Why Your Company Should Be Branding on the Internet

How Strategic Branding Can Help your Business

One way to stand out from the competition and make a mark on the internet for your business is through strategic branding. You’ve likely noticed branding via offline platforms, which is when companies use a tagline or some other identifying tactic to keep the brand in the mind of consumers. Think about some of the billboards you pass on a typical day, for example. However, branding on the internet is an entirely different game.

With so many different choices on methods for branding online, it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true ways to brand online that will benefit your business and not cost you much out of your overall marketing budget.

  • Develop a Street Team

Street teams originally started out as a way for the music industry to promote artists, but has developed into a method that all types of businesses use. About 33 percent of consumers say they trust a message from a company, which isn’t great, but 90 percent of consumers trust a recommendation from someone they know, even if they just know the person in passing.

This is where your street team comes into play. You should have a database of fans who will go out and tell others about your company and products. This can include social media influencers, people who have been customers for many years and brand ambassadors who you send free products in exchange for their word-of-mouth advertising.

Red Bull utilizes a street team/brand ambassadors to get the word out about its product. The way it has implemented its strategy is to have tiers within the team all the way down to student ambassadors who will recommend the product to their friends.

  • Content Marketing

91 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing to promote to potential clients, making it one of the most popular B2B online marketing methods. You’ve probably heard that content is king, and in some ways, this still holds true.

However, you have to ensure the content speaks to your target audience and provides some value to them. Gone are days where businesses could keyword-stuff a page, drive traffic and find success. Today’s savvy business owners expect and demand value for their time.

  • Make Connections

Small businesses need a convenient way to get active online and begin building that brand image. One key thing is figuring out how to connect with other small businesses, but statistics show that businesses with better listings receive as much as 347 percent more searches than those with subpar listings. A company called Manta helps with Google AdWords placement, figuring out SEO for local listings, social media timing, online reviews and preparing for mobile search traffic.

One example of a company using this platform is Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services. The company specializes as a developer of industrial sites and office buildings, so the ability to connect with other businesses is a real help.

  • Social Media

Get everyone in the company versed in how to use social media to promote the business and then allow those who seem to be savvy to promote on your behalf.

Studies show that leads that are generated by employees via social media are about seven times more likely to have high conversion rates. The key is training employees on what to say and what not to say or to simply ask them to retweet and share.

  • Customer Service on Social Media

Every day, there are 2.1 million negative social media posts about U.S. brands, which means people are very likely to go online and voice their complaints. Since your goal is to please your customer and show others you care about your customers, it is a smart move to hire customer service specialists to handle social media complaints. The reps simply reach out to those complaining and offer to fix the issue.

JetBlue airlines is an excellent case study of how to use social media to respond to your customers in a pleasing way. When customers complain, it immediately responds, asks for flight info and provides an update.

  • Persistence Pays

A person has to see your branding approximately five to seven times before they remember it, as a rule of thumb. Of course there are exceptions to that rule, but it goes to show that you need to put your eggs in more than one basket when it comes to online marketing. Think about where your target demographic hangs out online. If most of them are on Pinterest and a specific crafting site, then that is where you’ll advertise, as well as by using AdWords with a similar keyword range.

  • Mobile-Friendly Emails

The number of people using mobile devices to access emails has risen by 180 percent over a three-year period. With more and more people using their mobile devices to get online, it is a smart practice to take those emails you’ve collected and send out a message here and there. You can offer stories about your company, discounts, free shipping, customer testimonials, etc.

Groupon sends out emails several times a week that are segmented to offer specials that particular group of subscribers would be interested in. This highly targeted form of advertising has been quite effective for the site. Those emails are also mobile friendly and can be easily read on a personal computer or a smartphone.

If your company isn’t focusing on branding online yet, then you can see why it is vital that you do. You can easily expand your customer reach by doing online marketing. The key is to be smart about where you spend your marketing dollars. Even though online marketing is a fraction of the cost of traditional print advertising, you can still waste a lot of money if you don’t go into it with a very specific strategy and marketing plan.

Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She enjoys researching the latest design trends and always has a cup of coffee nearby. She manages Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner

What Your Chat Feature Should Offer and How to Deliver

Customer Chat Tips & Features

Live chat has quickly become a top feature that consumers expect out of a website experience. As of 2017, 48 percent of consumers prefer to communicate with a business via a live chat than any other form of communication. However, just having a live chat feature and delivering an amazing experience via live chat are two totally different things.

The same study discovered that people don’t mind if the chat is conducted through a chatbot or artificial intelligence (AI) as long as they get the help they need and have a good experience.

There are some key things your chat feature should offer, whether you are staffing your live chat with real people or with computers. Nail these seven items, and your chat feature will be much more effective than you thought possible.

Key Customer Chat Tips & Features

  • Offer Support, Not Hard Sales

Your chat support should be just that — support. If you use every single opportunity to just try and hard sell, you are going to turn customers off. Your focus should be on how you can help the customer rather than on how they can help you. Yes, you are in business to sell things, but the customer who takes the time to live chat is already interested in buying. Your job is to make sure they have all the information they need.

This also means you need to be strategic in where you feature your live chat option on your website. For example, it should be on the landing page, but do you really need it on your About page?

Customer Chat Tips

A good example of a site that does chat support well is Aid in Recovery. It has a chat at the bottom of the landing page that reads “Need help finding a rehab? Chat anonymously with a live agent.” The chat is available 24/7. Since people landing on the site are likely wanting help, this is an excellent use of the live chat option — placing it front and center.

  • Email a Follow-up Transcript

Carefully choose your chat software so you can keep a transcript of conversations. Customers may have multiple questions about your product or services. By the time the conversation is over, they may forget every fine detail that was discussed, but they might also be too embarrassed to ask again. Keeping a transcript allows you to later email that transcript to your lead and remind them of everything that was discussed.

This also gives you an opportunity to touch base again and show them you care about whether they are satisfied with the chat experience or not.

  • Clearly Labeled Areas

Make sure everything is labeled clearly for your site visitor. He or she shouldn’t have to hunt to find the chat feature. Instead, make sure it is easily found and looks the same on every page. Once the chat box is engaged, it should also be clear where the user needs to type and how to enter the text.

Customer Chat Tips

One clear example of a well-labeled chatbot can be found at Conestoga Log Cabins and Homes. A box pops up that has clearly labeled entry boxes and a box stating “enter your question.”

  • Chatbots

Chatbots are one way to staff your chat without spending money hiring an actual body to run the conversations. Instead, businesses purchase the software once, input all the basic information the chatbot needs based on what past customers or site visitors have asked, and lets the artificial intelligence do its job.

A word of caution here — if you plan to run a chatbot, be sure you offer an option for customers to contact you via email or some other means. A chatbot can’t possibly answer every question there might be, so at some point you’re going to have to input additional info the chatbot doesn’t have. Update it each time you run into a question such as this, and the bot will become more and more efficient with time.

  • Use Social Media

Social media is an excellent way to reach consumers, particularly the younger crowd. Allow customers to tweet you for a response, but be sure you have someone readily available to respond. Responses should take minutes, not hours. If you only want to staff social media responses for a certain amount of time, then you can clearly lay that out on your social media pages and your website.

One example of a site that uses social media to interact with customers is Chegg, which is a company that provides textbooks and rentals to college students. Whenever a student has a question, he or she can tweet out the question and tag @CheggHelp. Staff will answer promptly during business hours.

  • Offer Multilingual Chat Options

We are living in a truly global economy, so offering multiple language options for your chat is a great idea. If your target audience speaks English or Spanish, then you’ll want to staff your live chat with both types of speakers and train them thoroughly on your products and policies. You would then use routers to send the consumer to the appropriate chat technician.

