Customer Service Tip of the Week

Never Before… - 8/4/20


The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, Read more

Effectively Teach the Customer - 7/28/20


The 1985 Harris and Rosenthal research project conveyed what really improves student learning based on the interaction with the teacher.  The top two factors that teachers used to increase learning were (1) The duration of the interaction with the student and (2) The encouragement of the student.  In 3rd Read more

Meet on Equal and Even Ground - 7/21/20


“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.”  Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service. We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding Read more

When Customers are…Jerks - 7/14/20


Some people are a little extra…uh…difficult to deal with these days. Customers may have concerns or complaints – many of which are justified. But some customers act like…well…jerks. They’re not kind or understanding or have any idea how poorly they treat others. They’re obnoxious and yet, we still have Read more

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness - 7/7/20


The 3rd grade teacher had a phrase she used with her students. She wanted them to be “kind-hearted.” It was a phrase she used over and over again; no matter what she taught, this was an overriding emphasis on how she would communicate with students and how she expected Read more

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

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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Why are they Calling You? – 7/29/14 TOW

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The customers were complaining about being transferred multiple times, about voice messages not being returned, about e-mails they sent that received no response.

Then the company responded with solutions.

The staff needed to be more responsive. The staff needed training. The company needed a new policy. A monitoring system for staff responsiveness needed to be put into place.

The scenario I just described happens thousands of times per day across the customer service landscape, and it happened recently to me as well with one of our clients.

However, there’s an inherent problem with this scenario. Too often, the focus is ONLY on how to respond better, more quickly, and more consistently.

The bigger question, the root cause question is this – Why is the customer calling in the first place?

Is it a complaint about a defective product? If so, then why is the company selling defective products?

Is the question about poor customer service? Then why is the service so poor?

Is the call requesting a status update? Then isn’t there another way for the customer to get a status without calling?

Is the contact made by the customer so they fully understand the next steps? If so, then why weren’t those next steps conveyed clearly, simply, and in a documented manner already?

I would never advise any company NOT to try to improve. But before you try to address issues of responsiveness, find out the reasons you’re having to respond in the first place. Then find ways to reduce the need for the customer to call you directly.

Know why they are calling you.

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