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

Same Wait, Different Experience – 5/21/13 TOW

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Jenny went to Clinic A. She waited 35 minutes after registering to get taken to a room for her annual physical. Beth went to Clinic B. She waited 35 minutes after registering to get taken to a room for her annual physical.

Jenny felt great about the experience she had that preceded her physical. Beth thought that timeframe was awful.

Here was Jenny’s situation: She was greeted as soon as she walked in the office by the registration clerk. The clerk smiled, handed her a clipboard with a couple forms to complete, and asked Jenny to return the forms once complete. After confirming that Jenny understood what was being requested, she sat down.

The forms took about 4-5 minutes to complete, and when she provided the forms to the clerk, the clerk smiled, thanked Jenny, and noted that she just found out they were running about 30 minutes behind. She apologized to Jenny, confirmed Jenny didn’t want to reschedule, and noted the water cooler, the magazines, and other items available to help the time pass. The clerk said someone would touch base with an update in about 15-20 minutes.

After 15 minutes, an employee told Jenny that it was looking like it would be 15 more minutes before Jenny would be taken back; 10 minutes later the same employee stated that it would be 10 minutes more (about 35 total), and she apologized for the additional delay. Ten minutes later, a nurse came out and called “Is Jenny Smith here?” As Jenny approached, the nurse apologized for the delay and noted she was happy to see Jenny.

Here was Beth’s situation: She walked into the clinic, found the registration window, and stood there for about 30 seconds until the employee looked up and said “hello.” The clerk provided the forms on the clipboard and asked Beth to complete and return them.

When Beth provided the forms to the clerk, the clerk said “Thanks. We’ll call you shortly.” After about 20 minutes, Beth walked up to clerk and asked when she’d be seen. The clerk said “We’re running a little behind. We’ll call you back shortly.” So Beth returned to her seat.

About 15 minutes later, a nurse came through a door and said “Johnson!” That was Beth’s last name, so she jumped up and walked toward the nurse. The nurse held the door open and pointed at the scale just inside the door and said “I need you to get on the scale to check your weight.”

Same wait time. Same paperwork. Totally difference experience.

Communications can take a bland experience and make it palatable – or even positive! It’s like taking a quarter pound hamburger patty and adding the lettuce, tomato, condiments, cheese?, and a nice bun. It’s taking the basic and making it something worthy of your business.

Make sure the blandness of some processes and products are made palatable by great customer service.


Be Passionate with Customers – 5/14/13 TOW

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Salespeople say “customers by on emotion.” Well why can’t employees serve with emotion…with passion?

When often talk about conveying you care for the customer, but it’s much easier to convey you care if you truly do care, and particularly if you are passionate. Passionate?

According to dictionary.com, Passionate can be defined as “expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling.”

So what aspect of your job creates strong feelings in you? Before you say “nothing,” consider these questions: Do you get excited about interacting with others? Do you love to help and serve others? Do you have strong, positive feelings about the actual product or service you deliver? Do you love working with others?

Find that positive emotion, and channel it toward customer service.

For example, if you like interacting with others, then make sure that excitement about seeing and talking with a customer comes out in your tone, the questions you ask, and your body language. If you like to help others, tell them so. We mystery shopped an organization recently, and one of the employees told the shopper that “I feel a big part of my job is to educate my customers so they can have the best experience possible.” Wow! And this was a shop scenario involving a government employee answering a question about a kitchen sink!

If you love the product or service you provide, talk to the customer about what a great product it is, but talk in terms of how much the customer will love it, or how much the customer can benefit from it, or how the customer can best utilize it. If you love working with others, tell them “I enjoy working with you” or “it’s great to work with a team” or “I enjoy working with good people.” Now that’s showing appreciation for your INTERNAL customers!

Find your passion, and channel it positively toward others.


When Multi-tasking is Overrated in Customer Service – 5/7/13 TOW

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I was meeting with a sports business client recently, and they were describing that they have allocated portions of different staff’s time to use in relationship development with season ticket holders. And while it is interesting that they were beginning to devote time to serving existing customers through account representative relationships, it is also interesting to note how they were doing it. They were not devoting staff full-time to relationship management. They were taking about 30 percent of multiple people’s time to develop relationships with their account holders.

It was their perspective that they were managing approximately 4,000 season ticket holders with five employees (a high 800:1 ratio). In fact, since staff only spent about 30% of their time managing those relationships, they were actually managing 4,000 accounts with about 1.5 employees (or an even higher 2,700:1 ratio).

It is very difficult for employees to spend the vast majority of their time doing things other than developing relationships and still be expected to do a great job in relationship management. In other words, it is very difficult for people to spend their time on many different tasks and be expected to be great in any one of those tasks.

As an organization, if you want to be great at customer service or great at relationship management, can you be great if it is a small percentage of a lot of people’s work?

If you want to be great at something as an individual, can you be great if you are doing 15 or 30 often unrelated tasks during the course of the day?

Organizations wanting staff to be generalists need to understand the difficulty in creating great performance.

As an individual, you need to organize your work so that you can spend as much of your time as possible in blocks focused on one or two activities. Continual shifting into/out of different tasks does not lend itself to efficiency and high quality.

In order to be great at one thing, we need to figure out how to allocate our time to focus on that one thing for longer stretches of time.

Multi-tasking minute-to-minute is overrated. Focus your work, allocate your time in blocks, and succeed.