Customer Service in a Diverse World

Customer Service in a Diverse World

Customer Service in a Diverse World

Have you ever experienced a situation in which you were in a place of business and either had a service provider make a derogatory statement to you about another customer or group of customers or overheard two employees sharing negative comments about other customers? In many instances comments or off-the-cuff statements about based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disabilities or other diversity factors are not only hurtful but potentially discriminatory. In some instances, such remarks may be grounded in the employee’s deep-seated beliefs or personal values based on their own experiences or education. In others, they may be a result of simple ignorance related to individual customers or groups. Whatever the reason, making comments to or in the presence of other customers is unacceptable and is likely to have negative personal and business results.

I recently experienced an instance in which a small business owner of the barbershop that I’ve patronized for years made a comment that I felt was totally uncalled for and based on personal prejudice. I had commented about a newspaper article regarding a local Hindu group that had recently built a temple in the local area. I commented that I’d be interested in going over to visit the facility and learn more about the religion. My barber remarked, “Why would you want to do that? In my opinion, we should burn all those ragheads and keep them out of our country.” I was shocked since he is obviously ignorant of the topic on which he was commenting and had no concern for how his remarks might be received by others. I shared my feelings with him about what he had said and explained that he seemed to be confusing religions and ethnic groups and that in either case, his remarks were out of line and potentially offensive. His response was, “I fought in Viet Nam and I don’t trust any of these radicals.” The result of this conversation is that I now patronize a different hairstylist and have shared this story dozens of times with others.

In today’s world where people are so mobile, the economy is globally intertwined and information about other groups is so readily available through various channels, it is hard to believe that there are people who have not taken the time to discover the benefits of embracing diversity and still harbor such prejudice. Service providers who remain content to take actions such as the one I experienced not only guarantee lost business for their organization but also jeopardize their personal and professional reputation.

As I discuss in my latest book (Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Service Across Cultures), “Not only do today’s service providers have to be concerned with job knowledge, skills, and professional standards, but they also have to be cognizant of the values, beliefs, social mores, expectations, needs, and preferences of customers…They are the “face” of the organization and need all the knowledge and skills they get in the order to provide stellar customer service.”

For ideas and strategies on effectively serving customers in a multicultural and otherwise diverse world, check out the books Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures and Customer Service Skills for Success.

Positive Impressions Builds Strong Customer Relationships

Postitive Impressions Help Build Strong Customer Relationships

Positive Impressions Builds Strong Customer Relationships

Customers often judge an organization and the people who work for it based on the first impressions made by customer service representatives and others in the organization with whom they come into contact face-to-face or via technology. This is why it is crucial that you and others who serve customers take time to prepare for customer interactions by fine-tuning your interpersonal communication skills.

To ensure that you have the tools needed to deliver excellent customer service to current and potential customers, learn as much as you can about your organization, products, and services. Also, continually work to upgrade your knowledge of people from varies backgrounds and enhance your customer service skills. By taking these basic steps you will be better prepared to send positive messages through your appearance, voice and non-verbal cues and to provide quality customer service.

To learn more about ways to deliver the best customer service possible and make positive impressions on current and potential customers, get copies of Customer Service Skills for Success and Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures.

Strengthening Customer Relationships With Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills

Strengthening Customer Relationships Through Strong Verbal and Non Verbal Communication Skills

Strengthening Customer Relationships

Strong Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication Skills Can Make the Difference!

We live in an era in which people from all over the world come together in various situations throughout any given day. They bring with them individual experiences, education levels, cultural and personal backgrounds, preferences, opinions, and perspectives. Any or all of these elements can impact the way they approach and receive others or the manner in which they communicate.

An old adage goes: It is not what you say, but how you say it that counts. Nothing can be truer than when you are dealing with customers from diverse backgrounds. For this reason, customer service representatives should always take their time to “read” their customers and think of their response (verbally and non verbally) before jumping into any situation where verbal and non-verbal messages communication might be misinterpreted.

Likely, the last thing that a customer service representative, or another employee from an organization, wants to do is falter in their efforts of building customer relationships.

To help reduce the potential of a customer-provider relationship breakdown; service providers should focus on building and practicing their positive communication skills (e.g. smiling, paying compliments, using open body movements and gestures and finding things to agree with when interacting with their customers).

