Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

When Multi-tasking is Overrated in Customer Service – 5/7/13 TOW

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I was meeting with a sports business client recently, and they were describing that they have allocated portions of different staff’s time to use in relationship development with season ticket holders. And while it is interesting that they were beginning to devote time to serving existing customers through account representative relationships, it is also interesting to note how they were doing it. They were not devoting staff full-time to relationship management. They were taking about 30 percent of multiple people’s time to develop relationships with their account holders.

It was their perspective that they were managing approximately 4,000 season ticket holders with five employees (a high 800:1 ratio). In fact, since staff only spent about 30% of their time managing those relationships, they were actually managing 4,000 accounts with about 1.5 employees (or an even higher 2,700:1 ratio).

It is very difficult for employees to spend the vast majority of their time doing things other than developing relationships and still be expected to do a great job in relationship management. In other words, it is very difficult for people to spend their time on many different tasks and be expected to be great in any one of those tasks.

As an organization, if you want to be great at customer service or great at relationship management, can you be great if it is a small percentage of a lot of people’s work?

If you want to be great at something as an individual, can you be great if you are doing 15 or 30 often unrelated tasks during the course of the day?

Organizations wanting staff to be generalists need to understand the difficulty in creating great performance.

As an individual, you need to organize your work so that you can spend as much of your time as possible in blocks focused on one or two activities. Continual shifting into/out of different tasks does not lend itself to efficiency and high quality.

In order to be great at one thing, we need to figure out how to allocate our time to focus on that one thing for longer stretches of time.

Multi-tasking minute-to-minute is overrated. Focus your work, allocate your time in blocks, and succeed.


Seek Confusion – 4/30/13 TOW

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Do you want to be a hero?

Employees get some of the greatest compliments, the most sincere thanks from customers and co-workers alike when they make the murky clear. When they make the unknown known. When they help the customer to set a clear path, overcoming their indecision.

In other words, when you take a customer who is confused, and you add clarity, those customers are usually so appreciative. They say “NOW I understand” or “Thank you so much for clearing that up!” or “That helps a lot!” When people are confused, they feel helpless, get frustrated, are embarrassed, and generally have a whole lot of negative emotions and thoughts that build-up inside (and often outside, too!).

So do you want to be a “Customer Service Hero?” Here’s a key – Seek Confusion.

Literally put out your radar for something specific – look for the confused customer. They are the one staring for an eternity at the office directory in the lobby. They are the one pausing in the hallway and looking around. They are literally scratching their head, looking all around a shelf or an office without selecting anything or going in a specific direction. They are typically walking more slowly and often meandering more than heading in a straight line.

On the phone? They’re pausing frequently, sounding unsure of what best phrase or words to use (I’m like this a lot myself when talking to an automotive service center – “I might need to have my brake pads…uh…rotors…a full brake job…well, tuned up…”). They may spend two minutes describing an issue instead of just asking for the department that addresses it…because they don’t know who they should be talking with about the topic.

One advantage most employees have over most customers is that the employee knows their products, processes, services, and policies SO MUCH better than customers. To be a Customer Service Hero, we need to put ourselves in a position to share that knowledge.

We need to look for signs of customers needing clarity and direction, and we need to proactively engage them.

We need to Seek Confusion.


Customer Service Lessons from an 18 Year Old Hitchhiker – 4/23/13 TOW

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Cameron wanted to see the world, but not on an iPhone or by flying through the friendly skies. He wanted to see the World (or at least North America, Mexico, and Central America) by foot…and with an occasional ride from a stranger. Over the past year, Cameron has hitchhiked to Vancouver, East across Canada, down the East Coast of the U.S. to Central America, up to Mexico, and back to the East Coast of the U.S.

Earning money by playing guitar, and hitchhiking 250+ times, Cameron had to establish rapport quickly with the restaurant owner to wash dishes or play a gig, and with the truck driver to hitch a ride. So I asked him, “How do you meet someone and get them comfortable enough with you in five minutes to give you a ride to the next town? How do you get that rapport and trust that quickly?”

Here’s what he said:

  • Be VERY clear on your goals – He wanted to get to a certain town or location, and he specifically stated that
  • Paint a picture of how you’ve done it in the past – People have fear of the unknown; Cameron overcame the fear by giving examples of what he’s done in the past with others in similar situations
  • Ask them questions about themselves – People like to talk about themselves; they tend to like you more if you show interest in them
  • Be sincere – He truly was interested in what they said; he’s learning-oriented
  • If you hold back, they will not trust you – For them to be open to you, open up to them; thoroughly answer all their questions
  • Adjust your level of “animation” to theirs – Body language is big! People tend to be more comfortable with those who have similar mannerisms. He was always himself, but he adjusted his animation based on the other person.

To be great at customer service, you often have to establish rapport quickly.

Learn a few lessons from an 18 year old hitchhiker.