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

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.