For ideas on how to more effectively communicate verbally and non verbally in order to improve customer loyalty and enhance customer retention, get copies of my books: Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures, Customer Service Skills for Success, and How to Be a Great Call Center Representative.

About Robert W. Lucas

Robert ‘Bob’ Lucas has been a trainer, presenter, customer service expert, and adult educator for over four decades. He has written hundreds of articles on training, writing, self-publishing, and workplace learning skills and issues. He is also an award-winning author who has written thirty-seven books on topics such as, writing, relationships, customer service, brain-based learning, and creative training strategies, interpersonal communication, diversity, and supervisory skills. Additionally, he has contributed articles, chapters, and activities to eighteen compilation books. Bob retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991 after twenty-two years of active and reserve service.

Customer Service Skills That Lead to Customer Satisfaction

Customer Service Skills That Lead to Customer Satisfaction

Customer Service Skills That Lead to Customer Satisfaction

As a customer service professional, what can you do to enhance customer satisfaction and build a lasting relationship with your customers? If you answered “improve your customer service skills and knowledge,” you are correct. Unfortunately, many managers and their organizations do not take the time to invest in employee knowledge and skill-building. Often, supervisors are not taught how to effectively coach and mentor employees and ongoing customer service skills training is neglected for all employee levels. Cost and time constraints are two common excuses for both of these failures. The ultimate result is lowered employee morale, high turnover, lowered customer satisfaction, and increased customer churn rates.

What skills do you believe are crucial for enhancing customer satisfaction?

If you find yourself in a situation in which customer service skills training is not being provided, take responsibility for your own professional development. There are many options for gaining, updating or upgrading your knowledge and skills.

The key to improving the chances of providing stellar service to your customers is to focus on personal motivation and continually strive to improve your own knowledge and customer service skills.

The following are specific areas that can lead to improved quality of customer service.

Customer service skills.  No matter whether you serve internal or external customers, you are in the “people” business. To be successful in interacting with others, you must be able to communicate verbally and nonverbally, actively listen, empathize, question in a non-threatening manner, provide appropriate feedback, and demonstrate that you have their best interests at heart. All of these skills take a conscious effort on your part after you learn how to use them.

Enhanced knowledge of diversity. The world is continuing to evolve related to interactions between a variety of people. This means that for you to be effective in delivering effective service, you must first understand the needs, wants and expectations of various groups. To help accomplish this: (1) Learn as much as you can about the cultural backgrounds, values, and beliefs of customer groups with whom you are likely to encounter, (2) Explore differences and similarities of people from various generations,  (3) Identify preferences of customers based on their genders, age, and ability levels, and (4) Recognize that people have different behavioral style preferences that affect the manner in which they react in various situations. All of these crucial components can impact customer-provider interactions. By increasing your awareness about interpersonal dynamics, you can potentially become a more effective customer service provider.

Organizational and product knowledge. One of the most frustrating things that a customer can experience is an unprepared service professional. This is one who does not know what his or her organization is about, the features, benefits, and functioning of products sold, and services offered. Typically, these areas are addressed briefly in new hire orientation and in the information provided online or in materials provided to employees. Take the time to familiarize yourself with all of these components of the customer service process so that you are prepared to answer questions from customers and offer appropriate options when the time arises.

For additional ideas on how to improve your customer service skills and improve customer satisfaction, search those topics on this blog.

POSITIVE Global Customer Service Model

POSITIVE Global Customer Service Model – Serving Diverse Customers

The following acronym (POSITIVE) provides some strategies for creating or contributing to a positive global service environment and building strong relationships with your customers. It provides a model to move you from good customer service to the best customer service possible.

Put your best foot forward. Maintain a positive approach to situations involving customers, smile frequently, and have a “can-do” attitude. When dealing with customers and potential customers, never forget that they are your reason for employment.

Offer whatever level of assistance possible. In addressing customer needs and wants, go out of your way to uncover and resolve problems and to build a strong customer-provider relationship.

Stay abreast of current industry trends and strategies for delivering quality customer service. By upgrading your knowledge and skills regularly, you will be prepared to address any type of customer situation.

