Customer Service Tip of the Week

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

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

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.

 


Educate Forward – 9/17/13 TOW

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When Bill brought his daughter Jenna to tumbling, it was for a make-up class. Jenna didn’t take a couple classes during the summer that they’d paid for, and Bill’s wife mentioned that there were a couple make-up classes available.

So Bill walked up to the window to ask the receptionist if Jenna could use one of her make-up classes that evening. The receptionist, Rebecca, asked if they had called or e-mailed in advance to confirm Jenna could drop-in for a class, and Bill responded “uh. . .no. . .sorry.”

This is when the customer service aspect of the experience got really, really. . .great!

This was a situation where the customer was wrong; the policy was for the customer to call ahead if he wanted to use one of the make-up classes just to ensure there was going to be space available in the class. The customer didn’t do that, but what made the service great was that Rebecca conveyed that she hoped there was space in the class. Rebecca didn’t criticize the customer for not calling ahead, but she did educate the customer forward about how he needed to do things differently in the future. She still smiled, had a positive attitude, walked out of the area to go check with the instructor to ask about availability in the class for Jenna, and came back with excitement when the answer was “Yes.”

Sometimes the customer is wrong. But that doesn’t mean our attitude needs to go negative. Sometimes we can correct the customer (“educate forward” is the term I use), and do it so professionally that the customer walks away happy.

When the customer is wrong, don’t let your attitude tumble.


Brilliance Among Mediocrity – 9/10/13 TOW

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Jennifer was witnessing a horrible customer experience first-hand – she was at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Luckily she’s at the point where she only has to go to the DMV every 8 years, but when she does go, her expectations for timeliness, attitudes, process, facility – everything – drop.

After waiting in line for 45 minutes and now having finally entered the office, Jennifer was in shock. Now remember that her expectations were rock bottom, so could the experience be worse than even she anticipated?

Sure the waits were horrible; the stark room with a barely functioning television and hard metal chairs were pretty lousy, too. The employees with the glazed stares or the monotone voices didn’t impress either. But the shock wasn’t the result of any of that; the shock was that amidst all the mediocrity, Jennifer saw a flash of brilliance. It was like a light – literally – like there was a brighter light around one person. Her name was Marie.

Marie was a DMV staffer who was administering a test, and Jennifer noted that Marie smiled ear-to-ear almost non-stop. She stood and introduced herself every time someone walked up to her work station to take a test. Her voice made her sound excited to see the customer. Marie even sounded encouraging during the test (“I hope this goes well for you” and “I’m sure you’ll do fine” and “You did great!” after the test was done).

It was as if Disney had transported one of its cast members to Jennifer’s DMV, but Marie was real, and she was sincere. Maybe Marie stood out because she was in the midst of mediocre customer service, or maybe she stood out because she conveyed she cared about the person. She did the same task as the co-workers sitting around her, but she did it in such a way that most of her customers smiled as they left. Most of her customers seemed to have more energy. Most of her customers fed off her positive nature.

We all do tasks, but no matter how good we are at those activities, we can always bring brilliance to the interaction with our customers.

Be brilliant, and watch your brilliance get reflected from your customers.