Customer Service Tip of the Week

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

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

Anatomy of a DMV Experience – 3/25/14 TOW

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The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee was very nice and patient with me on the phone. I’m sure that any supervisor that was listening in on the call would give the representative good marks for addressing my need and thanking me for my call.

But it was a horrible experience. Why?

As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

A friend had just recently received a car from a relative, and it had a 10-day temporary authorization to drive without an inspection. Prior to getting the car inspected, my friend unexpectedly got very sick (she is well now, thank goodness), and my friend was afraid that she’d miss the deadline to get an inspection. So she asked that I call to see if she could get an extension:

  • Call #1 – I went to the State DMV website and didn’t find the answer, but I did find a phone number to call. The recorded message asked me to wait and gave no specific expected time for the call to be answered. I waited on hold for 10 minutes and then hung up.
  • Call #2 – I called a local DMV office (let’s call this Office “A”); after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up.
  • Call #3 – I called another local DMV office (let’s call this Office “B”); it rang busy.
  • Call #4 – I called a 3rd local DMV office (let’s call this Office “C”); there was a pleasant message noting whether they would accept payments; they suggested I press “0” for Operator; so I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #5 – I called Office “C” back a few minutes later, thinking that maybe they didn’t have a call queue; after the pleasant message, I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #6 – I called Office “B,” hoping that it too just was overloaded and maybe didn’t have a call queue; it rang busy again.
  • Call #7 – I called Office “A,” and – again – after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up again.
  • Call #8 – I called the State DMV again, and – after 14 minutes – the representative picked up the call as I noted at the beginning of this Tip.

We cannot assume that because one conversation went right on the phone that the customer had a great experience. For all we know, the customer may have had 7 bad experiences before that one conversation that went right.

If this was a private business, I wouldn’t have called 8 times; I would have gone to a competitor, and just like the DMV, they never would have known why.

Mystery Shop your services, or ask the customer about their experience. Never assume that because one moment-of-truth went right that the overall experience worked for the customer.

Know what you’re missing about the full customer experience.

 


Motivate Yourself? – 3/18/14 TOW

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How often have you heard the expression “self-motivated?” It’s usually used to describe others such as “That job applicant is obviously NOT self-motivated” or “Joe needs to be more self-motivated.”

So what exactly are these (typically) managers saying when they lament a lack of self-motivation in others? It’s usually that they don’t know how to motivate someone, and it’s frustrating to them. It could also be that they don’t want to have to motivate someone. They’d rather that employees motivate themselves.

“They get to keep their job – isn’t that motivation enough?!”

Well this Tip has a simple idea that will make those managers (the good ones and bad ones) happy. This advice will also help those of us who don’t get the outside motivation we need.

It’s simple – 3 Steps. Step #1: Make a Success List every day. This is what I do (and it works).

At the start of the day, get out a blank sheet of paper, and write “Successes” at the top. Then throughout the day, note a word or two to remind yourself of one of your accomplishments. Today, for example, I have 5 successes so far (I just write on my sheet what you see to the left of the hyphen below):

  • Bob Smith – The name of a client who said he’d be a reference for CSS for some pro sports mystery shopping work
  • Client X Mtg – A sales meeting I had this morning that went great
  • Article Published! – Notes an article that was published today
  • Great Interview – A helpful telephone interview with a client to share information in preparation for some upcoming training
  • Survey Launched – We launched a new survey today.

By the way, completing this Tip of the Week will be #6!

You don’t use the Success List as a rehash of your To Do’s. There may be some of that on there, but it’s basically your accomplishments – a customer conversation that went well, some kudos you received in an e-mail, some interest on a new project, some thank you that a customer provided, or a word of encouragement from a co-worker or supervisor. Maybe it’s the fact that your week is planned or you reduced the backlog of work. Maybe you went through an old file and purged some old documents.

Whatever it is, write it down.

Here’s Step #2 – Read it as the last thing you do before you go home.

And Step #3 – Read it again as the first thing you do to start the day.

Being self-motivated is a wonderful attribute, but not many of us – day in and day out – can do that without intent. Be intentional. Recognize your own successes. Pat yourself on the back – you deserve it!

Create your own daily “Success List.”

 


Consider Client Onboarding – 3/11/14 TOW

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In Human Resources circles, a word that has become ubiquitous (which – by the way – is also ubiquitous) is “onboarding.” One way to define onboarding is that it’s the process of getting a new hire acclimated to their role as an employee. It’s also defined as “organizational socialization.” It enables new hires to get the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to have a successful transition into your business as effective employees.

While I’m not an expert on employee onboarding, I liken the concept to what we often recommend – let’s call it Client Onboarding.

When you have a new customer or client, if you are a long-term thinker, one who views the customer through the lens of their lifetime value as opposed to their one-time transaction, then it helps you to paint a picture of what Client Onboarding should entail.

If this new client of yours is one you want to keep for a long-time, over many years and transactions, consider these questions:

  • What can you learn about them today that would help you to better serve them tomorrow?
  • How can you ensure they have a good enough experience in this transaction that they’ll want to come back a second time?
  • What can you share with them that will help them to know how to navigate your services or processes more easily in the future?
  • Who or what do they need to know in your organization to begin forming the more social or personal relationship with your people and your business?
  • What can you do with the environment so that it becomes more comfortable, self-evident, and familiar to them in a next visit?
  • What can you do to solicit their feedback so they feel their voice is important and so you learn what’s important to them?
  • How do you convey the appreciation that makes them feel valued in their ongoing relationship with you?

While these were just seven questions, notice the common thread in each…that thread is the future. The references to tomorrow, second time, future, and ongoing. The discussion of begin forming, become, and next.

Get your clients onboard. Be intentional about what you need to do to get a long-term journey started with them.

Enable “organizational socialization” for your clients.