How to Talk to Customers

I just finished reading How to Talk to Customers by Diane Berenbaum and Tom Larkin. It is a good read and is filled with case studies and anecdotes. The authors show how any customer dialogue can be evaluated and improved.

The purpose of the book is to show you how to interact with customers so the customers feel positive about your company and their experience with you. The material in the book is based on their MAGIC customer service training program. MAGIC stands for Make A Good Impression on the Customer.

I think the book does a reasonably good job of this, but my personal observation is that any system that requires long lists of steps to be performed (33 in one list alone) is not addressing the real basics of customer interaction: respect.

This book deals with the actions involved and does a good job of that, but does not deal with respecting the customer. If you follow the steps involved, you can certainly seem like you are granting importance to the customers needs, but attitude stems from personal convictions and a lack of respect will undermine the most careful attempts at making a good impression.

Respect for the customer underlies every successful customer interaction. If you respect customers, this book will make great sense and will help sharpen your skills.

On the other hand, this book and the training system behind it may be viewed with scorn in a corporate environment where call center personnel are rated by how little time they spend on each call. This is, of course, a corporation that has little or no respect for customers. Handling customer calls is regarded as an expense, not as an obligation.

If you want to sharpen your customer handling skills, this book will help you.

If you deeply respect your customers and their needs, you may already know much that is in it.

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0 Responses to How to Talk to Customers

  1. Tom Larkin says:

    Mr. St. Lawrence:

    I just read your review of our book and I thought to send you a note. You brought out some key insight into the MAGIC Philosopy.
    Respect is the key and with out it, a check list is just a ‘task’ with out spirit.

    Your quote; “On the other hand, this book and the training system behind it may be viewed with scorn in a corporate environment where call center personnel are rated by how little time they spend on each call”. is also representative of corporate america and many call centers. However, we are brought in to increase satisfaction through relationship building. Hence, we essentially educate and train on how to be respectuful and deliver respecting behavior on the phone and face to face. Our 33 point tool is actually appreciated in organizations where they want to drive respect by clarifying the behaviors that align with it. You’ll note on the ‘MAGIC 33 points’, that several behaviors are directly linked to respect.

    Respect for human dignity is not just profitable, it is primary.

    Thank you again for your insight.

    Tom Larkin

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