Customer Service Tip of the Week

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

Gauge Customer Satisfaction at Every Encounter – 10/8/13 TOW

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You may already feel you’re on “Metric Overload” (measuring customer satisfaction on surveys, getting mystery shopped, knowing your NPS, getting your CX ratings, and ensuring the ECS is A-OK).

Now – based on the title of this Tip – I’m going to tell you that you have to measure MORE?! Not exactly. What I’m suggesting is more do-able than daunting.

I want you to GAUGE customer satisfaction at every encounter. Measurement is done for many reasons, but the initial reason is always to gauge satisfaction. It’s easier to gauge (or get a feel for, an understanding of) satisfaction if you measure satisfaction.

But measurement for the sake of measurement is a waste of time and money. However, having every employee GAUGE customer satisfaction – literally at every customer encounter – is almost always beneficial.

So what do we mean by “gauge.” Hold the magnifying glass up to the customer’s body language; tune in more clearly to their tone-of-voice. What do those non-verbal communication methods tell you about what’s going on inside them, about what they’re feeling?

Literally ask “How was your experience today?’’ or “Did you get your needs met?” or “Is there anything more we can do?” or “Was there anything we could do differently/better next time?”

After many consulting engagements, I ask the client “Was this what you were hoping to receive when we started this process?” or “Do you feel like we achieved the goals you had envisioned when we began this project?”

By gauging the customer’s satisfaction during that encounter, you create – for yourself – an opportunity to learn what you’re doing well and to get positive feedback. You create – for the customer – an environment where they’re more comfortable sharing feedback, particularly constructive (negative) feedback.

At every customer encounter, you’re gauging customer satisfaction by literally looking, listening, and asking questions. You want to KNOW whether they’re satisfied before the conversation ends (and obviously address it if they’re not).

Gauge the customer’s satisfaction to better yourself and your organization.

 


Create Certainty with New Customers – 10/1/13 TOW

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When Jack entered the bank, he knew he needed a loan. He knew that starting up his business would be easier if he had that working capital to get things going. At this point, that’s all he knew.

Jack was anxious; he didn’t know what to expect in the process, and he didn’t know if he’d get a loan. If he got it, he didn’t know how much funding he’d get, or what the terms would be, or by when he’d have to pay it back in full to the bank.

Enter the bank officer. . .

Sherrie was about to deal with a potential customer in Jack, and she didn’t know him, his needs, or whether she could fulfill the needs. But Sherrie knew her job. She knew her paperwork, policies, and procedures. She knew the process.

While Sherrie was dealing with data, facts, and figures, she was also dealing with a person – Jack. She was also dealing with his emotions. She was also addressing what could be a lifetime customer for the very first time.

We often find ourselves in situations similar to Sherrie’s. We know our “stuff,” but we don’t know. . .well. . .Jack. But if we ask the customer enough questions, if we listen to what he says and how he says it, we can begin to understand his emotions.

And oftentimes with prospective customers, there’s apprehension. There’s a fear of the unknown. There’s uncertainty. Where we can change the uncertainty to certainty, where we can convey some hope, we can then begin to build rapport and the customer’s confidence.

Sherrie could not convey certainty about the outcome – she didn’t know if he’d get a loan, how much he would get, and what terms might be involved – but she could convey certainty about the process, about the steps, about what had worked in the past with other clients, and about the attitude and responsiveness she’d convey in her dealings with Jack.

Difficult emotions from new customers, in particular, (such as anxiety, nervousness, and fear) can be addressed by conveying certainty and hope.

Convey certainty to calm the customer’s fears.

 


Quoting Einstein – 9/24/13 TOW

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Einstein once said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

With that in mind, think about your organization’s (or your own) current issues. . .

Your bank is losing accounts. Your team is losing season ticket holders. Your municipality is getting more complaints than ever, or maybe your hospital’s patient satisfaction ratings are dropping.

You personally are seeing the quality of your work decrease; your co-workers aren’t as responsive to your requests as normal; you’re feeling less organized, or you’re getting more criticism than you’re used to hearing.

You want to find a solution to these issues, but – using Einstein’s quote – you need to approach the solution with different thinking, different questions, a different process than you used to create the problem.

Now none of us intend to “create the problem,” but we do typically create a process, a program, a philosophy, or a way of prioritizing. We do have a method to use to gain input, to make decisions, or to execute a plan.

So here are some considerations for how to solve problems with a different kind of thinking. If you don’t use these currently, consider them:

  • Have a customer advisory group help you in better understanding the problem, identifying potential solutions, or “testing” programs/products/processes prior to implementation.
  • Ask front-line employees what issues they’re hearing and how the organization can more quickly identify chronic problems and develop solutions.
  • Look at how different industries deal with problems similar to yours. What could colleges learn about retention strategies from sports teams? What could hospitals learn from manufacturers about continuous improvement? What could a bank learn from a high-end retailer about the customer experience?
  • Ask an employee of some business you patronize how they always seem to be in a great mood or how they’re able to respond so quickly to requests.
  • Ask a vendor how they maintain such a consistently high level of quality.
  • Identify different “hats” to wear in analyzing a problem, and get a group of people to look at the same problem wearing these pre-defined hats. For example, have all members of the group analyze the problem using their “Data Hat” (They all look at the problem, its root causes, and solutions based on what the data’s conveying). Other examples could include: People Hat, Process Hat, Communications Hat, Materials Hat, Motivation Hat, etc.

When problems arise, find new ways to overcome old issues.