Customer Service Tip of the Week

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

Developing Fan Relations During COVID-19


As sports teams and organizations across the world are gearing up to start play without fans, these same organizations are also determining what that fan experience is going to be when fans start attending again.  Many sports organizations are focused on locking in revenue from existing fans - keeping Read more

Reduce Their Anxiety Leading Up to Their Return


Building customer comfort and confidence in going to your facilities is a process which has a lot of similarities to the technique we train clients on to reduce customer anxiety.  From a tactical perspective, when you’re interacting with somebody who is anxious or nervous, you want to get them Read more

Moving toward Normalcy: The Face-to-Face Keys - 5/12/20


As we slowly go back to a face-to-face world, here are a few quick reminders for what positively differentiates employees who understand the importance of body language and expressions v. those who don’t. Especially if you’re wearing a mask and serving customers, ensure your eyes are focused on the other Read more

Pivot to a Stronger Post-COVID Culture


If there ever was a time for virtually every organization to assess their culture, this is it.  Culture not only drives customer service, but it also drives long-term organizational success.  While leaders can define the Desired Culture and can chart a Vision, leaders typically do very little of the Read more

5 Steps to Valuing Another’s Time - 5/5/20


Is your time valuable?  Is the customer’s time valuable?  I would think we would answer “yes” to both questions, but what does that really mean?  It’s important, and it’s finite. Time is precious because it doesn’t come in unlimited quantities.  We can’t go to Amazon and buy more time.  It’s Read more

Put Yourself at the Controls of Change - 4/28/20


You have probably heard about manufacturing plants and restaurants who are pivoting during these challenging times and starting to make hand sanitizers, masks, and gowns.  They are being forced to change, and they’re trying to find the opportunities among the obstacles that surround them. Sometimes we, too, as individuals in Read more

Adopt the Practice of Proactive – 4/1/14 TOW

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Proactive – I use the word all the time (maybe too much). I sometimes use it so much that I’m assuming everyone defines it similar to how I do, and I wonder how we really apply the concept.

I define “Proactive” as initiating an action or a sharing of information. In the world of customer service, the initiation is done to benefit the customer. We’re not waiting for the customer to call or come in, to request or complain, to ask or convey. We’re taking the monkey off their back by starting the conversation and providing the solution, without even being asked.

If your way of looking at Proactive is different, let me know, but for the rest of this Tip, let’s use that definition to address how we really apply being “Proactive.”

The main question I’d like you ask yourself is this, “About WHAT could I be proactive?” Remember, we’re not reacting and responding; we’re identifying and acting. So what can you identify that you can act on?

For example, what issues are cropping up internally in your organization that you KNOW will impact your customer? How can you communicate those issues and solutions to customers? Maybe you’re part of a government entity, and you know that some tax refunds are going to be released later than anticipated. You work in a doctor’s office, and you just determined that a physician will be out of the office, and his patients scheduled for that day will now be seen by a nurse practitioner instead.

Think about the issues that you uncover which could impact customers; then don’t wait for them to find out on their own and come at you with the complaint and the emotion; be Proactive.

What new products, policies, procedures, processes, or people are coming up that will impact your customer? How can you tell them about it? You could be a pro sports team whose most experienced account representative left, and now his account holders will all have a new point person. You’re the school modifying the proof of residency documentation requirements for student placement. Maybe you work in a bank, and you just found out that fees are going up for certain types of accounts.

Think about the needs the customer has which will be impacted by changes in your people or internal operations; don’t wait for them to come in with one expectation and get something totally different; be Proactive.

Take a few minutes and identify the issues and needs you know today that the customer will find out tomorrow.

Adopt the Practice of Proactive.

 


Anatomy of a DMV Experience – 3/25/14 TOW

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The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee was very nice and patient with me on the phone. I’m sure that any supervisor that was listening in on the call would give the representative good marks for addressing my need and thanking me for my call.

But it was a horrible experience. Why?

