Customer Service Tip of the Week

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 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

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.


Seek Confusion – 4/30/13 TOW

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Do you want to be a hero?

Employees get some of the greatest compliments, the most sincere thanks from customers and co-workers alike when they make the murky clear. When they make the unknown known. When they help the customer to set a clear path, overcoming their indecision.

In other words, when you take a customer who is confused, and you add clarity, those customers are usually so appreciative. They say “NOW I understand” or “Thank you so much for clearing that up!” or “That helps a lot!” When people are confused, they feel helpless, get frustrated, are embarrassed, and generally have a whole lot of negative emotions and thoughts that build-up inside (and often outside, too!).

So do you want to be a “Customer Service Hero?” Here’s a key – Seek Confusion.

Literally put out your radar for something specific – look for the confused customer. They are the one staring for an eternity at the office directory in the lobby. They are the one pausing in the hallway and looking around. They are literally scratching their head, looking all around a shelf or an office without selecting anything or going in a specific direction. They are typically walking more slowly and often meandering more than heading in a straight line.

On the phone? They’re pausing frequently, sounding unsure of what best phrase or words to use (I’m like this a lot myself when talking to an automotive service center – “I might need to have my brake pads…uh…rotors…a full brake job…well, tuned up…”). They may spend two minutes describing an issue instead of just asking for the department that addresses it…because they don’t know who they should be talking with about the topic.

One advantage most employees have over most customers is that the employee knows their products, processes, services, and policies SO MUCH better than customers. To be a Customer Service Hero, we need to put ourselves in a position to share that knowledge.

We need to look for signs of customers needing clarity and direction, and we need to proactively engage them.

We need to Seek Confusion.