Customer Service Tip of the Week

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

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

Dan the Yard Man Keeps the Customer Moving – 10/15/13 TOW

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When “Dan the Yard Man” came to Lori’s home for a quick consultation, she was looking for advice. Many parts of the yard were having issues – grass not growing, erosion in the dirt, etc. Dan’s company maintains the feed on the yard and does aeration, but Lori had put off aerating her yard until she got more of a game plan for how to fix its issues.

As Lori listened to Dan, she realized two things clearly – what he could do and what he could not do. She also learned one other thing from Dan – he can actually tell you “No” in such a way that you feel good about it!

Dan told Lori what he could address on the lawn with soil testing, fertilizer, and weed killer when needed. But it was amazing how he handled the discussion of what he could NOT do:

  • He couldn’t aerate soon because their schedule was booked 6 weeks out, but he suggested how Lori could get some seed germinating on her own in some of the tough areas.
  • He couldn’t grow regular fescue grass in some of the shady areas, so he noted how he had been transitioning to shade grass.
  • Dan could not promise that he could get grass to grow in some especially shaded areas because they were only getting 1-2 hours of sun each day, but he suggested that Lori ask the “tree guys” she was calling about where they felt their tree trimming could impact the amount of sun the lawn receives.
  • Dan couldn’t guarantee that grass could ever grow in current conditions on the left side of the house, but he suggested that Lori consider a natural area similar to what she had on the right side of the house.

Great customer service does not always require that we find a way to personally say “Yes” to every customer request. Sometimes great customer service is about knowing an alternative when you have to say “No.”

When you have to say “No,” keep the customer moving to the next step.

 


Gauge Customer Satisfaction at Every Encounter – 10/8/13 TOW

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You may already feel you’re on “Metric Overload” (measuring customer satisfaction on surveys, getting mystery shopped, knowing your NPS, getting your CX ratings, and ensuring the ECS is A-OK).

Now – based on the title of this Tip – I’m going to tell you that you have to measure MORE?! Not exactly. What I’m suggesting is more do-able than daunting.

I want you to GAUGE customer satisfaction at every encounter. Measurement is done for many reasons, but the initial reason is always to gauge satisfaction. It’s easier to gauge (or get a feel for, an understanding of) satisfaction if you measure satisfaction.

But measurement for the sake of measurement is a waste of time and money. However, having every employee GAUGE customer satisfaction – literally at every customer encounter – is almost always beneficial.

So what do we mean by “gauge.” Hold the magnifying glass up to the customer’s body language; tune in more clearly to their tone-of-voice. What do those non-verbal communication methods tell you about what’s going on inside them, about what they’re feeling?

Literally ask “How was your experience today?’’ or “Did you get your needs met?” or “Is there anything more we can do?” or “Was there anything we could do differently/better next time?”

After many consulting engagements, I ask the client “Was this what you were hoping to receive when we started this process?” or “Do you feel like we achieved the goals you had envisioned when we began this project?”

By gauging the customer’s satisfaction during that encounter, you create – for yourself – an opportunity to learn what you’re doing well and to get positive feedback. You create – for the customer – an environment where they’re more comfortable sharing feedback, particularly constructive (negative) feedback.

At every customer encounter, you’re gauging customer satisfaction by literally looking, listening, and asking questions. You want to KNOW whether they’re satisfied before the conversation ends (and obviously address it if they’re not).

Gauge the customer’s satisfaction to better yourself and your organization.

 


Create Certainty with New Customers – 10/1/13 TOW

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When Jack entered the bank, he knew he needed a loan. He knew that starting up his business would be easier if he had that working capital to get things going. At this point, that’s all he knew.

Jack was anxious; he didn’t know what to expect in the process, and he didn’t know if he’d get a loan. If he got it, he didn’t know how much funding he’d get, or what the terms would be, or by when he’d have to pay it back in full to the bank.

Enter the bank officer. . .

Sherrie was about to deal with a potential customer in Jack, and she didn’t know him, his needs, or whether she could fulfill the needs. But Sherrie knew her job. She knew her paperwork, policies, and procedures. She knew the process.

While Sherrie was dealing with data, facts, and figures, she was also dealing with a person – Jack. She was also dealing with his emotions. She was also addressing what could be a lifetime customer for the very first time.

We often find ourselves in situations similar to Sherrie’s. We know our “stuff,” but we don’t know. . .well. . .Jack. But if we ask the customer enough questions, if we listen to what he says and how he says it, we can begin to understand his emotions.

And oftentimes with prospective customers, there’s apprehension. There’s a fear of the unknown. There’s uncertainty. Where we can change the uncertainty to certainty, where we can convey some hope, we can then begin to build rapport and the customer’s confidence.

Sherrie could not convey certainty about the outcome – she didn’t know if he’d get a loan, how much he would get, and what terms might be involved – but she could convey certainty about the process, about the steps, about what had worked in the past with other clients, and about the attitude and responsiveness she’d convey in her dealings with Jack.

Difficult emotions from new customers, in particular, (such as anxiety, nervousness, and fear) can be addressed by conveying certainty and hope.

Convey certainty to calm the customer’s fears.