Customer Service Tip of the Week

Keep On Going - 9/22/20


Thomas Edison once said “Many of life’s failures are experiences by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” You are close to success – Keep On Going. Winston Churchill once said "If you’re going through hell, keep going."  This quote has been taken Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events


Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential Read more

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Using I, We, or You in Customer Service - 9/1/20


It’s amazing how many conversations can go horribly wrong or incredibly right, not because of the use of a 4-letter word, but simply because of the use of a 1, 2, or 3-letter word – I, We, You. The incorrect use of I, We, You in conversations causes problems more Read more

Get Your Guru On - 8/25/20


You may have heard of management gurus - these people who seemed to know all and be all, to have the wisdom of 1000 leaders.  Maybe you’ve heard it in your industry as a guru in sports psychology or the master of economics or sociology or human behavior. And so Read more

Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right - 8/18/20


This is a famous Henry Ford quote, and the quote is all about self-belief, all about confidence. We’ve often spoken about the need to be confident and how to gain confidence, because that confidence - or the lack thereof - is imparted on the customer. But how does a customer tell Read more

Grind it out Today for a Better Tomorrow - 8/11/20


It’s been said that You Learn Perseverance by Persevering.  You are becoming mentally tougher right now.  The pain and the difficulties and the change today are making you stronger for dealing with the uncertainties of tomorrow. We’re all having to be more flexible.  We are all facing less consistency, less Read more

In Service Recovery, Say It Like You Mean It – 12/10/13 TOW

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Wanda was incensed. She was talking to the customer service representative about one of her client’s mortgages, and she was venting. “I waited on hold for 37 minutes, and then when the representative picked up the phone, he tried to help, but he couldn’t. After 11 minutes, he transferred me to another service center, where I was on hold 10 minutes as well. I left a message, and nobody has called me back!”

Notice that she’s giving specific times, explaining the process she’s been through, and ends with a negative (and a hefty inflection).

Next, Wanda was silent for about 15 seconds, and then she said “My client just wants to pay off the mortgage. The gentleman I spoke with from your company tried that, and it didn’t work.” [paused] “You say you want to help, but if you did you would be listening – like I mentioned, he already tried that, and…” [paused] “Please don’t interrupt. Listen, my client just wants to pay off his loan. Just look up his account number, please, like the other gentleman did, and I’ll explain this again.”

Notice that she’s using professional terminology (“gentleman…client…please”), but she’s upset after each pause. In each pause, the customer service representative is trying to direct Wanda or trying to run through a script, and Wanda isn’t happy. Wanda seems professional and somewhat patient, but she’s VERY frustrated, and this current representative isn’t conveying he cares. He isn’t conveying that he’s listening. He isn’t conveying that he SINCERELY wants to help.

In Service Recovery situations such as this (especially on the phone), the customer not only needs to sense action is occurring, but they need to feel like you’re listening – they need to hear that in your voice and by what you communicate back to them. Restating and confirming their issue before suggesting a next step, having empathy, being patient enough to let them finish while conveying a little urgency FOR them through your voice (with some pace and fluctuation), and even stating that you want to help (by emphasizing the word “want”) – these are ways to show you care in Service Recovery.

These conversations are tough, but to the customer they’re often tougher because they feel they have no control over the resolution. Therefore, we need to deal with their emotion with sincerity coming through in our voice.

In Service Recovery, Say It Like You Mean It.


Where Pizza Delivery and Emergency Rooms Intersect – 12/3/13 TOW

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What do Pizza Delivery and Emergency Room clinical care have in common (other than heartburn and accidents caused by speeding drivers)?

Let’s investigate…

During college, I worked one summer and two holiday breaks delivering pizzas. My initial thought was to drive fast, run to the door, smile, and do my best to make it a pleasant, fast experience – and get good tips! When I was being trained, the store manager gave me two tips that were interesting (and a little surprising).

First, don’t speed – a driver getting into an accident or seen weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds wasn’t good for business for this new shop in this small town. Second, when you leave your car to go to the front door of the home, walk quickly – don’t run, but also don’t walk slowly. The thinking was that if the customer sees you walking slowly, then they may give you a lower tip since it doesn’t look like you’re making the effort. If you run, you could seem (or be) reckless – not a good image.

Fast-forward 20+ years to an Emergency Room (E.R.) patient focus group I facilitated recently. Among the many interesting responses we received from E.R. patients was that they were perturbed if they were waiting in an exam room with little interaction with staff and then saw (or heard) nursing staff or doctors chit-chatting about the latest reality TV show or shopping excursion.

So what’s the connection between these Pizza Delivery and E.R. stories? It’s this – customers often form their perceptions of us in the most unusual times. It’s when they’re waiting for us, watching us, and listening to us – even if they’re not interacting with us.

The pizza customers perceived the driver’s effort and service-orientation in part by how they appeared in going from the car door to the front door. The patients perceived E.R. clinical staff to be wasting time or unconcerned about the patient if the staff were engaged in small talk when the patients were in need of care, communication, and support.

Think about how customers can see you, hear you, and perceive you even when you’re not directly interacting with them. They often form opinions based on those things that surround the “Moment of Truth.”

Watch for the customer’s opportunity to watch you.


Appreciate – 11/26/13 TOW

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As an American, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and there are lots of reasons. One is that there’s a lot of family time, there’s football on TV, you’re usually playing outside – in the DAYLIGHT, and the food…oh, the food…

But there are problems with all these benefits. First, family time is…well…family time – as good a source of stress as was ever invented. Then football on TV is okay, unless your team loses. Playing outside is fun (actually, I can’t think of anything bad about that), and food? Well food is always good – unless you eat too much or unless you get tired of leftovers consisting of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey burgers, and turkey lo mein.

The point is that even the best of times can be viewed through a negative lens.

The best lens for seeing most any time, however, is through the lens of thanks. There are always reasons to complain, always issues and illnesses, always people who have more – but so often the most inspirational stories are about those who have the issues, illnesses, of those who have little or have hardships, and yet they still succeed, they still persevere, they’re still happy or joy-filled.

Those stories are inspirational often because they highlight people who focus more of their mindset on being appreciative of what they have than of focusing on their issues and on what they lack.

In the world of customer service, we are fighting fires – the complaints and last minute requests. We’re often the downstream recipients of upstream causes of issues. We’re too often working 3rd shift or needing to provide customer access 24/7 so we can be responsive. And while we can focus on those negatives, to keep our positive outlook (and our sanity), let’s try to take this time of year as a reminder to appreciate.

Appreciate those that help us, those that support us in and out of the workplace. Those that confirm the value in what we do and who truly care about us. I don’t know who “those” are in your lives, but let’s think of those people, appreciate them, and – this Thanksgiving – tell them that we appreciate them.

Give thanks – literally – to others.