Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

Don’t (E)-mail It In – 7/23/13 TOW

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

In the wonderful world of texting and 140 character Tweets, where the ultra-brief is ultra-in, e-mail in business needs to be viewed as a different animal. It’s different than LOL and OMG. It’s different than #CoolBeans. It’s a business letter. It reflects on your professionalism, intelligence, level of empathy, and communication skills.

Sometimes people get lazy with e-mail; they press “Send” when they really should have called instead. Or they press “Send” without reviewing it, and then miscommunications and hurt feelings result.

So let’s review a quick list of e-mail tips; first the “Do’s.” Do. . .

  • Use the “1 Minute Test;” ask yourself, could someone read this e-mail, and in one minute understand the key points and what they must do? If not, modify it to remove any barriers to the e-mail being read.
  • Use personalized greetings/closings to set a professional/cordial tone.
  • Use it when you need to set clear expectations of what will happen next, and by when.
  • Include your contact information (particularly phone and, if possible, address) in the footer to make it easy for the reader to know how to contact you via other means.
  • Use ALL CAPS only in Header Sections. This can help on longer e-mails or to ensure the reader’s understanding.

Now the “Don’ts.” Do NOT. . .

  • Send without proofing and spell-checking – E-mails riddled with spelling errors can make you and your message lose credibility.
  • Seem defensive, sarcastic, or purely negative – It brings in negative emotion, which is especially risky in written form.
  • Overuse e-mail “shorthand” – It can be misinterpreted by the reader or simply not understood; one client got an e-mail from his boss saying “LOL.” The boss meant “Laugh Out Loud.” The employee thought he meant “Lots of Love.”
  • Write hastily without reviewing for content, tone, ease of reading, etc. – It makes you appear impatient in your e-mail response.
  • Use e-mail as a weapon such as copying the recipient’s supervisor when you have a complaint (particularly if this is the first time you’ve addressed the issue) – It’s unprofessional and weak, and it can break down trust/relationships.
  • Use e-mail when something is urgent – Many people today still do not check e-mail that frequently; phone and face-to-face are better avenues.
  • Use e-mail if at all possible when responding to complaints, particularly where emotions are involved – Negative emotions and e-mail rarely mix well.
  • • Use e-mail when a series of questions are being asked (or comments being shared) back and forth – It’s turned into a conversation at this point; pick up a phone or go visit the person to dialogue instead.

When it comes to professionalism in business writing, don’t (E)-mail it in.

 


When Metrics Mask Reality – 7/16/13 TOW

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

Michael has the pleasure of knowing a board member for a nationwide retail chain. Michael thoroughly enjoys knowing this gentleman on a personal level and learning about his perspective on business.

Since Michael has been a customer of the business, one day he decided to ask the board member how the board feels about their company’s customer service. The board member’s response was “Oh! We’re doing great! We just passed our biggest competitor in the national ratings, and our metrics on the store customer service are generally trending up!”

Michael was somewhat astonished at the response, since this company has a reputation for horrible customer service. Since Michael hadn’t been to his local store in a few weeks, he thought that maybe they had improved.

So that weekend, Michael needed to buy a certain type of flower that his wife was requesting – a white wave petunia. Not wanting to make a 20 minute round trip without knowing they had that type of plant, Michael called the store first. After going through 5 menus on the phone system, Michael selected the right option (or so he had hoped) and was transferred to the nursery; he hung up after the phone rang for the 18th time with nobody answering.

He then hopped in his car to go there anyway as it was getting late in the day. When Michael entered the nursery area, he immediately walked up to the cashier and waited behind the only customer in line. Since that conversation was taking several minutes, Michael walked to the flower pots and began looking for the plant. There Michael saw every petunia known to man. . .except a white wave petunia.

So he went back to the cashier, and when the cashier was done helping the customer, Michael asked for help.

“I’m just a cashier,” responded the employee. “I don’t know what those are; why don’t you go ask an employee back in lumber?”

“Where?,” Michael responded.

“Back in the back quadrant over there; they’re over there,” the cashier replied.

Then Michael went to the ‘back quadrant,’ but there were no employees around.

Michael left without a white wave petunia, without a good feeling about the store, and with the definite suspicion that this board member had never shopped at his own stores.

Metrics can look good, but the experience can be bad.

Trust data to a point, but verify what the experience is like in reality. Experience your business like a customer would experience it.

 


Now That You’re On Time, Please Wait – 7/9/13 TOW

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

Ellie went to her eye doctor to get her cataracts checked. Are they bad enough to get the procedure? That was her question – she wanted the cataract surgery so she could see better, but every year her physician said they were not quite bad enough.

After checking in, Ellie went to the waiting room and noticed a new automated board that tracked physician delays. Apparently, the office had added these “scheduling status monitors” within the past month in order to set appropriate expectations with patients about wait times. The theory was to best manage expectations and communicate via monitors with the patients. This ensures patients won’t be upset at delays, and they won’t constantly interrupt receptionists asking for updates.

When Ellie found her physician on the monitor, she noticed that her doctor was running about 90 minutes behind by that point in the day. And while it was good that the monitor gave her a realistic expectation of the delay, Ellie was frustrated. Why? Isn’t this one of the core concepts behind great customer service – that you constantly have to reset customer expectations to match reality?

To Ellie, this definitely wasn’t an example of great customer service – or even good customer service. From her perspective, if the office knew that they were 90 minutes behind, why didn’t they call her to tell her so that she could arrive later? Why couldn’t they use their information so the customer could rest a little longer, run an errand or two on the way, get more work done, or avoid having to leave home in the middle of a thunderstorm?

In other words, why couldn’t they use the information to reduce the patient’s wait time and make it more convenient for the patient?

Maybe the office’s response would be “if we tell them they can come in later, they won’t be here if we get back on schedule.” That may be true periodically, but it’s not the right answer in most situations.

If we can’t serve clients earlier, there are still opportunities to reduce their waits.

If we expect clients to be on time, do whatever is necessary to deliver with minimal wait time.