Customer Service Tip of the Week

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

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 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.

 


Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem – 6/11/13 TOW

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It was the first time that I had used this shuttle service, and it was also my first trip to Houston. I decided to take the shuttle from the airport to the hotel since I had extra time and because it was about half the price of a taxi. After paying for the shuttle at the check-in desk, I was told that the driver was en-route, and it would be no more than 20 minutes before he arrived. The driver did arrive about 15 minutes later; a good start, and from then on, it was a perfect experience.

After taking my luggage, Barry, the driver, suggested that I sit on the front row since I’d be the first one dropped off at my destination. He asked if I had been to Houston, and since I hadn’t, he became my tour guide for the next 25 minutes, picking up other customers and then heading into town.

He raved about my hotel and its proximity to sites and restaurants. He mentioned the new bicycle stands that the City had put up around town. He pointed out the baseball field and the convention center as we arrived. At this point, Barry seemed more like a representative of the Houston Chamber of Commerce than he did an employee of the shuttle company.

He described how and when to reserve the shuttle for my return to the airport (which I did), and he noted that I could track my pickup shuttle real-time online to know exactly where the van was at all times (which I did).

As I was preparing to leave Houston two days later, I got an automated call noting that the shuttle would arrive in 10 minutes. And the shuttle arrived 10 minutes later.

This experience (to and from the hotel) was a combination of great attitudes, processes, and systems.

How customer-oriented and integrated are your organization’s attitudes, processes, and systems?

Look for a little shuttle magic in your organization.