As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

A friend had just recently received a car from a relative, and it had a 10-day temporary authorization to drive without an inspection. Prior to getting the car inspected, my friend unexpectedly got very sick (she is well now, thank goodness), and my friend was afraid that she’d miss the deadline to get an inspection. So she asked that I call to see if she could get an extension:

  • Call #1 – I went to the State DMV website and didn’t find the answer, but I did find a phone number to call. The recorded message asked me to wait and gave no specific expected time for the call to be answered. I waited on hold for 10 minutes and then hung up.
  • Call #2 – I called a local DMV office (let’s call this Office “A”); after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up.
  • Call #3 – I called another local DMV office (let’s call this Office “B”); it rang busy.
  • Call #4 – I called a 3rd local DMV office (let’s call this Office “C”); there was a pleasant message noting whether they would accept payments; they suggested I press “0” for Operator; so I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #5 – I called Office “C” back a few minutes later, thinking that maybe they didn’t have a call queue; after the pleasant message, I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #6 – I called Office “B,” hoping that it too just was overloaded and maybe didn’t have a call queue; it rang busy again.
  • Call #7 – I called Office “A,” and – again – after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up again.
  • Call #8 – I called the State DMV again, and – after 14 minutes – the representative picked up the call as I noted at the beginning of this Tip.

We cannot assume that because one conversation went right on the phone that the customer had a great experience. For all we know, the customer may have had 7 bad experiences before that one conversation that went right.

If this was a private business, I wouldn’t have called 8 times; I would have gone to a competitor, and just like the DMV, they never would have known why.

Mystery Shop your services, or ask the customer about their experience. Never assume that because one moment-of-truth went right that the overall experience worked for the customer.

Know what you’re missing about the full customer experience.

 


Motivate Yourself? – 3/18/14 TOW

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How often have you heard the expression “self-motivated?” It’s usually used to describe others such as “That job applicant is obviously NOT self-motivated” or “Joe needs to be more self-motivated.”

So what exactly are these (typically) managers saying when they lament a lack of self-motivation in others? It’s usually that they don’t know how to motivate someone, and it’s frustrating to them. It could also be that they don’t want to have to motivate someone. They’d rather that employees motivate themselves.

“They get to keep their job – isn’t that motivation enough?!”

Well this Tip has a simple idea that will make those managers (the good ones and bad ones) happy. This advice will also help those of us who don’t get the outside motivation we need.

It’s simple – 3 Steps. Step #1: Make a Success List every day. This is what I do (and it works).

At the start of the day, get out a blank sheet of paper, and write “Successes” at the top. Then throughout the day, note a word or two to remind yourself of one of your accomplishments. Today, for example, I have 5 successes so far (I just write on my sheet what you see to the left of the hyphen below):

  • Bob Smith – The name of a client who said he’d be a reference for CSS for some pro sports mystery shopping work
  • Client X Mtg – A sales meeting I had this morning that went great
  • Article Published! – Notes an article that was published today
  • Great Interview – A helpful telephone interview with a client to share information in preparation for some upcoming training
  • Survey Launched – We launched a new survey today.

By the way, completing this Tip of the Week will be #6!

You don’t use the Success List as a rehash of your To Do’s. There may be some of that on there, but it’s basically your accomplishments – a customer conversation that went well, some kudos you received in an e-mail, some interest on a new project, some thank you that a customer provided, or a word of encouragement from a co-worker or supervisor. Maybe it’s the fact that your week is planned or you reduced the backlog of work. Maybe you went through an old file and purged some old documents.

Whatever it is, write it down.

Here’s Step #2 – Read it as the last thing you do before you go home.

And Step #3 – Read it again as the first thing you do to start the day.

Being self-motivated is a wonderful attribute, but not many of us – day in and day out – can do that without intent. Be intentional. Recognize your own successes. Pat yourself on the back – you deserve it!

Create your own daily “Success List.”