Identify true customer needs by listening to proactively. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.

Take the time to get to know more about your customers. The more you know, the better you can provide quality service.

Invite your customers to open up and share information. Ask open-ended questions (e.g. Who, What, When, How, Why, and To What Extent) that typically lead to more detailed responses from others.

Verify understanding. When a customer provides information, ensure that you heard and understood it correctly before responding. Use closed-ended (typically start with an action verb) to gather this information.

Engage in relationship-building strategies immediately. Use strong interpersonal communication skills. Start with a smile (on your face and in your voice and words) and a professional greeting when meeting customers face-to-face, over the telephone or in an email. If something goes wrong, immediately start on a course of service recovery with a sincere apology and taking steps to “make the customer whole” again with any appropriate compensation.

Source: Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service across Cultures, Lucas. R.W., McGraw-Hill Professional, New York, NY (2011).
Bob Lucas B.S., M.A., M.A, CPLP is principal in Robert W. Lucas Enterprises, Inc and an internationally-known author and learning and performance professional. He has written and contributed to thirty-one books and compilations. He regularly conducts creative training, train-the-trainer, customer service, interpersonal communication and management, and supervisory skills workshops. Learn more about Bob and his organization at and follow his blogs at,, and Like Bob at

Serving Customers from Different Cultures

Serving Customers from Different Cultures

Serving Customers from Different Cultures

Customer service representatives in the United States (U.S.) are often not prepared for the challenges of serving customers from different cultures. This is especially true related to understanding other cultural values and effectively communicating. This is often because many people have never traveled outside the borders of the Continental U.S., nor have they taken time to research subtle differences in communication styles between cultures. In an ideal world, organizations would provide training on the topic to all employees, but the reality is that most do not.

As an example of how perceptions might differ when communicating, consider the fact that various cultures take a different view of silence during an interaction. For example, North Americans are often viewed by people from some cultures (e.g. Asian) as talkative, aggressive, and boastful. If you are from the United States or Canada you might view a customer from Japan or China as being indifferent or lacking an opinion during a discussion when they do not readily have a strong response or opinion to something that you say. They may appear to simply be listening or hesitant to respond. In reality, many people from Eastern cultures have been taught to be reflective, quiet and to observe. If the person to whom they are talking is older or of a higher socioeconomic status, they are also taught to quietly pay respect and listen to those people. This is contrary to what many people from Western cultures are often used to, which is to speak up and voice an opinion or ask a question. In either instance, there is a chance that because of misunderstanding on both sides of the conversation there could be a breakdown in communication or the customer-provider relationship.

By learning how to effectively interact with customers from differing backgrounds you can improve your chances of creating customer satisfaction. You can also potentially reduce customer churn and help develop better brand loyalty. Check out Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service across Cultures for additional thoughts and strategies on effectively serving customers from different cultures and backgrounds.

Time Management Skills in A Diverse Customer Service World

Time Management Skills in A Diverse Customer Service World

Time Management Skills in A Diverse Customer Service World

Reliable time management skills in a diverse customer service world are crucial in order to take advantage of opportunities to effectively interact with customers from various cultures. For years, anthropologists and others have studied the use of time in various cultures to try to better understand why some people view it differently. Their findings can be very useful in today’s world when many customer service representatives and other employees must be concerned with delivering excellent customer service across cultures. By better understanding cultural differences related to time and applying sound time management strategies or time management tips, service providers are more likely to meet their customer’s needs, wants and expectations.

In a diverse customer service world, the perspectives that many people have of time perception are often based on religious dogma or personal and cultural beliefs. For example, in the United States where the Puritans brought ideas of efficient use of time and a focus on the future, their culture developed to where today people focus on change, moving forward at a fast pace and getting more done with less. Entire industries (e.g. fast food) have developed to support this driving mentality. The challenge is that because the United States has become such a “melting pot” of diverse people who have brought with them their own religious and cultural values, conflict with time usage sometimes erupts between people from various subcultures. An example of this within the U.S. population is that many African and Latin Americans, Middle Easterners, Native Americans, Hawaiians, and Asians have brought religious and cultural values with them that focus on revering the past or focusing on the present as opposed to the future.

