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Coffee Talk Expert

About our Guest Expert: Donna Hall of The Right Answer

Donna Hall, president of The Right Answer, has been making customers happy and satisfied for more than 15 years. She's a customer service whiz who first discovered her service talents as an intern at a major daily publication working with subscribers, and later, she added to her service skills in the medical and newspaper industries.

After this, she was hooked on the high of making customer service departments click and worked her way up the customer service management ladder with USA Today. Along the way, she attended countless customer service seminars and workshops, where one day, she suddenly realized her true calling!

So, she quit her nine-to-five job and like the rest of us, jumped feet first into self-employment! Donna started her consulting business, The Right Answer, about five years ago to train customer service professionals the right ways and the right answers in dealing with daily customer service challenges. Her two-day seminars and workbooks are chockful of the nitty gritty of customer service.

Besides being a customer service guru, Donna's a whiz in the kitchen (which is almost a prerequisite for any Idea Cafe biz expert!). She whips up fancy feasts in her New York City home for her twin 18-year old sons and holds down the fort of her bustling biz at the same time. What a gal!

Donna's Answers

Does anyone have any pointers on how to handle those hard-to-please customers?

My customers are my bread and butter, but one thing that drives me to distraction are the last-minute cancellations or no-shows...

How do you deal with a long-term (pretty large account) customer, whose contact is incompetent? Any concrete training tips?

What types of rewards or programs seem to do the best job of motivating people to excel in customer service?

Does anyone know of any good books or magazines on customer service?

I run a secretarial service... How can I gently, but firmly get my client to pass over the books?

I'd like to build up my clientele for my service biz and could use some help on getting referrals....Anyone???

I struggle to find qualified people to answer our busy phone lines. Does anyone have any phone tips to help me train future staff?

Does anyone have any good advice for discouraging my service employees from making and receiving personal calls when they're working the phones with customers?

Would you recommend that my service department make up or adopt its own mission statement or service motto? If so, why or why not?

What can I do to help my employees be more people-friendly?

My customers love me, or else they wouldn't be sending all of their friends and family to me, but I'm worried that they'll find someone else who can stay on top of all this! Any suggestions for getting organized?

I am finding that my temper with my customers sometimes gets to the breaking point. I am looking for some wisdom to help me cope with them.

I recently had a frustrating experience as a customer, and it made me think about customer service at my local biz.... How can my biz learn from my customer service nightmare?

I'm considering starting a customer service company for local businesses in my community... How do I go about checking out the feasibility of this working and how do you charge for service-type businesses?

I own a home-office cleaning business. What I'm wanting to do is to provide additional services. . . . I want to outsource the majority of the services but still collect a fee. How do I approach other companies (well established) to even consider being a part of this business and for me to collect a referral fee?


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