Customer Service Tip of the Week

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

Developing Fan Relations During COVID-19


As sports teams and organizations across the world are gearing up to start play without fans, these same organizations are also determining what that fan experience is going to be when fans start attending again.  Many sports organizations are focused on locking in revenue from existing fans - keeping Read more

Reduce Their Anxiety Leading Up to Their Return


Building customer comfort and confidence in going to your facilities is a process which has a lot of similarities to the technique we train clients on to reduce customer anxiety.  From a tactical perspective, when you’re interacting with somebody who is anxious or nervous, you want to get them Read more

Moving toward Normalcy: The Face-to-Face Keys - 5/12/20


As we slowly go back to a face-to-face world, here are a few quick reminders for what positively differentiates employees who understand the importance of body language and expressions v. those who don’t. Especially if you’re wearing a mask and serving customers, ensure your eyes are focused on the other Read more

Pivot to a Stronger Post-COVID Culture


If there ever was a time for virtually every organization to assess their culture, this is it.  Culture not only drives customer service, but it also drives long-term organizational success.  While leaders can define the Desired Culture and can chart a Vision, leaders typically do very little of the Read more

5 Steps to Valuing Another’s Time - 5/5/20


Is your time valuable?  Is the customer’s time valuable?  I would think we would answer “yes” to both questions, but what does that really mean?  It’s important, and it’s finite. Time is precious because it doesn’t come in unlimited quantities.  We can’t go to Amazon and buy more time.  It’s Read more

Put Yourself at the Controls of Change - 4/28/20


You have probably heard about manufacturing plants and restaurants who are pivoting during these challenging times and starting to make hand sanitizers, masks, and gowns.  They are being forced to change, and they’re trying to find the opportunities among the obstacles that surround them. Sometimes we, too, as individuals in Read more

From Team-up to Partner - 4/21/20


The phrase used to be “Team-up.”  Company A and Company B are going to Team-up to address this big consumer need. Now the term is “Partner.”  Organization A and Organization B are going to partner together to seek a resolution to this community issue. Both of these phrases essentially deal with Read more

6 Ways to Provide Something Extra - 4/14/20


Winnie and Wayne ordered take-out last week, and when they brought their food home, they put the bag on the kitchen table and started unloading.  As they were pulling out the boxes, they noted two little handwritten notes. Each was a Thank You Note written by a different employee Read more

Hope is a Powerful Word - 4/7/20


It was a typical daddy-daughter conversation. The two were just chatting about whatever a father and an 8-year old discuss, and the father decided to ask his daughter a question. What is your favorite word? With no hesitation, the girl said “Hope.” “What a great word!” the father replied.  He was Read more

The Healthcare Customer Service Runaround – 8/19/14 TOW

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The following is a true story of a customer service runaround…

  1. Nate’s physician suggested that he have a diagnostic procedure.
  2. The hospital called Nate to schedule the procedure; they suggested he get the CPT code (procedure number) since Nate wanted to get an estimate of the procedure charges.
  3. He called his physician office and got the CPT code.
  4. At the direction of the physician office, he called another office (in another town) for an estimate. He okayed the procedure based on the estimate being somewhat reasonable.
  5. Nate had the procedure and received results – all were good!
  6. He received the bill – 60% above the estimate.
  7. He called Billing and talked with Kristin. She said that they billed correctly, but Nate was only given 1 of the 2 CPT codes and was told the wrong estimated price; Kristin told him to talk to the insurance company and have them possibly appeal to the office (which was part of the same company as Billing, which was also the same company as the scheduler, which was also the same company as the estimator).
  8. Insurance said that they may be able to do something if the physician office said that the procedure wasn’t warranted.
  9. The insurance company called the physician office for Nate and left a message at the physician office.
  10. The office called Nate and said the procedure in question was ordered correctly, but they were adamant that they don’t give out CPTs – so they couldn’t help with his issue; they suggested that Nate call Scheduling – maybe they give out CPT codes.
  11. Nate called Scheduling; they said that they don’t give out CPTs; they suggested he call the Estimate department.
  12. Nate called the Estimate department; they said they don’t give out CPTs, but the supervisor would call him the next day because she may have access to information that the front line employee couldn’t access.
  13. Nate called a week later after having received no call back, and he left a message.
  14. The Estimate department called back and said to call Billing.
  15. Nate called Billing, and the lady he spoke with sounded familiar – she was Kristin. She said the physician office wasn’t telling the truth when they said they don’t give out CPTs.

