Customer Service Tip of the Week

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

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

A Tale of Two Minutes and Two Employees – 8/20/13 TOW

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Needing a water filter for my fridge, I walked into a home improvement store. Now this is a chain that I’ve been in probably over 100 times, but this particular store was new to me – it was on my way home – so out of convenience, I stopped.

As I entered the store, there was an employee (think “Wal-Mart greeter”) about 15 feet ahead of me standing by herself. She didn’t look my way or smile – in other words, the greeter didn’t greet. I didn’t know where to get the filter, so I walked up to her and initiated the conversation. I told her what I needed, and as she was pausing/thinking, I noticed the Appliances section at end of store. “Is it down there?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s where they are.” She didn’t say anything else, so I thanked her and moved on. Now keep in mind that this is an ENORMOUS store, and the Appliances section had to be a good 4000-5000 square feet, so the search process took a while once I got there.

Now juxtapose that experience to my experience with the cashier. As I walked up, he was smiling with the couple that was ahead of me in line. He greeted me pleasantly, smiled the whole time we talked, took the gift card I was using for the purchase saying “That’s great that you get to use a gift card!” and closed by asking if there was anything else he could do and inviting me to come again.

Despite only being with the two employees a total of about two minutes, one can draw several conclusions:

  • This store doesn’t put much weight on customer service-orientation when hiring; if so, the greeter would not have been hired.
  • The level of customer service is based too much on which employee is helping you as opposed to an organization intentionally trying to create a culture of customer service.
  • Store management is not customer service-focused; if they were, they wouldn’t have put a “greeter” with that demeanor up front.
  • They have not conducted (and/or reinforced) effective customer service training (the greeter wasn’t specific on where I should go in the Appliances section, she didn’t offer to walk me there, she didn’t have positive body language, didn’t open, and didn’t close the conversation).

You can tell a lot about an organization in two minutes with two employees, so compare yourself to co-workers in terms of how you address customers.

Learn from your differences to improve your customer service.

 


Convey Compassion in Customer Service – 8/13/13 TOW

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The hospital promoted the 3 C’s: Compassionate Competent Care. The Care was what they provided – patient care, clinical care. Competent denoted that there was quality to what they provided. Compassionate signified. . .well. . .compassion.

So what is “Compassion” in customer service, and how does it apply even outside of healthcare?

There are several definitions of compassion, but the overriding one that applies to customer service is “sympathy, empathy, and concern for others, particularly for their issues or misfortune.” Customers want you to care for them, particularly when they’re in a tough situation. So you want to be compassionate.

Based on this definition of compassion, ask yourself a few questions. Are you aware of the customer’s issues? Are you understanding of their misfortunes? And just as importantly, how do you convey your understanding and concern?

There are ways to convey compassion with your words/phrases. Use these words frequently in dialogue with the customer to convey compassion for their issue/misfortune:

  • “Your issue” or “Your concern”
  • “You” used in a personal reference
  • “I understand”
  • “I care”
  • “I’m sorry”
  • “I’m concerned.”

What aspects of body language and tone of voice convey compassion?

  • Offer a gentle touch on the back or shoulder
  • Provide eye contact
  • Periodically nod your head
  • Acknowledge/engage the customer and their family/friends
  • Sit/kneel to customer’s eye level
  • Lean toward the customer rather than away or toward the door
  • Use a more quiet tone
  • Avoid utterances while customer is talking.

To be compassionate, use the words and non-verbal communications that convey you care.

Convey Compassion in Customer Service.

 


Build Up Your Peers to Better the Customer Experience – 8/6/13 TOW

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In developing relationships with our clients, rarely are we truly alone. Maybe for an instant or an interaction it’s just us and the customer. But if we look longer term (a patient stay in a hospital, an account holder for a sports team, a client for a bank, a taxpayer for a municipality), those customer relationships involve many employees working together for that customer.

And in most organizations, individual good experiences don’t necessarily mean an overall good experience or lasting relationships. Sometimes the difference between Good and Great in the customer experience is driven by the handoffs between the different areas and staff. So this brings up three key questions with some quick tips noted below:

How can we ensure the NEXT employee is prepared to receive the customer prior to the “handoff?”

  • Communicate between different areas of the organization about a customer and the handoff about to take place so the second employee anticipates and looks for the customer
  • Bring specifics into the equation (offer background on the customer to the co-worker) – ensure the next employee can pick up on one fact about the customer so the customer feels that the handoff was made effectively
  • Use names of co-workers when talking with customers about the next step to personalize the discussion and humanize the process
  • Show you care about your fellow staff member in front of the customer; have a pleasant, informal dialogue with your peer so that the environment is positive and professional.

How can we “build up” the NEXT employee in the customer’s mind?

  • Compliment the next staff member in front of the customer; this helps to create rapport and reduce customer anxiety about the process or the person
  • Use descriptive language to describe the next staff member – “they’re energetic, successful, friendly, etc.”
  • Address the credentials or experience of the next employee – “they’ve helped many people in similar situations to yours…they’ve been with us for 5 years…, etc.”

How can we check-in on the customer’s experience with the PRIOR employee?

  • Ask how the process has gone so far – possibly use open-ended questions to gauge their perception of the experience
  • Ask the customer how the interaction went with the prior employee; reinforce any positives they convey; offer empathy for any concerns they voice, and offer to follow-up on any issues, if appropriate.

Moving from a Good to Great customer experience can require employees to set co-workers up for success.

Enable the other employee to succeed to enhance the customer experience.