Customer Service Tip of the Week

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

Don’t Assume because… – 8/13/19

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

You’ve probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that…

Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen replaced. Along with selling the new computer to me, the store did a data transfer from the old computer to the new computer over a weekend.

They assumed I didn’t want to check it in the store before I left, but I did. They assumed all the files were transferred from the older computer, but they weren’t. They assumed that my e-mail was setup through Exchange, but it wasn’t.

They made several other assumptions that led to mutual frustration and a negative end to what had (up to that point) been a positive experience. In this encounter, the employee was going down a path for me, and at each fork in the road she made an assumption (several times the wrong assumption), and she then had to backtrack.

Recently, CSS conducted mystery shops for a client, and this client was more concerned with asking questions than making assumptions.

They asked the shopper if we were a new business, and we were not new. They asked if we knew the URL to register for a particular beverage license, and we did not know. They asked whether we’d like to know the different ways we could submit the additional documentation needed, and we did want to know the options.

In this encounter, the employee was going down a path, and at each fork in the road, she asked the shopper a question to determine which direction to go next.

To provide a better customer experience, let the customer determine what to do at the fork in the road.

Don’t assume. Instead, ask.

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Patience Leads to Positivity – 8/6/19

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Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer.

When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like I’ve completed a process, when in reality I’ve only gotten through the first step. I hate coming to the end of the first step and finding that there’s a second step, getting to the end of the second step, and only then finding that there’s a third step. It would be so much better to just know all the steps, the entire timeframe, and what I need to do from the start to make all these steps go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Again, I’m talking from the perspective of the customer. Whether it is talking to account representative about some new service or talking to the computer tech helping me deal with a blinking computer screen, I like to know the steps.

In these situations, I am asking a lot of questions, and things I appreciate most about a person are (1) The specific responses conveyed with knowledge and experience as well as (2) Patience.

Customer Frustrations
It bothers me to no end when I feel like the person is rushing through the conversation. It’s frustrating when they’re making the process sound like it’s not that big a deal; it probably isn’t a big deal to them since they’ve dealt with it 100 times, but it is a big deal to me, the customer. It’s frustrating when they talk fast or make statements unrelated to my need because they didn’t ask questions about what’s unique about my situation.

Avoiding their Frustrations
So, what is not frustrating? What is positive? Knowledge and experience conveyed in specific responses…and patience. When you’re dealing with somebody who’s about to go through a series of steps, convey these attributes.

Be patient. Think about your body language. Avoid interrupting. Breathe a few times to slow yourself down. Ask them questions to understand their situation so you don’t have to talk about the 5 different paths something might take if it’s obvious this process is going to go down 1 path for this 1 unique customer’s 1 situation.

Let your patience result in a positive customer experience.

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Back to Reality…for Customer Expectations – 7/30/19

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?”

Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is ‘X’ minutes?”

Have you ever begun the process of getting a permit to build a deck on a home and been given a form that says what each step in the process involves, when you need to do each step (including inspections), and whom you need to contact?

You may reply “no” to all of these or “yes” to some, but these are examples of companies who understand the importance of trying to set or manage customer expectations. These companies understand that that first person may complain after waiting 5 minutes if they don’t realize that a 15-minute wait is realistic. These companies realize that that second customer may get irate or take their business elsewhere if they had to wait on the phone 2 minutes but might be more patient if their expectation is a 3-minute wait. These companies understand that a customer educated on a process is more comfortable and less likely to have issues with it, less likely to do things incorrectly.

Companies who attempt to proactively set or manage expectations understand the importance of the customer having some concept in their mind of what the reality is going to be; that makes it more likely that the customer will be satisfied with the experience, and the employee won’t have to deal with an irate customer.

Where can your company proactively set an expectation with customers about how long a process will take, how long a wait might be, what actions are about to take place, or what they need to do?

Determine where the opportunities to set expectations exist, and then use signage, messaging, documentation, and direct one-on-one conversations to do whatever you can to set (or reset) your customers’ expectations.

Get customer expectations back to reality.

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