Customer Service Tip of the Week

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Bring Out the Best – 11/12/19

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

As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs to be done differently, better, or more or less frequently in order to achieve the best outcomes possible.

I’ll never forget the first project that I led well over 20 years ago. My boss congratulated me on the great work. And then he said: Ed, when you’re pointing out everything that needs to improve, make sure you’re balancing it with what’s done well. Even when people need to change, they want to feel good about the things they’re doing that need to continue.

Is not that the tone of the report was negative. It’s just that there was no balance. I was pointing out what needed to be improved to try to achieve the best outcomes, but they also need to know what they’re doing great – that which needs to continue to achieve the best outcomes.

So, when you’re working with a customer, along with sharing details about what they need to do differently, praise them for what they already did well: You’ve done great managing this effort on your own. Now, to make sure that you’re even more successful, here is how we suggest starting to change things for the future.

When you’re talking to a co-worker, if they’ve given you incomplete information, show what else you need, but thank them for what they already provided: There’s some great information on this form! I just need a few more items so that we can move forward.

And when you’re speaking to yourself, make sure all the self-talk isn’t critical on what you did wrong and what you need to improve. Give yourself the occasional pat on the back for what you did right: That was a great call! I really got along well with the client, we were both pleased with how it ended and what the next steps were, and I could tell they were very comfortable, very confident, and they felt really good, too!

When you’re trying to improve, make sure you are clearly stating what’s already working well and what needs to continue so that improvement can be done from a positive perspective.

Identify what needs to be done better or differently, but do it in a way that brings out the best.

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Know What You Don’t Know – 11/5/19

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Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions.

In the world of customer service, basing actions on assumptions is a risk we shouldn’t take, and it’s a risk we do not need to take either.  Taking action is work. Taking action also requires a customer’s time and almost always has some kind of an impact on the customer.  So before we take an action, let’s make sure we know what we need to know.

When responding to a customer need, briefly in your mind run through a mental checklist.  Run through the 5 W’s:  Do you know the Who, What, When, Where, and Why?  If not, these are questions you can ask the customer to give you the information you need before you take action:

  • Who – The name of the person with the need or those involved in the request.
    • Can I get your name, please?
    • Who needs this service?
    • Can I get the name of the person needing this item?
    • To whom am I speaking?
  • What – A description of what they want done.
    • Which service do you need?
    • What would you like done?
    • Which item are we discussing?
  • When – A common understanding of timeframe – when it’s needed.
    • By when do you need this done?
    • When do you need to receive this item?
    • What date are you considering?
  • Where – The location where something needs to take place.
    • Where does this need to be held?
    • Where are you located?
    • To where does this need to be delivered?
  • Why – An understanding of the other person’s goal.
    • What are you hoping to accomplish?
    • What’s your ultimate goal?
    • Can you help me understand the result you’re looking to achieve?

Before you take action for the customer, first know what you don’t know.  Then get to know what you need to know to address the need right the first time.

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Service, Sports, and Self-Control – 10/29/19

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When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every other shot, every other hole, was an emotional challenge. My attitude suffered, and my score suffered.

These days, I rarely play golf, but when I do there is so much less negative emotion involved after every mistake or every missed shot. Even though I miss-hit a lot more shots than I did when I was playing and practicing, one bad shot does not automatically lead to another. One bad hole does not automatically lead to another.

The difference is partly attitude, but it is also self-control. Self-control has a huge effect on an employee’s success in customer service as well.

It’s very difficult to talk to people via the web, via the phone, face-to-face, and via text, and to be consistently good if we allow one bad encounter to get to us. In customer service, it’s difficult to deal with the angry customers (and the occasional crazy customer!) if we allow that interaction or that one word or just that person’s “way” to influence what we do the rest of the day.

Self-control means making sure that we are listening to our bodies and monitoring our thoughts in these difficult circumstances. It means trying to stay loose and open mentally and physically despite the tension that surrounds us.

Having self-control is about controlling our emotions, being able to get through our initial reactions and – instead –respond in a way that is not knee-jerk. Having self-control means talking positively to ourselves when we’re getting ready to go into difficult meetings or hop on calls with customers who we know have issues. That level of self-control and managing our own emotions will help us to manage our part of the conversation that much better.

The idea is that bad stuff is going to happen in the business world just like I’m going to hit the shot out-of-bounds or I’m going to miss a 2-foot putt in golf. But if you have self-control, bad circumstances do not frustrate you as much. When you do something wrong, you’re not is likely to get angry with yourself, and when bad things happen at one point, you’re less likely to allow those situations to snowball throughout the remainder of your day.

Get in the habit of doing some self-monitoring of your thoughts and emotions so that you have the self-control you need to not let one bad apple or one bad encounter lead you into a bad day.

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