  • Target Specific Needs

Another thing you can do is trigger live chat when a customer is on a specific product page. This requires making each chat highly targeted to that item. So, if a customer is searching for boots and lands on a page for rain boots, the chat might pop up and ask if the customer wants tall or short rain boots. It might ask what the customer will use them for and give a specific product recommendation.

An example of a site using this type of targeted live chat is Ruffwear. The company sells active wear and other items for canine companions. You will find things such as lifejackets, winter boots and vehicle restraint harnesses. Knowing which item to choose can be daunting at times. During business hours, chat boxes will pop up as you browse through the site, offering help with various things, such as finding the right boot and fit for your pooch.

The number of companies offering live chat continues to increase from month to month. New AI advances and increasing competitors in the global market make providing excellent customer service more important than ever. If you pay close attention to your live chat features, you can stand out from the competition by using them in a creative way that puts your customers first.

Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She enjoys researching the latest design trends and always has a cup of coffee nearby. She manages Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

How to Close a Sale Graphic Design

The Eccentric’s Guide to Design Sales – Train To Be A “Closing Pitcher”: 3 Useful Tips

Yeah yeah yeah, you’ve heard the old cliche a million times – “ABC – ALWAYS BE CLOSING!” If only it were that simple. True, when selling your design services, you want to maintain a clear objective, and follow every deal to its proper conclusion, but not at the expense of honest-to-goodness interpersonal relationships. Take time to stop and smell the roses, together. But always be conscious of other people’s time. And when it’s all said and done, heck, you might even want to send your clients a dozen roses.

On that note, maybe the old adage should be updated to better suit the times: “ABC – Always Be Courting.” Hmm. Now there’s a novel idea. Court your clients. Show them some love. Hear what they have to say. Get to know their goals, aspirations, and concerns. Let them feel like you’re taking care of them, and get them to home plate, safe and sound. We know, we know, it sounds a bit kinky, and we’re certainly mixing our metaphors here a bit. But, bottom line is, you’re not going to succeed at either of these approaches unless you train yourself to be a closing pitcher. And your objective as a closing pitcher is not to strike ‘em out, but to ensure that all parties involved are swinging for the fences, and heading for home! OK. Now we’re double [maybe even triple] mixing our metaphors here. Just bare with us.

Here are 3 useful training tips for you on how to be a closing pitcher in design sales, courtesy of Go Media, your Cleveland Design Service experts.

    1. The Wind Up – Have a clear objective going into any negotiation. Keep the tone of the meetings brisk and the preliminaries brief, but don’t rush it. Keep your story fresh, and avoid using the same anecdotes every time. Don’t bring hooch to a baby shower as it were, or caviar to a Super Bowl party. Adjust your pitch to suit the situation. Every client is a little different. This doesn’t even require that you memorize your own schtick. On the contrary. You don’t want to be too scripted. But you certainly don’t want to sound one dimensional either. Clients can pick up on tired, worn out yarns. It’s more about paying attention to where the conversation is going, following your own lead, looking for signs & shifts in the conversation and making it work. Always leave a little room to shoot (or Pitch) from the hip.
    2. The Pitch – OK. Now everybody’s settled in and it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Wind it up and let ‘er rip, slingshot! Have your value proposition buttoned down, and simply articulate how you intend to deliver. Introduce a level of collaboration to the proceedings too, but not to the detriment of closing the deal. It’s important to give your clients the impression that you’re in the driver’s seat, and they can just enjoy the ride if they so choose. Somebody has to drive. Might as well be you.
    3. The Wrap Up – Okay. Party’s over, and all signs point to a decision. This is not a pressure tactic. This is reality. Time is tight, at a premium, and very precious in any negotiation. So get to the point. If the meeting ends with an “I’ll get back to you”, there’s a 50/50 chance you’re sunk. The narrative should always be pointing toward the finish line, home plate. Be the narrator. Take the lead. Any good closing pitcher worth his or her salt intuitively understands this. Avoid loose ends during the wrap-up, and minimize the number of unanswered questions before everyone hits the showers. Don’t let the deal hang out there like an unsolved riddle, and don’t encourage your clients to take the time to think it over. One common way closing pitchers succumb to this pitfall is by giving their clients too much wiggle room and too much homework at the end of a meeting. This is just an invitation to stall.