As an example of how time perception differences are common, ask people from various cultures or subcultures what they perceive an acceptable time for being late to an appointment might be. You will likely receive very different responses. For example, people from Germany or Finland often pride themselves on being some of the most punctual people in the world and are normally always early and on time for meetings and social events. Late arrival is considered rude and potentially insulting. In parts of Great Britain and North America being five minutes late for a meeting might be an acceptable time, but fifteen minutes or more would definitely be considered late and possibly rude, depending on the event and the person with whom you are scheduled to meet. In the Pacific Island, Middle Eastern and many African cultures, tardiness of thirty minutes or more is perfectly acceptable for a business meeting in many instances.

Just as in business situations, if you invite international customers to a dinner meeting or social event, you can anticipate that they will arrive at different times. This is sometimes based on their cultural backgrounds and values. For example, someone from Japan or Korea might arrive half an hour early, a guest from the United States or England — five minutes early, a Honduran and Latin American might show up thirty minutes late, an Italian could be up two hours late, an Ethiopian might be even later and someone from Vietnam might not come at all. They only accepted your invitation to be polite and to avoid causing you to lose face if they said no. If you ever host such an event, make sure that you specify your expectations in writing in order to avoid confusion or embarrassment to guests. For example, your invitations might specify that dinner will be served at 7 p.m. sharp.

If you interact with customers outside your own cultural group regularly, one tip for effectively delivering customer service in a positive manner is to do research on how your customer’s from a particular culture perceive time. By raising your cultural awareness,  you will be better prepared to effectively handle situations where customers are either early or late for meetings and social events. This will also prevent you from inadvertently violating a cultural norm when attending a meeting or event with your customers. The result is that you can potentially meet customer expectations, increase customer satisfaction and form more solid relationships with customers from all parts of the world through your knowledge and actions.

Source of this article: Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures.

Providing Effective Customer Service in a Diverse World

Providing Effective Customer Service in a Diverse WorldProviding Effective Customer Service in a Diverse World

Providing Effective Customer Service in a Diverse World

As the world grows smaller economically and otherwise (e.g. world trade, international travel, outsourcing and offshoring of jobs, worldwide Internet access, international partnerships between organizations and technologically transmitted information exchange), the likelihood that you will have contact on the job with people from other cultures, or who are different from you in other ways, increases significantly.

Providing effective customer service in a diverse world is something that virtually anyone in an organization must master in today’s business world. As the world grows smaller economically and otherwise (e.g. world trade, international travel, outsourcing and offshoring of jobs, worldwide Internet access, international partnerships between organizations and technologically transmitted information exchange), the likelihood that you will have contact on the job with people from other cultures, or who are different from you in other ways, increases significantly. This possibility also carries over into your personal life, since diversity is encountered everywhere (e.g. over the telephone and Internet and in supermarkets, religious organizations, on public transportation), and is an important aspect of everyone’s life. Although diversity presents challenges in making us think of differences and similarities, it also enriches our lives; each encounter we have with another person gives us an opportunity to expand our knowledge of others and build relationships while growing personally.

call center representative, customer service tips, excellent customer service One significant impact that diversity has on customer service is that people from varied backgrounds and cultures bring with them expectations based on the “norm” of their country or group. Whether this diversity pertains to cultural or ethnic differences, beliefs, values, religion, age, gender, ability levels or other factors, a potential breakdown in customer satisfaction can occur if people get other than what they want or expect.

Part of creating a positive diverse business environment is to train each service provider on the nuances of dealing with people who have backgrounds that are different from their own. Additionally, this effort involves each employee taking ownership for enhancing his or her knowledge and skills related to working with a diverse customer base.

To learn more about dealing with diversity in a customer service environment, along with hundreds of ideas on effective customer service skills and tips for dealing with a variety of common customer service challenges and delivering excellent customer service, get copies of the books Customer Service Skills for Success, Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures and How to Be a Great Call Center Representative.

Customer Service Training Activity – Subconscious Gender Stereotypes

Customer Service Training Activity - Subconscious Gender Stereotypes

Customer Service Training Activity – Subconscious Gender Stereotypes

Since ongoing gender communication and interactions between employees and customers is a daily event in most workplaces; organizations must help employees at all levels identify and correct negative stereotypes that might exist between male and female employees.