One procedure and fifteen communications. There was no resolution, no ownership, and no accountability. Most of the conversations were with one company and four different departments/offices, but they operated as if they were four separate companies.

In most of the conversations, the individual employees were personable and somewhat helpful – they probably received good evaluations for their actions during the call. But from Nate’s perspective, this was a royal mess.

Don’t assume that one pleasant conversation equates to one happy customer. Ensure the company isn’t giving the customer service runaround.

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Flash like in Football – 8/12/14 TOW

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There are certain phrases that come up time-to-time in the world of customer service that become ubiquitous like “Customer Delight” or “WOW Experience” or “Moment of Truth.”

One phrase that’s being used a lot in the world of professional football (the American kind not the World Cup “futbol” kind) is “Flash.” Coaches noted that a player Flashed in practice. In pre-season games, they want to see some rookies “Flash.”

Flash means – essentially – catch your eye. They do something so special, so spectacular, so unexpectedly good that you can’t help but notice.

To Flash means that you have gone above and beyond what’s normally expected. You might make a catch, but it’s done with one hand at the sideline. You make a tackle, but the runner doesn’t just go down; you tackle the runner, and he gets knocked backward. You don’t just sack the quarterback, but you quickly get by two defenders and make the quarterback fumble.

This kind of Flash is exceptional. So how can you Flash in customer service? How can you go above and beyond what’s normally expected? Even when the football players Flash, they are still just making a tackle or a catch, just like you are just talking to a customer or responding to a request or addressing a complaint or providing information.

So how can you talk, respond, address, or provide in a way “so special, so spectacular, so unexpectedly good that others can’t help but notice?” Here are some tips:

  • Think “Speed” – Don’t put items on the “To Do” list; just do them.
  • Think “Proactive” – When you learn something, don’t stop there; ask yourself “Who would also benefit from knowing this information?” Then share it with them.
  • Think “Energy” – Don’t just answer a question, but convey through your voice and body language that you’re enthused about helping others.

To show you’re great at customer service, Flash.

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Be a Star at Something, but NOT Everything – 8/5/14 TOW

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I’ve often used the phrase “Customer Service Stars” to address people who are outstanding at customer service. And while I would never tell anyone not to continually improve themselves (sorry for the double negative…), I don’t think that people should have to be great at everything to be great. In fact, it’s often counterproductive to try to be great at everything you do.

Think about your product, service, and process knowledge. To have complete knowledge of all those aspects of your organization requires a tremendous amount of study and continuous review of all changes that continually happen in most organizations.

Think about having the skills that you need to handle every customer interaction – control over your body language, tone, and words. You’d need the quick ability to change direction for every call, every interaction, every meeting to perfectly address the uniqueness of every individual and their situation.

How many of us are perfect at business writing – constructing e-mails with the tone and content that maximizes the perception of the reader that we care while simultaneously giving them the best answer?

We could go to key customer service principles – responsiveness, respect, collaboration, empathy, active listening, organizational skills, etc. Who’s perfect at those?

The point is that to be great at all these and the many other things required of someone in customer service, it’s virtually impossible, and I don’t want you to feel bad about your shortcomings. Customer service is my business – literally – and I fall far short in many of these points; I just keep working on them.

So keep working on your shortcomings, but find out where you’re already great!

You have that infectious attitude. You’re very organized, and that helps you to be productive and responsive. You’re highly empathetic and/or a great listener. You’re an incredibly self-aware person, so you know how you come across with your body language, tone, and words.

While you should continuously work to be good at all the qualities and skills of Customer Service Stars, make sure you know where you are already a Star (or REALLY close), and make that trait your calling card. Make that aspect of who you are be the aspect that separates you from others. Make that characteristic of who you are or how you act help you to stand out today.

Stand out to others by finding that one thing where you can be great.

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