People want to feel like you’re taking care of them. They want to hire you to handle the heavy lifting. If you depend on your clients for too much additional information, you’re just encouraging them to drag their heels. This is not to suggest that you should be pushy, no. Simply keep your eyes on the ball, steer things home as much as you possibly can, and remain conscious of other people’s time.

Give your clients the tools they need to seize the day, swing for the fences, and make a commitment. Deliver the right pitch, custom made for their business, for everyone’s sake. Good Luck!

improving relationships with clients

Conquering Customer Service: 5 Tips to Keeping Your Customers and Clients Happy

Improving Relationships with Clients & Customers

Whether you’re the head of an advertising agency, the president of a design firm, or a freelance designer exchanging emails with a customer, you need to be educated in the world of customer service. After all, we are dealing with people – customers or clients – always. And whether we want to admit it or not, they’re always keeping score. Their opinions can drive – or destruct – your business – so make it a global issue.

We talked with Zappos, a company who’s rocking the customer service world, to see what lessons we could learn about improving relationships with customers and clients ourselves here at Go Media. Find their quotes throughout the article, as well as our thoughts on the matter below.

Be Available

Recently, we added customer chat to our sites – the ArsenalMockup Everything and Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. The ability to connect with clients, fest attendees and customers has been extremely refreshing and has conversions as well. The best part is being able to talk one on one with the people that visit our sites day to day. We learn more about who they are, what they are looking for and how we can fulfill their needs. This has taken a lot of the guess work out of the question: “How do we make our clients and customers happy?” Because, well, they can just tell us.

| We recommend Olark |

Ensure Your Entire Company is Focused on Customer Service

We’ve established the fact that customer service is at the very foundation of your business. It should not simply relegated to those folks answering the phones or on chatCustomers and clients do call or connect with other employees, you know. Gasp! Are those other employees equipped to serve your customers with as much knowledge, love and care?

Cassie from Zappos recommends, “1. Hire the right people – those that are in alignment with your company culture. 2. Train them well – make sure they fully understand and are immersed in your company culture and expectations of the culture. All of our new employees, regardless of dept or job, goes through 4 weeks of new hire training where they learn about our culture and what we mean by Delivering Wow through Service. Everyone learns how to do the job in our call center and takes customer calls. 3. Treat them like adults and let them do their job.”

Integrate Customer Service into Company Culture

When your client or customer calls, or walks into your office, how will they know they’re at ( > your office here < ) ? What will make your call, your visit stand out? Will it be the enthusiasm in your voice and sense of humor combined with your unparalleled customer service? Or the way you ask your customer silly questions to fill the silence?  Make it memorable, instead of as dry as when you call the cable company…

“Zappos customer service is all about the culture and the people who drive it. The idea is, anyone can be taught how to run a computer or answer phone calls, but we go through several interviews to make sure we’re a fit with the culture here. Part of that culture is making the experience of contacting us more personable and not so robotic. We like to chat it up with customers even it doesn’t have anything to do with our site, or products. We call it, the Zappos experience. We want to make customer feel good about contacting us and not the “Oh man, I gotta call the DMV” feel.”​ – Miggs El Rudo, Customer Service Representative, Zappos

Encourage, Allow Time Personal Connection

Many times, customers feel rushed off the phone, client meetings are cut short. Cutting a meeting off at the end of an hour or hurrying off customer chat can be seen as cold, uncaring. What if you gave the other party the time they needed to be heard?

