Customer Service Tip of the Week

Who Loves Ya, Baby? - 2/25/20


Telly Savalas played Kojak - a hard-nosed detective who solved crimes while eating a lollipop.  He was a tough guy with a tough attitude but a soft side.  He used to say:  Who loves ya, baby? So, who loves their customer? If you want to see somebody who loves their Read more

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Back to Reality…for Customer Expectations – 7/30/19

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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 ‘X’ minutes?”

Have you ever begun the process of getting a permit to build a deck on a home and been given a form that says what each step in the process involves, when you need to do each step (including inspections), and whom you need to contact?

You may reply “no” to all of these or “yes” to some, but these are examples of companies who understand the importance of trying to set or manage customer expectations. These companies understand that that first person may complain after waiting 5 minutes if they don’t realize that a 15-minute wait is realistic. These companies realize that that second customer may get irate or take their business elsewhere if they had to wait on the phone 2 minutes but might be more patient if their expectation is a 3-minute wait. These companies understand that a customer educated on a process is more comfortable and less likely to have issues with it, less likely to do things incorrectly.

Companies who attempt to proactively set or manage expectations understand the importance of the customer having some concept in their mind of what the reality is going to be; that makes it more likely that the customer will be satisfied with the experience, and the employee won’t have to deal with an irate customer.

Where can your company proactively set an expectation with customers about how long a process will take, how long a wait might be, what actions are about to take place, or what they need to do?

Determine where the opportunities to set expectations exist, and then use signage, messaging, documentation, and direct one-on-one conversations to do whatever you can to set (or reset) your customers’ expectations.

Get customer expectations back to reality.

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

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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 to ignore her and not make eye contact and hope somebody else deals with her.

The patient walked into the doctor’s office, and he saw that there was no line. There were 3 receptionists all looking at their computers. He didn’t know which line to go in, so he stood there, and nobody looked up. He then said “Hello” to nobody in particular, and one of the receptionist’s said: Last name.

The season ticket holder had a question about the survey that had just been emailed to her. So, she clicked on the e-mail address in the invitation and sent an e-mail to the research firm. The research firm replied with an answer within the hour. The customer replied right back: Thank you so much for the quick reply! I was actually kind of surprised that you sent an email. Whenever I email the team, they don’t reply unless I am asking for additional seats for a game.

These are 3 stories that happen all too often in business, and they are examples of bad customer service…when there is no customer service. Oftentimes, bad customer service is reflected in what employees do wrong or how a business is set up to make it difficult on the employee to deliver good service.

But many times, it’s the lack of service that is bad customer service. It’s a lack of a response to the e-mail. It’s the lack of the greeting to the patient. And it’s the lack of taking care of an issue caused by other customers, and that issue becomes a bad experience for everybody sitting in that waiting room.

Sometimes the best way to deliver a good experience is simply to show up. Respond to messages. Initiate a conversation with a greeting, a welcome. Address that irate customer before they create an environment that spreads negativity to the other customers.

For excellence to happen, get engaged.

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Libby Listened to Serve – 7/16/19

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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 her training on the computer and phone systems, she began to work in the live environment. Day after day she took the calls from the customers, answering their questions and handling their complaints. As her supervisor would monitor her production on the phone, he noticed an alarming statistic. Her average call length was about 30 seconds longer than the organization’s target.

The supervisor needed to know why this was happening. He knew that she was a good conversationalist based on their employee meetings and her initial interviews with the company. Maybe she was talking way too much.

So he began auditing her calls, listening in for long periods of time during the day. Suddenly, several things became obvious. First, she surely was not a big talker. She had a friendly tone when she did talk, but she was actually quite quiet. Then the supervisor noted when she did talk that she would either affirm something the customer was saying or she’d ask a question. Then he realized that she was resolving their issue herself, or getting the most appropriate answer herself to the question on that one call. There would be no need for that customer to call back on that topic again. This was First Call Resolution at its best.

Then he realized her secret. She was a great listener. The customers loved talking with her, they got their items addressed, and they felt that someone cared about them. And at the same time, she didn’t talk too much, and she addressed their topics on the spot. There would be no repeat calls on the same topics from Libby’s customers.

The supervisor was so pleased with what he found that he redesigned their call-handling procedures to focus on effective listening techniques. He focused on owning the customer’s satisfaction. And he focused on using effective questioning techniques to resolve issues on the first call.

The volume of calls dropped because of the resolution, customer satisfaction soared, and employee morale grew. All because they learned how to listen.

Listen to your customers and your employees to serve them better.

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