer interactions as if they were “chat” sessions as opposed to business presentations.[/column]

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Avoid Overcompensation.

If your business is at fault, ask the customer what they think is fair compensation. Most of the time their solution is less costly than yours.[/column] [/note]

Customer complaints are inevitable. Handle them like a pro with these few tips.

Start Work Now in your Virtual Office

young business man working in a virtual office

Recent trends in customer service show that the use of the virtual office has seen a rise. More than 250,000 Americans work “virtually” from home, preferring low stress home environments and flexible hours over office politics and a set work schedule.


What is contributing to the rise of the work at home (WAH) virtual office?

[column size=”1/1″][note note_color=”#EFEFEF”]Easy Technology.modern virtual office
More and more homes in the United States have access to high-speed broadband connectivity. Technology like printers, video conferencing equipment, high speed computers, and home office suites have become more affordable, so almost anyone can buy or rent all of the components needed for a home office.[/note][/column] [column size=”1/2″ last=”0″][note note_color=”#EFEFEF”]WAH Increases Productivity.
Recent studies have proven that people who work from home are more productive than when working in a traditional office environment. The lack of chatter, background noise, co-worker activity, and supervisor checkups makes virtual professionals more productive in shorter periods of time.[/note][/column]

[column size=”1/2″ last=”1″][note note_color=”#EFEFEF”]Saves Businesses Money.
Virtual offices save businesses money in labor and overhead. A recent business report states that the average mid-sized company can save at least $10,000 per year by outsourcing business functions. These savings are derived from reduced turnover, office space rental, reduced utilities, and more productivity.[/note][/column] [column size=”1/2″ last=”0″][note note_color=”#EFEFEF”]Virtual Professionals save Money.
The boss is not the only who saves money. The average WAH employee will save between $2,000 and $6,800 per year. This savings comes mainly from a reduction in fuel costs and the cost of lunch [1].[/note][/column]

[column size=”1/2″ last=”1″][note note_color=”#EFEFEF”]The Government Loves the Virtual Office.
In a country where municipalities, cities, and states are running out of real estate, the United States government offers tax incentives for telework programs because they don’t require any extra real estate.[/note][/column]

The virtual office needs hard working professionals to assist businesses around the world. These are only a few of the benefits that this booming industry offers. Begin a rewarding career as a virtual professional now.

Get started today.

[divider top=”no”] [1]”Virtual Contact Centers and Home Based Customer Service Jobs on the Rise.” Pajama Jobs, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2014.


Live the Lifestyle Driven Model

lifestyle driven model of success

Ditch the office and join the lifestyle driven model where you work to live; not live to work. Virtual teams used to be a way for companies to reduce overhead. Now more and more employees are demanding a lifestyle driven schedule from their employers. A lifestyle driven model is a schedule that workers personalize to meet their individual needs. The days of working 8 to 5 are over. Now independent professionals have the option to work for any company, anywhere, during the hours of their choice!

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Benefits of a Lifestyle Driven Model

thumbs up to the lifestyle driven model

The lifestyle-driven virtual team is a realistic option for most professional service firms because their work is knowledge based. With the right planning, and equipment, many service professionals can perform their jobs from a home office. At the heart of the virtual team model, is a shift from a focus on billable hour targets, to compensation for employee requested hours [1].

For some, the prospect of not receiving a regular paycheck is enough for them to forgo the virtual team market. However, there are many virtual professionals who earn more compensation as an hourly worker than as a salaried employee. The old traditional billable model, expects employees to work 45 hours or more per week, but the lifestyle-driven virtual model offers more flexibility. And virtual professionals often get to pick their own projects, giving them more power and satisfaction than traditional work. Traditional benefits like paid vacation, pensions, and health benefits are generally not offered by virtual professional services, though more services are offering health benefits.

So the lifestyle driven model provides practitioners with more flexibility, more choices for employment, the opportunity to work from home, the power to choose their own projects, and potentially more money.

Why not learn more about becoming a virtual team member today.

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[1] Lekushoff, Andrea. “Lifestyle-driven Virtual Teams: A New Paradigm for Professional Services Firms – Ivey Business Journal.” LIFESTYLE-DRIVEN VIRTUAL TEAMS: A NEW PARADIGM FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRMS. Ivey Business Journal, 1 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 Jan. 2014.

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