“We try to be more personable here so that we can connect with the customer a deeper level than just your average customer / rep relationship. We show empathy and are more caring. We try to relate to a customer on any level they feel comfortable with and often times, it ends in us sending them a card or small gift. We call it PEC, or Personal, Emotional Connection. For example, before I came to Live Chat, I answered phones. My longest call was 4 hours. This customer needed to swap out her jeans because the were too small. She was talking about how her husband was on her case about gaining weight and then I expressed to her my weight issues as well, and that was it. We just went on and on for hours.​” – Miggs El Rudo, Zappos

Call Them Before They Call You

Clients reach out regularly in order to see to it that their design needs are getting fulfilled. Customers call or chat to ask questions about a product, it’s ins and outs, or with feedback. All of this is well and good. But being pro-active means you’ll knock it out of the park. Call your clients and customers, from time to time, and with no reason or motive, to check in on them. Send them a holiday card or show up with a Valentines Day gift in hand. This unexpected call or visit will blow them away (and up your chance at return business, should you be upping your game all around – and we trust you are).

“At Zappos, we are empowered to make all decisions when we are assisting customers, notes Zappos customer service representative Pamela. “We have many gifts we can send customers for special occasions and just because. I have sent customers flowers for a wedding, sympathy and just for being a great customer and making a great connection.”

Above all, connect with your clients and customers authentically and with kindness, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

What are your rules for excellent customer service?

Everything You Need to Know About Dealing with Difficult Clients

Whether you are a freelancer or run your own company, we have all dealt with difficult customers. It can be an arduous undertaking to deal with the idiosyncrasies of different clients, but it is a must for any business owner or designer to properly handle difficult customer interactions. The consequence of handling a customer incorrectly will not only cost you money but will also create the possibility of bad word-of-mouth, which can affect future sales and money in your pocket.

If you don’t believe us, just check out our post about the book “Thank You Economy“. The in-depth review tells you about the importance of guiding your clients through the design process and ensuring that their needs are met from the beginning to the end. Brushing off a clients’ issue could lead to a nasty review on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter, which could in turn could deter future clients from contacting you for design services.

Handling Difficult Clients

When you don’t know where to begin, it is best to start with the experts and we don’t believe there is any industry that deals with more difficult customers than the airline industry. Go Media recently had the opportunity to speak with a manager at a major US airline who deals daily with difficult customers and knows the do’s and don’t’s of how to handle them. There is also advice on how to correctly tackle a demanding client interaction and the best way to resolve the issue so the person walks away with a smile on their face.

Read below for the Q & A:

GoMediaZine: 

How often do you deal with a difficult clients/customers?

Airline Manager:

In my current position, I deal personally with probably one difficult customer/passenger per day. As a department, the Passenger Service group handles a few dozen during the course of a day, I would estimate. These are people for whom something has gone terribly wrong in the course of their travels and who are looking for some sort of resolution. They are looking for it now, and they are looking for it loudly.

GoMediaZine: 

What is the best way to handle a difficult client/customer in a face-to-face interaction?

Airline Manager:

While this is certainly something that varies by industry, I would say that there are a number of effective strategies that are more or less universal. In general, the calmer you are able to remain, the more rapidly you will see your customer bring the tone of the interaction down. You can only yell at someone for so long before you realize that he or she is not yelling back and you change your behavior, if for no other reason than out of embarrassment.  In an airport environment, and in particular in a hub station with the high volume of connecting traffic and increased probability that you will experience some sort of service disruption, this is even more critical. When you get a sandwich you don’t like or your movie freezes or your bed is not made-up to your liking, you are upset and looking for someone to remedy the situation. However, when you are stranded in a foreign city, missing family or friends or important business or a cruise, you tend to go a little insane pretty quickly.

Once you have established that you will not elevate your tone to match that of the irate customer, you need to do a few more things. You have to listen to the problem and try to see it through the eyes of the customer. He or she will tell you everything you need to know. The actual incident is never at the root of the behavior. The more you are able to convey your empathy for the situation the customer is in – “I was late coming in from New York and I missed the connecting flight to San Francisco, where my sister is getting married tomorrow morning.” – the greater the trust that will develop between you and the customer. More than anything, customers want someone from your company to understand the unfortunate circumstances they have been left in. They want to vent, they want to feel that you have understood and cared about their predicament, and they want a genuine apology. Lastly, they want a solution. They want to see you try to find a fix for their problems, and even if the result is not ideal, they will be brought back to a calm state by your efforts and communication. Maintain good eye contact, let them know what you’re doing, and try to deliver a solution that addresses their concerns. It is not always possible to do this, and companies generally employ a Customer Relations department to handle transactions such as refunds or compensation for situations where the employee and the customer were unable to reach an acceptable resolution at the first point of contact.