The following activity is a simple means for getting adult learners active in identifying potentially damaging perceptions they might have about genders and to engage in a productive dialog to help overcome stereotypes that they might unconsciously harbor.

Trainers, supervisors or team leaders can use this activity during a formal customer service or communication training session or at a department staff meeting. Once all trainees have completed the self-assessment, either form small groups of lead a discussion to share individual results and discuss how to improve any issues that surface related to stereotypes.

Instructions to Learners:

Many people have been conditioned since they were young children about acceptable gender roles for males and females in their culture as either masculine or feminine. Often these beliefs create challenges when you are serving customers.

To identify potential predispositions that you may have related to gender roles that are assigned to men and women in your society, give your first impressions for each adjective below. Do not think about the word, just react by placing an “F” by words that you feel best to describe females, an “M” by those that describe males and a “B” by those that could describe both females and males. Don’t go back to change an answer later.

Self Assessment:

Truck driver ___                     Soccer/Football player___               Sky diver____

Airline pilot___                      Pastry baker____                                Chef___

Baseball fan___                      Dog groomer____                              Bus driver___

Entrepreneur___                   Service professional____                 Nurse___

Romantic___                          Courageous____                                Emotional____

Spontaneous____                 Impatient____                                    Goal-oriented___

Sensitive____                        Funny___                                             Powerful___

Strong___                               Competitive____                                Loving___

Outspoken____                     Assertive___                                        Talkative___

Nurturing___                         Intelligent____                                   Driven___

Intuitive____                         Sexy___                                                Critical___

Once you have finished, go back and look to see how many of each letter you recorded. Most people typically have a mix of all three. If you look closely and think of all the people you have known, heard or read about in your lifetime, you probably know some who fall into both categories. Therefore, if there is even one incident where an adjective could describe the opposite gender from the one that you’ve indicated, you may have some hidden stereotypes related to men or women and the gender roles they can/should fill. This does not mean that you are a prejudiced or a “bad” person. It simply means that you may want to work on expanding your knowledge about others and trying to develop a more open-minded perspective of them so that you do not inadvertently do or say anything that might endanger the customer-provider relationship.

Customer service training activities, customer service tips, customer service training ideas, and other useful information, related to interacting with diverse internal and external customers and that can lead to the delivery of excellent customer service, can be found in Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures.

Customer Service Representatives Have to Power to Help or Hurt Their Organization

Customer Service Representatives Have to Power to Help or Hurt Their Organization

Customer Service Representatives Have

to Power to Help or Hurt Their Organization

You may have heard that one person can make a difference in the world. Well, one customer service representative can make a difference in the level of success that is achieved by an organization.

Think about the fact that if you are in a position where you are the first person with whom a customer or potential customer comes in contact, you have the power to create a positive image in that person’s mind. You are the face of your organization in such instances. What you do or say from the time you greet the customer until the transaction ends will cement an image in their mind. Through your professional presence, knowledge, verbal and non-verbal cues and attitude towards service, you can create an experience that will have the customer thinking either, “Wow, this is a person/company that I want to visit again” or “Where did they get that person? I’ll never do business with this organization again.” If the latter occurs, your organization has a problem because research continues to show that dissatisfied customers will tell many other people about a negative service experience. This less than favorable word-of-mouth publicity can bring disaster in the form of lost business. And, don’t forget that it is your current and new customers who provide the revenue that pays for your salary, benefits, training, and much more, so you have a vested interested in ensuring that each interaction is positive.

The important thing to remember about customer needs wants and expectations are that if you do not deliver what they believe to be exceptional customer service, they will simply go to another organization that will. By using professional customer service skills, such as listening, sending and receiving positive non-verbal communication, and verbally communicating in a positive manner, you can determine how to best serve your customers.

For more information, customer service tips and ideas on how to deliver the best possible customer service to a very diverse customer world, get a copy of my book Please Every Customer: Delivering Stellar Customer Service Across Cultures.

Thanks for visiting our website!  If you need or want a copy of this content - please contact the author to request purchasing it. Thank you!