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

Analyze This… – 7/2/13 TOW

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No we’re not talking about the Robert De Niro movie. I’m going to give you a real world situation, and I want you to analyze the customer service of this employee – Frank the building inspector.

Frank looked at his list of inspections for the day and cringed at the first one on the list. “What a way to start the day,” he murmured. “Waynesville Brothers Contracting. I can’t stand those guys. They’re always trying to get away with stuff. Drives me crazy.”

As Frank started out to the job site, he grew more irate about the conversation he anticipated having. When he got there to do the inspection, the site manager was a new guy named Pete. Frank immediately went up to Pete and introduced himself by name. Pete responded “it’s good to meet you.” Frank responded gruffly, “I won’t be here long hopefully. I’ll let you know what I find out.”

Soon Frank started the inspection, and as was usually the case with Waynesville Brothers Contracting, he found lots of issues. But for a first inspection, it wasn’t quite as bad as normal. When he went back to Pete, he interrupted Pete’s discussion with a subcontractor and said, “I’m ready when you are to go over this stuff.”

Pete asked “How did we do?,” and Frank responded “let me go through the list – there’s several items to address.”

As they walked through the items, Pete asked several questions. Whereas he was an experienced manager, he had moved to the East Coast within the past year from the Midwest, and he wasn’t as familiar with the State code. When Frank realized this, he slowed down on his review of the items, and he clearly stated why some of the items were in violation of code.

At the end, Frank said, “do you have any more questions, Pete?” Pete said “Nope, I’ve got it.” Frank said, “then let me give you a number to call and a website when you’re ready to schedule the re-inspection.” After providing the information, Frank said, “good to meet you. Have a good one,” and he left.

Now for the analysis. . .

What did Frank do right? What did Frank do wrong? Analyze Frank’s mindset, his terminology, his probable tone of voice, his assumptions, his use of personal names, and his general way of interacting.

While I’m sure you did a great job in analyzing Frank, it’s not always as easy to analyze ourselves. . .but we need to do so. To get better, we have to know the starting point – how we’re doing today.

So analyze yourself after you have a customer interaction. Try to do this at least once per day – particularly with conversations that you can tell – in your gut – did not go well. Ask “What did I do well?” and “What could I have done better?”

To improve, know your starting point. Analyze yourself.

 


The Customer is Always Right? – 6/25/13 TOW

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The customer was so upset, but about what? The event was “general admission,” so this customer thought that she and her husband could sit anywhere. Logical, right? Well, the e-mail from the arena staff noted that general admission only applied to certain sections. The husband got the e-mail; the wife was the one who got upset. After dialoguing with a customer service representative, the wife realized that her husband forgot to tell her that it was only for certain sections, and they were trying to get into a section which wasn’t general admission. They apologized to the representative and walked away.

At another arena well before game time, a fan arrived, and the seat attendant asked if she needed help finding her seat. The fan said “No, I’ve been here before.” She walked down a few steps and turned left down the row to a seat.

A few minutes later, two couples walked up to the seat attendant, and the seat attendant asked if they needed help finding their seats. The fans said “No, we’ve been here before.” So they walked down a few steps and turned left. They walked right toward the lady. The seat attendant watched as they talked with the lady. She then stood up, and the couples sat down. Then the lady walked toward the seat attendant and started complaining, griping, and blaming HIM for her sitting in the wrong seat.

The customer is not always right. Sometimes they’re really, really wrong. But the best in customer service find a way to treat the customer right, even if they’re wrong. It’s not easy to do; it may not be natural to do, but it’s the right thing to do.

Be the bigger person. Be in a service mindset even when the customer is wrong.

 


Round 1 – Sales v. Service – Ding, Ding! – 6/18/13 TOW

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They worked as a team…an individualized dysfunctional team. Let me know if you ever heard a story like this before.

Darla was just about the greatest sales rep ever. She could take someone from suspect to prospect to client literally in a matter of a few minutes or 2-3 conversations. Steven was the consummate professional when it came to customer service and client retention. He thrived in those 1-on-1 moments of truth, and he was strategic enough to nurture and grow relationships over time.

Darla and Steven hated each other. It wasn’t love-hate; it was more like respectful hate-hate. The way the business was organized, the sales rep made the sale, and then they’d turn the account over to service from that point forward. Darla only got commission off the initial sale, and she didn’t think that was fair since the organization earned thousands of dollars a year off renewals of contracts. She would actually earn more money if the client would cancel every year and sign a new contract with her the next day. “Why don’t I get compensated for future contracts that I started for the company?”, Darla would think.

Steven got evaluated and compensated on renewals, but he was always upset because Sales never obtained or shared the kind of information he needed to retain the new client, so he was essentially starting from scratch in relationship building with every new client. “Why can’t Sales think of anyone but themselves when they get a new client?”, Steven often wondered.

Darla and Steven were so good at what they did individually that they saw the shortcomings of the other very clearly.

This all-too-true story is about siloed organizations and misaligned incentives. If you want the organization to succeed, you have to incent staff to do what’s best for the long-term benefit of the customer and the WHOLE company – not just their own division or department.

Look at your incentives. Do they promote the department or the company? Do they focus on the short-term or long-term?

Ensure departments know how they impact each other – how their “output” is their co-worker’s “input.” Then incent long-term success.