Difficult Client

GoMediaZine: 

What is the best way to handle a difficult client/customer who has posted disparaging remarks on a social media platform about you or your company?

Airline Manager:

It cannot be overstated the extent to which the social media world has turned the world of customer service on its head. It used to be that you had to be really, really unhappy to actually go home and write a company to express your dissatisfaction. In today’s world, a passenger will post a comment about a service experience while walking down the ramp to board an airplane. The immediacy provides a second of instant release for the customer needing to vent, but this can translate into a week of headaches for the company as they scramble to figure out what went wrong and try to fix it.

Many larger companies now have departments that do nothing other than this exact function – they monitor the internet for content posted about the company or its workers, whether it is positive or negative. My company is no different. We have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed and these are monitored constantly. Passengers post their experiences all the time, and the positive ones are passed along to the stations to share with the employees. The negative posts are generally removed pretty quickly from our sites, and if posted elsewhere efforts are made only to have falsehoods removed from other sites. It is not advisable to engage directly with the complainant in an online forum. If he or she provides a means for making direct contact, this is a better approach. You are able to understand what is at the heart of the issue and to provide resolution, if appropriate, utilizing the same techniques described above.

Difficult Client

GoMediaZine: 

How do you teach your employees how to successfully treat clients/customers especially difficult ones?

Airline Manager:

As I mentioned, the dynamics of a hub airport environment will supply an endless train of spectacularly angry customers as the weather, air traffic, maintenance and any number of other external forces conspire to wreak a unique brand of havoc on the prospect of successful completion of one’s journey. There is no place quite like the airport when it comes to disappointment and rage, and every one of the positions staffed by an airline worker provides a fresh opportunity to send the upset customer happily on his way or to see him led away in handcuffs. I believe there are very few customers that simply cannot be helped, and this is typically because alcohol has been introduced into the equation.

I paint the job of the airline’s Customer Service Agents, Supervisors and Managers as follows: In no industry do you have the opportunity to direct such a massive swing of emotion with so little effort. If you genuinely care about the customers you are interacting with, you have the absolute ability to make someone’s day, every day. Every one of us has seen a lunatic having a nervous breakdown at the airport.  It is loud and messy and tends to be littered with profanity. However, if we can keep this person from escalating to physical violence or making any threats, we can send him away apologizing to us for his behavior and thanking us for taking the time to help. This seems like a fantasy, but it happens every day. You have to like this. You have to find some personal satisfaction in seeing this happen. You can’t take anything personally. People lose their minds with the way they allow themselves to behave in an airport. The ground staff has no security whatsoever beyond their podium and the blind faith that you don’t want to get arrested, so you probably won’t jump across the counter at them. I talk to my employees about this, though, and I try to frame it as an exciting opportunity to make someone’s day. I can discuss it this way because I believe it completely. I find few things more satisfying than taking someone who is screaming and cursing and throwing paper and making a spectacle in the middle of the terminal, settling them down, listening to the problem, talking it through and finding a solution. 100% of the time, I get an apology and a “thank you”, even if they are still upset.

Difficult Client

GoMediaZine: 

When you are dealing with a particularly difficult client/customer, how do you calm your own nerves in order to better deal with the person?

Airline Manager:

I do not take anything personally at all. I am able to absorb the bile they  spew in the course of the rant and I try to remain as level as possible. I focus all of my energy on looking at the person and listening. I do not feel nervous or tense or stressed. I think there is a lot to be said for being able to hear through the insults and cursing and ignore it. If you do not feel defensive, you will not act defensively and you will have a successful interaction.

