Doesn't matter what you're selling or providing, if you're a franchise owner and have a staff you have the same concerns.

How do we keep our clients (customers) or whatever you want to call them, you name it, happy and coming back? That's the big question.

Sadly there's not just one skill and definitely there are more than 3, but in order to get you off on the right foot here are 3 big ones you can start with today.

1. Listening Skills - "HUH?" "WHAT DID YA SAY?" and other caustic phases like that won't do. Every time you ask a customer what they said is a red flag to them. It simply says "I wasn't paying any attention to you."

Getting their order wrong says you weren't listening/paying attention. Sending the wrong information says you weren't listening/paying attention. And that goes for whether you're a fast food or a service provider.

Remember. We hear, but are we really listening? Are we paying attention?

2. Sympathy and Empathy - And being sure they know the difference.

* Sympathy - Sincerely feeling badly something happened and acknowledging it.

* Empathy - Understanding how a customer feels that something happened and acknowledging it.

Not acknowledging a situation is big cause for your customer to take their business elsewhere.

3. The Ability to Apologize Properly - Believe me, "SORRY 'bout that" is not an apology. When we screw up, make a mistake, or do something wrong, the words need to be, "My apologies." Not, "Sorry 'bout that."

Wrong change, wrong order, or wrong information is "MY APOLOGIES."

They say employees can only grasp 3 items at one time and for your information, it takes 21 days to change a habit. These are not overnight changes.

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Reprinted with permission of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training. Nancy Friedman is a featured speaker at franchise, association & corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning & many others. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or visit www.nancyfriedman.com.

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