Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Gauge Customer Satisfaction at Every Encounter – 10/8/13 TOW

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You may already feel you’re on “Metric Overload” (measuring customer satisfaction on surveys, getting mystery shopped, knowing your NPS, getting your CX ratings, and ensuring the ECS is A-OK).

Now – based on the title of this Tip – I’m going to tell you that you have to measure MORE?! Not exactly. What I’m suggesting is more do-able than daunting.

I want you to GAUGE customer satisfaction at every encounter. Measurement is done for many reasons, but the initial reason is always to gauge satisfaction. It’s easier to gauge (or get a feel for, an understanding of) satisfaction if you measure satisfaction.

But measurement for the sake of measurement is a waste of time and money. However, having every employee GAUGE customer satisfaction – literally at every customer encounter – is almost always beneficial.

So what do we mean by “gauge.” Hold the magnifying glass up to the customer’s body language; tune in more clearly to their tone-of-voice. What do those non-verbal communication methods tell you about what’s going on inside them, about what they’re feeling?

Literally ask “How was your experience today?’’ or “Did you get your needs met?” or “Is there anything more we can do?” or “Was there anything we could do differently/better next time?”

After many consulting engagements, I ask the client “Was this what you were hoping to receive when we started this process?” or “Do you feel like we achieved the goals you had envisioned when we began this project?”

By gauging the customer’s satisfaction during that encounter, you create – for yourself – an opportunity to learn what you’re doing well and to get positive feedback. You create – for the customer – an environment where they’re more comfortable sharing feedback, particularly constructive (negative) feedback.

At every customer encounter, you’re gauging customer satisfaction by literally looking, listening, and asking questions. You want to KNOW whether they’re satisfied before the conversation ends (and obviously address it if they’re not).

Gauge the customer’s satisfaction to better yourself and your organization.

 


Create Certainty with New Customers – 10/1/13 TOW

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When Jack entered the bank, he knew he needed a loan. He knew that starting up his business would be easier if he had that working capital to get things going. At this point, that’s all he knew.

Jack was anxious; he didn’t know what to expect in the process, and he didn’t know if he’d get a loan. If he got it, he didn’t know how much funding he’d get, or what the terms would be, or by when he’d have to pay it back in full to the bank.

Enter the bank officer. . .

Sherrie was about to deal with a potential customer in Jack, and she didn’t know him, his needs, or whether she could fulfill the needs. But Sherrie knew her job. She knew her paperwork, policies, and procedures. She knew the process.

While Sherrie was dealing with data, facts, and figures, she was also dealing with a person – Jack. She was also dealing with his emotions. She was also addressing what could be a lifetime customer for the very first time.

We often find ourselves in situations similar to Sherrie’s. We know our “stuff,” but we don’t know. . .well. . .Jack. But if we ask the customer enough questions, if we listen to what he says and how he says it, we can begin to understand his emotions.

And oftentimes with prospective customers, there’s apprehension. There’s a fear of the unknown. There’s uncertainty. Where we can change the uncertainty to certainty, where we can convey some hope, we can then begin to build rapport and the customer’s confidence.

Sherrie could not convey certainty about the outcome – she didn’t know if he’d get a loan, how much he would get, and what terms might be involved – but she could convey certainty about the process, about the steps, about what had worked in the past with other clients, and about the attitude and responsiveness she’d convey in her dealings with Jack.

Difficult emotions from new customers, in particular, (such as anxiety, nervousness, and fear) can be addressed by conveying certainty and hope.

Convey certainty to calm the customer’s fears.

 


Quoting Einstein – 9/24/13 TOW

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Einstein once said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

With that in mind, think about your organization’s (or your own) current issues. . .

Your bank is losing accounts. Your team is losing season ticket holders. Your municipality is getting more complaints than ever, or maybe your hospital’s patient satisfaction ratings are dropping.

You personally are seeing the quality of your work decrease; your co-workers aren’t as responsive to your requests as normal; you’re feeling less organized, or you’re getting more criticism than you’re used to hearing.

You want to find a solution to these issues, but – using Einstein’s quote – you need to approach the solution with different thinking, different questions, a different process than you used to create the problem.

Now none of us intend to “create the problem,” but we do typically create a process, a program, a philosophy, or a way of prioritizing. We do have a method to use to gain input, to make decisions, or to execute a plan.

So here are some considerations for how to solve problems with a different kind of thinking. If you don’t use these currently, consider them:

  • Have a customer advisory group help you in better understanding the problem, identifying potential solutions, or “testing” programs/products/processes prior to implementation.
  • Ask front-line employees what issues they’re hearing and how the organization can more quickly identify chronic problems and develop solutions.
  • Look at how different industries deal with problems similar to yours. What could colleges learn about retention strategies from sports teams? What could hospitals learn from manufacturers about continuous improvement? What could a bank learn from a high-end retailer about the customer experience?
  • Ask an employee of some business you patronize how they always seem to be in a great mood or how they’re able to respond so quickly to requests.
  • Ask a vendor how they maintain such a consistently high level of quality.
  • Identify different “hats” to wear in analyzing a problem, and get a group of people to look at the same problem wearing these pre-defined hats. For example, have all members of the group analyze the problem using their “Data Hat” (They all look at the problem, its root causes, and solutions based on what the data’s conveying). Other examples could include: People Hat, Process Hat, Communications Hat, Materials Hat, Motivation Hat, etc.

When problems arise, find new ways to overcome old issues.