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

C.A.R.E. for Customers – 2/11/14 TOW

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In our analysis of customer satisfaction data for a client recently, we identified the survey attributes which had the strongest correlation to the customer’s feeling that the organization cared about them as an individual.

These “Care Perception Drivers” fit nicely into an acronym (C.A.R.E.), and we shared the analysis in a brief educational session with our client. Maybe these tips can help you, too:

  • C = Communicate before and after the transaction. The customers appreciated it when the employees engaged them upfront and proactively thanked them or addressed them in follow-up communications after the transaction. It’s not just about the task; it’s the start-to-finish experience.
  • A = Ask them about themselves and their situation. Customers perceived that the employees cared if they were inquisitive and sought to learn about what made that customer unique.
  • R = Relate on their level. The customer cares about the customer, so relate to them in a way they’re comfortable – with your tone and body language, tailoring your style to appeal more to them.
  • E = Educate them on how to have a great experience. Customers aren’t usually experts in your business – you’re the expert. So they appreciate tips or directions that can maximize their enjoyment.

When customers feel that you care, they’re more likely to come back to you, to be open to your suggestions, and even to cut you some slack when something goes wrong.

Ask yourself “Have I conveyed I C.A.R.E.?”


Fix Fast to Reduce Stress – 2/4/14 TOW

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This tip is all about you. The vast majority of the advice we provide involves helping the customer, serving them better, or the benefits to the organization or the customer for creating a great experience.

For example, when we discuss service recovery – dealing with complaints or issues – we often talk about how quick resolution increases your chance for customer retention. We note that many customers feel better about the company when an issue is resolved quickly than if no issue had ever happened.

But when you think of service recovery and their impact on you, oftentimes you think of stress. When you’re on the phone or face-to-face with a griping customer, you may think “I’m dealing with an emotional customer” (or a raving lunatic, however you like to describe them). Your heart starts to pump, your temperature starts to rise; it’s not a situation that many of us find comfortable. It can create stress.

So when you’re considering how to deal with the situation, there is a benefit to you to resolve it quickly. A fast fix may reduce your stress. The longer the delay in identifying a solution, moving the customer to the next step, making that fix occur, the more time that you are dealing with the emotions, thinking, worrying.

On a more basic level, the longer it takes to deal with a complaint, the more likely you are to have to add items to a To Do list, to play phone tag with others, to send e-mails flying back and forth to co-worker and customer.

Please don’t misconstrue this advice to be to “give the customer whatever they want to get them off your back.” Instead, when faced with an opportunity to call the customer back the next day or take care of it while they’re on the phone, take care of it then. When given the options to resolve it over the next week or to begin the process now, begin. When you have a chance to get them in touch with your co-worker immediately or take their information and tell them someone will call them later in the week, handoff now.

Cut your stress by looking for the faster path to the fix.


Give the Customer a Plan B – 1/28/14 TOW

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I was walking into my local bank branch a couple Saturdays ago to make a deposit. While I usually go through the drive-through, I didn’t have any deposit slips left, so I had to get some new ones at the bank. When I entered the lobby, I got the feeling of dread in my chest – 20 people in line ahead of me. I stopped, took a deep breath to calm the impatient side of me, and proceeded to the line to become customer #21.

After three minutes, I assessed the situation (3 tellers, 20 people in line, nobody had yet moved). I mentally calculated a wait time that would stretch into lunch if not dinner. And then I got an idea. I picked up a few deposit slips, and I left.

Sitting in the car, I filled out a slip, went to the drive-through (where there was NOBODY in line), and was on my way in less than 2 minutes.

At this point I realized that it would have been wonderful if an employee in the bank lobby had stated to the 21 of us in line “There’s no wait at the drive-through.”

The lesson learned? This is the 21st century. This is the era of an exorbitant number of customer service channels for most businesses (walk-in, phone, drive-through, self-service, web, e-mail, social media, etc.). And many customers who are in one channel are going to get very upset with a business because that method of obtaining service is slow, cumbersome, manual, or simply not a great customer experience.

The lesson learned is that businesses need to find ways to educate the customers on the other channels on an ongoing basis and real-time, so that the customer doesn’t feel trapped and doesn’t take out the bad experience on the company.

This involves having an ongoing Touch Point Plan with clients that includes periodic educational communications about the other channels, how to access them, and their benefits. This requires that companies know real-time what channels are performing like greased lightning and which ones are stuck in neutral. And this requires that employees get in the habit of “Educating Forward” – where they let customers know other channels available to them in case the preferred method of service is delayed or backlogged.

When it comes to providing a positive experience, sometimes the best path is the one that helps them avoid the bad experience. Give the customer a Plan B.