GoMediaZine:

How do you teach those techniques to employees so that they can successfully interact with these troublesome clients/customers?

Airline Manager:

This is a complicated question. To a large extent, it is difficult to teach people not to be defensive. This is a very natural reaction, and one that is more comfortable, particularly for our younger employees. Your company has to have a genuine commitment to providing excellent service, and this has to be communicated to your employees carefully and thoughtfully. Many companies have annual training programs that review policies and rehash the same tired cliches, such as “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” I submit to you that not a single person who has written one of these generic customer service training curricula has worked in an airport.

There are a couple things you can do:

  • Set clear expectations for your employees as far as service standards. Make sure that they understand the way that the company (and, by extension, you, as their supervisor) expect from every interaction with a customer.  Make it a part of the company dialogue, all the time. If you advertise, use these advertisements to focus on the importance of the service your employees provide. The more publicly you shout this, the more clearly your employees can see that service is a value to your company. They feel a sense of pride. Operational performance metrics are good to discuss in order to involve the employees and illustrate that each of them owns a stake in the success of the company. However, you have to tell the story all the time – through examples both good and bad – of what is expected of them as far as service. Otherwise, they will default to operational success because, if nothing else, that keeps them from being disciplined.
  • Personalize any training or discussion about service. This is true of many industries, but the airlines employ a good number of people that do not travel – whether by choice or otherwise – with any regularity. It is a job. Therefore, it can sometimes be difficult for these employees to truly empathize with the person melting down in front of them, since they just look insane. Use examples in your training, in your discussions. Any training should center around participation. You should conduct role-plays, where each person has a chance to be the customer and the agent. The employees will learn from each other, as well, if you hold group discussion sessions and review complaint letters and swap stories. Everybody, from every background, knows what it feels like to be treated well and to be treated poorly. Work some Mr. Rogers stuff on them. It works.
  • Recognize outstanding service, and do it publicly and loudly. Have programs that recognize great service. Share compliment letters from customers with the employees. Compare it to complaint letter, where a passenger was in the same situation but the employee handled it differently. The thinnest of lines exists between a complaint and a compliment, and there are a few very small actions that can change the whole interaction. Have one-on-one discussions with your employees as often as you can regarding service standards, but especially when they have received a complaint letter. Review the letter with a focus on the customer’s perception, as opposed to the details of the incident. Have the employee come up with a way that something could have been done differently to prevent the letter, even if it would not have provided complete resolution.
Difficult Client

GoMediaZine:

What are some of your tips and tricks to not letting negative interactions with clients/customers unravel your whole day

Airline Manager:

I don’t know. I don’t really have any. These things have never stayed with me on a personal level. The only time a passenger interaction stays with me is when I know that the person is still in the station and I follow them throughout the day to see if they make it out on one of the next flights.

GoMediaZine:

How do you translate these methods (from question above) to your employees?

Airline Manager:

I tell them to step away. Go take a break for a few minutes, let your supervisor handle it for a bit. Some employees take these interactions very much to heart and they are stuck with the feeling long after the passenger has left. I have had passengers say horrible things to my employees. Even after we have sent the customers away, denying them transport on us, the emotional affects of the incident linger. There is no single strategy for making this better, but I think escaping for a few minutes is generally a good place to start.

Difficult Client

GoMediaZine: 

What are some ways you distress after dealing with a particularly difficult client/customer?

Airline Manager:

In many of these situations, the ways that people allow themselves to behave are fairly absurd. While I do not generally become stressed from the interaction, I find it helpful to tell the story and laugh about it once I am back in an office or break room, out of sight of customers. It is a good way to blow off steam, if nothing else.

GoMediaZine:

I think most of us can agree that people in the airline industry have to deal with more difficult customers/clients than people in other industries, so how does the advice you give translate to other industries?

Airline Manager:

I think most of it translates fairly well to other industries. Customer service is pretty standard – it’s just the level of crazy that our customers reach that is pretty unique.